INTERVIEW WITH SO ILL

By Amanda Beals

So as you know I have dipped my toes into the heightened world of rock climbing at the Boston Rock Gym. While I have been traveling a bunch this past month, I have had the opportunity to interview a variety of rock climbing industry illuminati. Gavin, the manager of the Boston Rock Gym, suggested I look into So iLL and attempt to snare an interview with this bombastically forward thinking, yet old school, rock climbing holds designers and manufactures.

I took Gavin’s advice and emailed the CEO Daniel Chancellor and he responded enthusiastically to my media request. Now, for those of you who are not familiar with rock climbing holds let me lay it out easily. When you indoor climb, the holds are the myriad protuberant shapes that allow you to ascend. Without holds, there is no indoor rock climbing.

What is unique about So iLL Holds is the retro, futuristic, all bets off shapes of holds. This is augmented profoundly with the high level workmanship and chemists So iLL works with to create a hold that is dynamic and impenetrable.

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AB: So, your site is wild and woolly. Is that the spirit that motivates So iLL?

DC: We have always focused on a *Reality Distorted look and feel for So iLL. We geek out on bringing this ideal into both products and marketing for the brand. Currently, we are designing a new website. Its going to get interesting.

AB:I looked for a history on your company and could not find one. Tell me about So iLL came into being?

DC: So iLL started during my first year of college (April 2002). I was working all night and sleeping through my Entrepreneurship courses during the day. The first few years were rough. We didn’t have high speed internet until 2005 and I ran biz phone calls off pre-paid calling cards. I was 18 and living the dream. Shaping, molding and pouring on the back porch of my college house. The dream started there, and has now become a reality.

AB:I know that the Boston Rock Gym heralds your company as changing the course of history for indoor rock gyms. What are your thoughts on that statement?
DC: Interesting. That is a pretty big statement. I feel as though we have always tried our absolute hardest. We put 125% into Everything we do. Whether crazier shapes, wild marketing images, etc, we have always been trying to push indoor climbing into a new direction. A lot of other companies have followed lately. That is ok. We are happy to enlighten and help.

AB: How do you envision indoor rock gyms evolving or devolving over the next 5 years? And, in which ways will So iLL be a part of that?
DC: Indoor climbing is crazy on the up and up. Tons of new gyms are being built every year. Lots of “mega-gyms” are now popping up all over the country. In Europe, the facilities being built are fantastic. Small and Nice satellite gyms. Concrete floors, giant wall features, urban architecture, etc. I feel as though the U.S market has some interesting things to learn from them.

AB:Has social media enhanced your buisiness?
DC: I believe so. Since launching our Tumblr page (soill.tumblr.com) I feel as though a behind the scenes look at the daily grind has been good for climbers. Its the first place I put new products, ideas and traveling images, all updated from my phone almost daily. These are also posted to my personal Facebook page: Daniel Chancellor. Let’s be Friends.

AB: When you first log on in the a.m. do you read ClimbingNarc or 8A?
DC:Though both nice sites, I have not in a while. Pretty busy swimming through 100 emails every morning… Being in contact personally with our gyms and home wall owners is something we strive for. My cell phone is listed on the website and I sort through and respond to each and every email. Big or small, order or question. We are happy to be reachable.

AB: What makes your products stand out?
DC: We are constantly trying to push things further. Most recently, we have been working on a new Giant Fiberglass Volume. These are very popular in Europe, but are just now starting to hit the U.S. The Growth was shaped by Jason and is currently about to start in production. Its a 4 x 4 ft fiberglass volume with a Patent Pending mounting system so screws won’t tear up the wall. We’re excited to launch this massive feature. Multiple T nuts are included for mounting other holds onto it.

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Along with this, we have been working on a few other things we will be launching at the January Outdoor Retailer Show. We have been working with a team of Chemists for about a year on a new product and have filed the Patent info on it as well. We are excited about its launch.

For holds, we are currently shaping a ton. Going back to our “roots” so to speak. We are excited to launch an entire new product category in 2010.

AB: For a newbie reading this blog, who has always dreamed of climbing, but is afraid it is too hard, what say you to them?
DC:Go Get Some. Find a local gym and get involved. Its so very accessible now with the gym community in the U.S. There are plenty of people out there looking to help someone new. — A crew is waiting for you. Auto Belays are calling your name. Holds want to be grabbed. You need to sweat. Start twerkin it with a belay device and become educated. What a better way to spend your time than watching Jersey Shore.

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