A few years ago, New Zealand photographer Carl van den Boom got tired of always having cold hands when traveling to photograph the Northern Lights. His solution? Start a company and make gloves for landscape & outdoor photographers.
In this interview, you’ll get to know the photographer and entrepreneur behind the popular Vallerret Landscape Photography Gloves.
Can you start by telling us who you are and how you got started with photography?
Sure, I guess my name is the best place to start. I’m Carl van den Boom, I’m from New Zealand but it’s been quite a while since I lived there as the world has a lot to explore and a lot of great winter destinations. I mention exploring the world and winter as it ties into how I got started with photography.
Long story short, through snowboarding with friends we would often film and photograph each other, and then traveling with my partner Stine, we picked up photography more seriously as a way to document our explorations and capture the amazing landscapes that were in front of us better than just a point a shoot.
You’re the co-founder of Vallerret Photography Gloves, what inspired you to start the company?
There were a couple reasons, one was that the with time spent in places like Arctic Sweden, shooting the northern lights was super tough without wearing gloves and super tough whilst wearing gloves.
We would catch up with other photography friends who also complained about the issue and mentioned they were looking for these sweet photography gloves but couldn’t find them. In essence, we solved our own problem.
But, starting a business isn’t as simple as that. We were also looking to create a business for ourselves so that we could travel and work, at the same time continue to grow something instead of starting over every time we moved to a new location.
Being able to create something around photography and winter just ticked all the boxes.
It takes a lot of time and energy to start a business, which we had some idea of, so we knew that we had to actually enjoy and fully believe in what we were about to create.
How did you go from idea to an actual business and what did that first year look like?
Yeah, this was super fun for sure. Stine has a marketing degree and I’m a designer so starting from scratch was a lot of playing around.
Literally, it started with a picture.
I designed an image of some gloves that we thought would be cool, I tried to make it look as real as possible (on a small screen I could almost get away with it) and then we set up a website and “sold them”.
Stine ran some Google AdWords to promote it and after a couple weeks, we had a few sales. At least we had enough sales to deem that there was a demand and it and had legs to become a real business.
This saved us so much time and money in testing the initial idea.
I should explain “Sold it”, we didn’t actually take any money but once people landed on the checkout page we deemed that as a sale.
It took us 10 months after that to establish a relationship with a good manufacturer and have a finalized product, then we took that idea to Kickstarter.
Kickstarter wasn’t so much about the funding, which was a bonus as we could sell the gloves before we made them, but it was more of another test to see if there were enough people that had the same problem and were willing to pay for the solution.
Since then we have just listened to our customers and keep developing quality products.
Why do you think your gloves have become so popular amongst landscape photographers?
I’d like to think it’s because we focus on creating quality products with a great design and functionality!
It was whilst shooting the northern lights in the Arctic and suffering from frozen hands that we really started thinking of a solution to cold hands and I think for landscape photographers this is a big pain point, so our gloves are an answer to their problem.
Photographers also love to talk about gear, so I think the combination of general word of mouth, photographers writing reviews and blog posts on their own websites and social media posts have all helped with our gloves becoming popular with landscape photographers.
Where can people find your gloves?
Our website, PhotographyGloves.com has everything people need to know about our products.
We have some videos explaining all the tech details, info on cold weather shooting and you can buy our range of gloves through the webshop.
Lastly, do you still get to go out photographing now that you’ve got a growing company?
That’s a good question. We have to test our own products so I claim going for a shoot to be part of my daily task…!
Having your own business often means you end up working a lot and the things that help your business grow are not always the things that you would most want to be doing.
This is true for photographers having a photography business as much as anyone else.
I try to make it a priority to keep going out to shoot and we use quite a few of my images for our marketing and things, so I end up being my own client which helps with shooting more.
So yes, I still get out to go and shoot but I have to admit that late nights working are not my best friend for those sunrise sessions.
Editors note: I personally use Vallerret Photography Gloves for all my outdoor winter photography they have quickly become my favorite gloves. If you’re looking for a new pair of gloves to use when photographing, I can highly recommend them.
If you’re curious about these gloves and want to see if they’re a good choice for you, be sure to have a look at my review of Vallerret Photography Gloves.