Charlie (Carlos) Hernandez is the head of sales and business associate of CLOSCA.
Four years ago Charlie was at a christmas party having drinks with a bunch of university friends, when two of them, Carlos and Rafa started speaking about doing something to reinvent bike helmets.
That was when CLOSCA was born. Today they are a building a global brand beyond bikes accessories and helmets, a brand that designs elegant and meaningful products that complement the beauty of the cities we live in.
The bike helmet is their first product, and have some new products (i.e. a bottle of water) that will be launched soon.
Mike: Your helmet is obviously not your typical helmet, tell us is unique about the design and what inspired it?
Charlie: We wanted to promote more people riding bicycles and noticed that people normally don’t wear helmets because they are ugly and bulky while others feel it’s unsafe and don’t ride at all.
To design new attitudes we needed to bring something new to the market. It had to be something beautiful and simple (as good design is).
Our product is indeed inspiring new attitudes and putting more people riding bikes instead of driving a car. We surveyed our customers and almost 60% of them never wore a helmet before and are riding the bicycle that they have not ridden for years.
Mike: That’s amazing, you’ve created a new product that is better for the environment, better for traffic and better for your body. Besides the beautiful aesthetics of the helmet you created, tell us about the functionality of it.
Charlie: Of course safety is our first priority, the product has to be safe. Although our helmet is collapsible and as well as affordable, they meet the safety standards of both European and American standards.
After safety owe had to make design something functional and simple, we didn’t want to create something complicated. We wanted it to be as simple as a click. A folding system that would only take one second. Let’s create something simple, nice and beautiful. The bike helmet that people really want to wear.
Next it had to be well ventilated,. Our advanced system is hidden between de edges of the helmet’s rings and helps air to get into and out of it, creating a ventilation system perfect for city rides while protecting from sunstroke and light rain.
Then there is functionality, you can fold it up and you put it in your purse.
Mike: That’s a really big thing. I mean for me personally to carry a helmet around is usually heavy and bulky. So to have a collapsible helmet like this makes it really convenient and makes it easier on people when they are commuting. If you were riding your bike to work or going to a meeting you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to put your helmet away or walking around with it for the rest of the day.
Charlie: As you mentioned, a part of our target customers are the commuters, the people who are riding a bike to go to work, maybe 10-15 minutes riding, those are our people. People that take care of how they look, are well dressed, like good design and don’t want to be seen wearing a big bulking helmet.
Mike: A while back I saw someone in Los Angeles with a helmet he created, with 4 or 5 GoPro cameras mounted to it and facing all different directions. He did it because many cyclers have been hit by hit in hit and run accidents, so in the event someone hit him he would have all the info and their license plate number. Would you eventually add a camera to your helmets?
Charlie: We don’t want to put any gadgets on it, we want it to remain clean and simple. Do you see the visor? We made the visor replaceable. They come in multiple colors and in 3 sizes. We always encourage the gray visor, which is the standard.
You can also remove the visor and use our winter hat accessory (indeed, our top sales), which definitely takes it from a helmet to a fashion accessory.
Mike:You mentioned that it reaches the safety standards for the U.S and Europe. Which one of the two has a tougher standard?
Charlie: They are quite similar, with no big differences.
The Australian one is a bit different, and we have planned to get it in 2018.
Mike: What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Charlie: The biggest challenge today is to become a global brand. Up to now, we have done a lot of placement. We are trained to propose the helmet in great places. Today, our goal is not to sell thousands of helmets, rather to sell them in all the right places, building brand with an iconic product
Mike: What has been your most braggable moment in your career, or your past career?
Charlie: Here at Closca, winning the Red Dot Design Award in 2015. That was great and gave us lots of credibility through the design channel stores since our product can be sold not only in bike shops, but also in design and fashion venues. After winning in 2015, it was like – “these guys are doing something great”. Then we got our first order from the most important design store worldwide, where our helmet was shown in the main window for a month.
Mike: What would you say is your biggest weakness?
Charlie: Many times I try to get everyone happy around me, doing more things than I can manage, and I should definitely learn to say “NO” more frequently.
Mike: What is your biggest strength?
Charlie: I am a team builder and a nice working environment generator.
Mike: Whats a lesson that our tribe can learn about team building?
Charlie: Training is very important. You need to share with your team the values of the company, what is the mission and vision. Why are you doing what you do? What are the goals you need to reach? By what time?
You need to involve everyone on your team putting all of them on your boat.
Mike: What is the biggest lesson you have learned from a mistake?
Charlie: If you don’t have a good strategy or good sales strategy, it doesn’t work, because you will have a great product that is going nowhere. You need to define and follow a good strategy and of course even if it’s good to hear, “Oh, that’s a good product”, all this is business and should be profitable since the beginning, in terms of finance and/or brand awareness.
Mike: What do you love the most about what you do?
Charlie: I love being involved in growing this project from seed phase to something that can become global, and as sales director, I love getting feedback from customers. We do Facebook and receive a lot of comments, having all that feedback and seeing how we’re somehow “changing the world” a little bit with well-designed and meaningful products. That is awesome. That’s what we love the most, when we see the market is happy with the product. How can we inspire new attitudes?
Mike: What book has had the greatest impact on your life?
Charlie: Hard to say, but the last ones I’ve read are a comedy one called “The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared”, which has been pretty funny and “Disciplined entrepreneurship” from Bill Aulet.
Mike: What is a personal habit of yours in your life that contributes to your success?
Charlie: I don’t give up. I push! I insist! I push everyday… and always smiling!
Mike: How do you define happiness?
Charlie: For me, I think you should spend most of your time doing the thing you love to do – that is happiness. If you don’t love what you do at work or if you don’t love being with your friends or family, this is not a good symptom at all. Now I have children, a daughter, she is just 15-months. Everybody says it, but now I confirm it’s true, being and playing with her is great, that is happiness. Wherever and whoever you are with, doing what you love to do. If this is not happiness, I think it is not that far.
For more on CLOSCA check out https://www.closca.co/