The idea behind Jöttnar originated whilst in Arctic Norway in the winter of 2005/06. The company was registered in 2011 and the story of our first year was told here. The title of the post, similar to this one, was inspired by the sense of freefall that has characterised the last two years. As comforting as it would have been to have assembled all of Jöttnar's infrastructure upon the safety of the cliff-top, reality demanded that we took a running jump and attempted instead to build the whole thing whilst falling.
With finished product now beside us that has been two years in creation and a website that completed yesterday, after more than 12 months in development, our launch takes place today.
The pictures below show part of this journey.
After identifying a need, initial design ideas are sketched out, and technical construction packs are compiled for the prototyping team. Our lifetimes spent in the outdoors is crucial here for separating what actually works from gimmickry.
Fabric is chosen and prototypes are assembled. Surrounding the table on which the image below was taken is over eighty years of technical outdoor apparel assembly experience. Here we're discussing the grade of thread required for the logo embroidery.
Protos are tested by the Jöttnar Pro Team as well as by the founders themselves. Here we see Mark Thomas from Elite Mountain Guides after the first ascent of Jöttnar (Scottish grade VIII, 8), a mixed route on the North Face of the Aguille de Midi, Chamonix. He's wearing an early proto of Fjörm, our 850 Fill Power hydrophobic down jacket.
Mike Pescod, of Abacus Mountain Guides and Jöttnar Pro Team, hooks his way out of the cave on Minus Three Gully, Ben Nevis, in an early proto of Bergelmir - our Neoshell jacket.
Still More Testing
Jöttnar's co-founder, Tommy, turning snow into tea after a dehydrated ascent of the Mer de Glace route on the Grepon. He's wearing and testing a pre-production (late stage) prototype of Alfar, our versatile mid-layer.
We relocate to the factory to physically oversee production runs in collaboration with the factory's QC team, thus ensuring that our own quality control standards are strictly adhered to.
Building www.jottnar.com. Making the user journey as slick as possible.
In the studio, ensuring that we capture and represent as close a feel as possible for our garments on our website.
October 2013. After two years of testing, refinement, deliberation, development and production we’re delighted that our technical outdoor clothing is now available through www.jottnar.com and a small selection of specialist retailers.
The similarities between climbing and starting a new business seem uncanny. There are those things you can control; technique or process, and those that you can’t – rockfall, avalanche, exchange rate fluctuations and supplier behaviour. Everything is uncertain and the outcome unknowable. You can install aspects of protection along your route but you’ll never actually know if they’ll hold until you take a fall. You need to think through every step, amass the skill and experience to navigate intimidating obstacles and you need to have someone you trust on the other end of the rope.