Ride Green, Live Green Recent UVM Grads Start Environmental Snowboard Company
Canvases with geometric shapes and patterns hang on the walls surrounding the artist Adam Vindigni, who sits casually across from me on the couch wearing all black with a camo hat. A white ‘Powe. Snowboards’ is embroidered above the brim mirroring the yellow logo on his sweatshirt. Ruby, a two-year-old dog runs through the house, still with the energy of a puppy, tossing around a chewed toy tire.
Vindigni, 22, who graduated from UVM in 2015 with a degree in Studio Arts, is the CEO and artist for Powe. Snowboards, an environmental company he, his brother and four friends began a year ago.
How did you come up with the idea for Powe. Snowboards and how did you get it started?
Back in 8th grade I started thinking I wanted to design boards, like my entire life that was my ultimate goal.
Two Aprils ago, me and Will sat down on the couch and we wrote down all the pros and cons as to why we thought it would work on the back of an electric bill envelope cause that was all we had. We let that sit for a while.
And honestly the real reason I decided to start getting into it was because this girl I had been hanging out with for a while, well we stopped hanging out and I needed something to fill my time up. I looked at Will and I was like, “Hey man, we’re gonna do this, it’s time to make this a real thing.”
Were your boards out last winter for people to buy?
Yeah so we made 40 boards total, 20 of each model. We have just two left and we’re keeping them for company purposes. Technically we were sold out in our first year, so we were definitely very happy about that. We’re making 75 this year.
As the artist for Powe., where do you get your inspiration?
I have this theory that every single thing you see affects the mood you’re in, no matter how small it is. A lot of graphics are just designed based on the shape of the board, but I’m really trying to associate the colors and the imagery of the snowboard to the environment you’ll be in when you’re looking at it.
Do you hand-draw them or are they done on the computer?
Usually what I’ll do is draw it all out by hand in pencil and I’ll scan it into the computer and then use a tablet to do a full size painting on my computer. I use Photoshop, not Illustrator, which a lot of people would disagree with, but I end up doing a 70 by 32 inch painting on the computer. It’s super frustrating honestly. Each board design takes 150 hours plus, definitely.
Many people know the word ‘pow’ refers to powder, like after it just snowed. But what does the ‘E’ at the end of Powe. stand for?
The ‘E’ stands for education and environment, that’s why the ‘E’ is there. Also because it looks pretty stupid with just three letters.
We have the hemp on the top sheets, the bamboo sidewalls, the poplar core, and were actually going to have maple in one of them this year, and the epoxy is all bio resin, so it’s all sap extracts and things of the sort.
We found the right manufacturer in Wisconsin, so all the boards are US made which is pretty cool.
Have you always been focused on the environment?
Will and Joe were Forestry and Environmental Studies majors. Since meeting them, even before the company, they got me thinking greener in my own daily life.
We’re starting to brand ourselves as more of an environmental company than a snowboard company. Just honing into the fact that we also do have snowboards. We’re trying to promote a healthier, greener lifestyle. The motto right now is ‘ride green, live green.’
You guys just started the Powe. Mountain Project recently at Bolton Mountain?
We picked up a bunch of trash, recorded what we found, where we found it and how harmful it was to the mountain. We got about 22 volunteers and picked up over 100 pounds of trash. We are in the process of analyzing all the data and we’re going to record the consistencies in what we found and provide it back to them so they can cut the usage of those materials. Zipties and beer cans were the two biggest. We’re going to try and do a Smuggs one real soon.
Are you doing any other programming?
For every snowboard we sell we’re going to plant a poplar tree, so we’re literally replacing what we use. We are also going to be giving the customer their own seed so they can get engaged in thinking that way on their own.
We have the Mountain Mentors program. Joe and Will run that together. We’re currently working with the YMCA. Getting kids to think differently is important for us cause that’s ultimately what starts making the difference. We’re teaching them about the Leave No Trace mentality.
And Powe. is now sponsoring athletes?
We have nine riders, and Ruby too if you count her. She gets deep in the snow.
We are also sponsoring the UVM Ski and Snowboard Club as well as the Colorado State Snowboard team. They’re one of the greenest schools there is right now, so they’re really interested in the environmental aspects of our company.
Burton is obviously huge here in Burlington. Do you guys aim to compete with them?
We’re honestly not even thinking about them at this point. The environmental aspect of our company has really gotten people noticing. We’ve found our niche. People don’t need to ski or snowboard to be interested in what we’re doing. We have a nice little thing here that no one else has tapped into yet.
How did your parents react to all of this?
I remember trying to not tell my dad. I figured my dad would say ‘shut up and focus on class.’ I literally did not even think of asking him for help for anything and I went home for a family visit and he comes up to me and was like, ‘your mother tells me you have a snowboard company, why didn’t you tell me I would’ve gladly helped you out somehow’ and I was just like ‘shit.’
So he ended up being super supportive about the whole thing and gave us a little bit of money to get the whole thing started.
Do you ride your own snowboards?
I do! I ride the Chedda Shredda. The year before I went through five boards and had some terrible dealings with customer service so I was pretty unhappy with the whole snow sports industry. I rode it 85 plus days last year and it’s still in good shape so that was pretty cool for me to realize how durable they are. I definitely push it through the ringer.
What’s your favorite mountain in VT?
Smuggs. It’s a hidden gem. People say Stowe is the best, but it’s the same terrain at Smuggs and it’s a different environment. There’s no corporate snobby anything going on there like there is at Stowe. And Smuggs is really family oriented.
Maybe I’ll see you there!
I hope you do!
This article was originally published in the Saint Michael’s College award-winning newspaper, The Defender, in the Fall of 2015.