Matt Hamp­ton

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From ski hires in Jind­abyne and Ja­pan, to a fine Merino cloth­ing line, Matt Hamp­ton has a real knack for seiz­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Matt’s straight-shoot­ing, red-hot ap­proach to busi­ness and life has al­lowed him to dom­i­nate al­ready sat­u­rated mar­kets in the Aus­tralian ski in­dus­try. His brand Oyuki is en­joy­ing solid growth thanks to the qual­ity of its gloves, base lay­ers, and ac­ces­sories. How­ever, even with an ex­pand­ing fam­ily and port­fo­lio, Matt some­how still man­ages to find the time to get on the hill and do what he loves.

CF: How did you get into ski­ing?

MH: I grew up in Cooma, NSW. My par­ents took me to Mt Sel­wyn a few times and then I joined the St Moritz Ski Club, which pro­vided a bus from Cooma to Thredbo ev­ery week­end. It gave lo­cal kids a chance to ski the moun­tain with great coaches. Then when I was 14 I joined the Thredbo Freestyle team, we used to build kick­ers all over the hill and send it off any­thing that crossed our paths. A few of us used to drive up in Link Bohl’s Dat­son 1200 ev­ery Satur­day and Sun­day, skis loaded on the roof, go­ing as fast as the thing would go. Good times.

What has kept you in the ski in­dus­try?

The bot­tom line is that I love ski­ing. I’ve also en­joyed build­ing a ca­reer in an in­dus­try that a lot of peo­ple re­gard as be­ing some­thing you do be­fore you get a “real job”. The ski in­dus­try is spe­cial be­cause it gives you the chance to travel and have a life­style that most peo­ple would con­sider a hol­i­day. And if you’re pre­pared to work hard and think out­side the box, you can def­i­nitely make good money. Plus, you get to meet a lot of great hu­mans also liv­ing the dream.

When and how did your pas­sion for ski­ing turn into busi­ness?

I started work­ing at Rhythm in Cooma for Mick Klima when I was 20. At the time I was very in­ter­ested in how the back end of the busi­ness worked. This in­ter­est led to long dis­cus­sions with Mick who be­came a men­tor and we de­cided to start a shop in Jind­abyne called Beats Snow Sports when I was 25. In 2005 I heard Niseko had great snow and a lack of qual­ity ski shops, which sounded like a great op­por­tu­nity to keep the busi­ness run­ning dur­ing sum­mer, and to also ski the best pow­der in the world with my friends. So we packed Beats into a con­tainer and shipped it over. That first win­ter in Niseko taught me a huge amount about risk ver­sus re­ward. Ba­si­cally, at some point in ev­ery busi­ness you have to de­cide if you want to have a real crack. We did, and so far it’s paid off.

When did you start Oyuki?

2009. Af­ter a few win­ters in Ja­pan I saw an op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate gear that was bet­ter suited to Niseko’s con­di­tions com­pared to some of the prod­ucts we were buy­ing from our sup­pli­ers. We started with face­masks and bal­a­clavas and to­day our real fo­cus is our gloves and mitts.

Look­ing back, would you change any­thing?

Not with Oyuki. We are re­ally proud of the brand, par­tic­u­larly the qual­ity of our prod­ucts, which are all made with the best ma­te­ri­als pos­si­ble. Our brand story is based on the fact that we are de­signed and tested in Niseko, which makes us unique and al­lows us to pay homage to a place that we are pas­sion­ate about. For the re­tail stores I only wish we’d pur­chased more prop­erty in Niseko back when it was su­per cheap!

Do you still get to ski as much as you would like?

In Ja­pan, yes. I go out when­ever it’s good. Which is a lot. In Aus­tralia we haven’t skied as much as I’d like over the last cou­ple of years be­cause we have kids now and it’s not easy drag­ging them from Syd­ney, where we live, to the snow ev­ery time I feel like do­ing a few turns. But our two-year-old, Ash­leigh, learned to ski in Ja­pan this year so we will be head­ing to Thredbo and Per­isher a lot more from now on. Yew!

What’s next?

We have re­ally ex­cit­ing things in the pipe­line for the re­tail stores in Ja­pan, in­clud­ing open­ing a new store in Niseko called Rhythm Sum­mit, which will be back­coun­try fo­cussed. For Oyuki we are su­per ex­cited to have just signed two ma­jor in­ter­na­tional names, Maude Ray­mond and Pep Fu­jas. We are cur­rently build­ing sig­na­ture mitts for both of them, which will be avail­able soon. We also have some back­coun­try spe­cific gloves in the works, which will be game chang­ers to those who earn their turns. But most of all we’re look­ing for­ward to tak­ing Oyuki global, and giv­ing ev­ery­one ac­cess to their own piece of Niseko.

SWEAT EQ­UITY – OP­TI­MISM, IN­NO­VA­TION AND AN OVER­WHELM­ING FROTH TO JUST GO SKI­ING

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