Living the pro snowboarder dream might sound like the golden ticket …but Austin Smith wasn’t convinced.
Unhappy with simply accepting the status quo, Austin Smith decided to make a difference and say “no thanks” to Energy Drinks.
Pete chats to the man behind the DrinkWater brand – a name you’ll have seen repped by Bryceland and the 50:01 crew.
Who is Austin Smith?
I am a snowboarder. Not like Shaun White, I don’t have a coach or go to the Olympics and I don’t like energy drinks and their overwhelming presence in snowboarding. I grew up snowboarding at Mt. Baker WA which is the home to the longest running and most wholesome event in snowboarding, the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom.
I dedicate my time and energy towards snowboarding, organizing events, producing movies and Drink Water. I have had more than my fair share of knee surgeries and in turn that has given me a lot of down time to appreciate what snowboarding has given me and in turn I want to give back to it.
How did Drink Water come about?
When I was 17 I had a good video part, won some awards and was on the cover of some magazines. In turn Red Bull wanted me to snowboard for them. I went back and forth on the matter, paycheck and lots of support but I come from a kind of hippy family and never drank that stuff. I didn’t want to endorse and sell a product to kids that I didn’t use. And the overall vibe of energy drinks is jocks and monster trucks, not for me.
Then energy drinks were everywhere, every rider, every event and it was all a lie. You have the dude at the bottom of the contest with a energy drink bottle that is filled up with water. So as a bit of a joke and to make some of fun of our friends we started promoting tap water in response to all the nonsense.
How anti-energy drinks are you?
Before Drink Water I was more anti. I talked a lot of shit on energy drinks and had a real bad attitude around them, the events they were apart of and their involvement in snowboarding. But Drink Water was an opportunity to not be so negative, let them do their thing and we do ours. I just don’t like when athletes sell and market stuff to kids that they wouldn’t allow their own kids to have.
Do you think this message expands well beyond the snowboard scene into all extreme sports?
It expands beyond extreme sports, its a pretty simple message that anyone can understand. We are fortunate to have clean drinking water and it is taken for granted. The whole beverage industry is kind of crazy when you look at it if you consider what water does for you and its practically free.
What’s the Josh Bryceland connection?
I heard he quit Monster and he seemed like a cool dude and someone that might get what and why we were doing this. So I sent him a quick DM and he was down, since then he has shared it with a few friends like Josh Lewis and Sam Dale and has got his own little Drink Water scene going in the UK bike world. Then we all went biking in Whistler last summer and him and Loose came to my house in Oregon. There are lots of similarities between Drink Water and 50to01, love what they are doing and hyped on their support.
How many people make up Drink Water and what do they do?
Myself, I snowboard. Bryan Fox also a pro snowboarder. His brother Stephen Fox who has lots of kids and lots of energy. We all work on Drink Water on the side, planning events, designing new products, sourcing stuff, editing movies, customer service, Instagram, etc. Its a lot, but its fun.
What did you have to sacrifice to get to this stage?
A Red Bull paycheck, but I’ve never have regretted it once.
How make or break is the company for you?
More of an initiative than a company, we sell things through our website but its more about doing cool projects and giving people an outlet who feel the same discomfort with energy drinks we did.
Where next for Drink Water? How do you plan to go about getting extra helpers etc. etc.?
Install drinking fountains in schools. Who wants to volunteer?
Anybody to thank at this point in the Drink Water journey? Long suffering spouses/parents/friends?
Everyone that has put a sticker on their snowboard, skateboard, bike, computer or car.
Not down with the energy drink crowd? You can check out everything Drink Water over on their website, and keep tabs on developments on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.