12 QUESTIONS TO OUR CEO & FOUNDER NICOLAJ DUE
What does DANISH ENDURANCE stand for? What are the values we believe in?
These are only a few of the questions we asked Nicolaj Due, our CEO, and Founder. Indeed, who better than him could explain the essence of DANISH ENDURANCE?
Given the importance of the topic, we made an exception to our “11 Questions” format and decided to add a 12th question. Read all of them below! 😉
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is the person behind DANISH ENDURANCE?
I have been running marathons for more than 20 years. Running has shaped and continues to define a great deal of who I am. When I run, I feel free. I can let go of everything. I can focus on pushing my body forward – nothing else. The focus combined with pushing yourself to the limit and sometimes even beyond is extremely rewarding for me.
This is pretty much my attitude to life. I always want to improve and I’m not very fond of giving up. You need to do a good job no matter want you are doing. This is also something my wife and I try to teach our children. They need to have a grid. They need to have some Danish Endurance!
What has inspired you to found DANISH ENDURANCE?
Passion for the outdoors. My father took my brother and me into nature as soon as we were capable of walking. I have loved it ever since. But I also have memories of itchy socks and cold feet. Later, when I served in the military and started running marathons blisters became my number one enemy.
So, my brother and I had a genuine desire to see if we could do it a little better when it comes to pampering your feet.
As with all good startups, we created our first compression sock in our basement. It was so cold during the winter months that it was pretty obvious that we needed something warmer. That was the start of our merino wool range.
No one better than you can describe the essence of DANISH ENDURANCE. What does DANISH ENDURANCE stand for?
I think our name is very self-explanatory.
The Danish part is our dedication to quality and design. We design all our products in Denmark, where there is a long and strong tradition for design and quality. Danish Endurance is inspired by famous designers and architects. Our next-door neighbor is the Royal Danish School of Architecture and I pass the Danish School of Design when I bike to work every day. That is an everyday inspiration for me. I’m very proud to be a Dane and I think we have a lot to offer. I hope we reflect some of those virtues in our products.
The endurance part relates to how our products come to life. We develop all our products together with Olympian Athletes. Olympian Gold Medalist in handball, Casper U. Mortensen, always plays in our compression socks and gives us constant feedback. Stina Troest, the Olympic 800m runner, trains in our various running socks and makes sure that we incorporate all the best features. When it comes to our hiking socks, they are tested to the extreme by Rasmus Kragh, who aims to be the first Dane to climb Mt. Everest without the use of oxygen.
We feel that this approach is unique because we develop with and are continuously challenged by the best of the best. The key component is quite simply endurance.
Furthermore, we proudly produce all our socks in Europe. There is a long tradition for quality knitting and the local production makes it a lot easier to constantly improve and upgrade our designs.
Is DANISH ENDURANCE a performance brand?
No. It is an Endurance brand. Endurance is at the core of what we do. Our products are always manufactured with very high-quality materials and designed in a way that endures through time in order to support every Danish Endurance user’s endeavor – regardless of level and goals.
Who is this brand for, then?
Endurance is personal. It is about setting your own goals. Your Endurance goal can be to run 5K for the first time in your life or to climb Mt. Everest without the use of oxygen like Rasmus Kragh, who is one of our great ambassadors.
Rasmus has been defeated by Mt. Everest twice, but he will not give up. That is the spirit of Danish Endurance – setting your own goals – big or small – and keep on going until you reach them. That is the kind of people we like to serve.
DANISH ENDURANCE is mostly known for socks. How are these different from other brands’ socks?
From the beginning, we have been extremely dedicated to socks and only to socks. We are nerds when it comes to socks and we are proud of this.
A lot of brands in the industry are producing everything from socks to winter jackets. It makes it very easy to lose attention to detail. That is not the kind of company we want to be. We want to be the best at making socks and we can constantly improve; there is still so much we can do in order to manufacture the perfect sock.
We constantly get a lot of feedback from our users and we implement that in our development. Our Merino Hiking Classic Sock, which is one of our favorite socks, has probably been changed at least 20 times over the last few years. It is just small changes every time based on input from our many users, but it means that the sock continues to evolve toward the perfect sock.
This is in my mind a unique approach and it is only possible because we have local production that is extremely flexible.
Even if DANISH ENDURANCE started with socks, the story does not end here. What are your next product launches?
This is a key question we have discussed internally for a number of years. We haven’t reached our Nirvana when it comes to socks yet and we are super dedicated to doing our job even better. Having said that, we also want to develop our brand.
After a lot of preparation, we launched our first Danish Endurance trunks and we have had a fantastic start within male underwear. At the moment, our biggest challenge is that we can’t produce enough to meet the demand.
We create our underwear based on the same values we use for our socks: design, quality, and durability or what we simply call Danish Endurance.
Being the CEO of a sports brand, you must be very sportive yourself. However, you must also be very busy. What advice would you give to fellow runners facing a similar lifestyle?
For me, running has always been about getting energy not consuming energy. It gives me a kick every time I run. I have never understood people who say they don’t have time to exercise. It is simply not true. The time spend on running is an investment you easily recoup in terms of extra energy and it enables you to stay more focused and concentrated when you are working.
For me, running is also problem-solving. Over the years I have learned that when I run at a slow pace, I get in a state of mind where I’m very good at coming up with solutions to even complex problems or planning future strategies. So, I can almost say that I run as an integrated part of my work ?.
By the way; Forget about thinking when you are running at a fast pace. That is completely impossible – just try to survive.
Tell us the truth: do you always train in DANISH ENDURANCE socks?
To be completely honest – I often sleep in them? and yes, I always train in Danish Endurance. It is the same with my family – but they probably don’t dare to wear any other brand, because they know I am keeping a close eye on their feet!
The first thing I look at when I meet a person is what kind of socks he or she wears. It is a bit scary but that is just the way it is.
If you should pinpoint one thing that defines the success of Danish Endurance what should it be?
I could mention many factors, but if there is one thing, I would highlight then it is the fact that we are a family business. I founded Danish Endurance together with my brother. We often disagree but we always have each other’s backs one hundred percent and that is very reassuring. My parents, who are well up in their mid-seventies, have packed countless packs of socks when we have been behind demand, which happens a lot. My small nieces are often in the warehouse helping out and my own children are ongoing critical sock testers. My wife who is a commercial lawyer is also a great partner with whom I discuss a lot of critical business issues.
So, it is very much a family business with a family mindset and it means a lot to me. Furthermore, our great team is almost like an extended family. This makes it fun and rewarding to work.
What is the purpose of the “Danish Endurance Award”?
There are so many young individuals who are sacrificing a lot in the pursuit of their goals when it comes to sport. They often train many hours daily and often under tough conditions, with limited resources. They have great dreams and they are willing to fight for them. That is the spirit of Danish Endurance.
It is our hope that the Reward can be a small recognition of all their efforts and motivate them to continue. They show true Danish Endurance and are brilliant Ambassadors for our young generations to come.
One last question: what are your favorite DANISH ENDURANCE socks?
That is like asking a mother to choose between her children! It is impossible. However, Danish Endurance has developed so much over the years that we now have a strong range of socks that can cope with almost any situation.
At the moment we are working on a long-distance running sock. I have used the prototype a few times already and I’m testing it on a half marathon this afternoon. We are working with a new “secret” yarn and the sock shows some fantastic features when it comes to absorbing the hard impact from long distance running. I firmly believe we will end up with a unique distance sock, but there is still a lot of testing ahead of us.