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?
- DANISH ENDURANCE: ''Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is the person behind DANISH ENDURANCE?''
Nicolaj Due: ''I have been running marathons for more than 25 years. Running has shaped and continues to define a great deal of who I am. When I run, I feel free and I feel happy. 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 also 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 start-ups, we designed our first compression sock in my basement. It was so cold during the winter months that it was 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 neighbour 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. The Danish focus on sustainability and our growing ambitions towards protecting the planet is also extremely important to 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 our products together with Danish Olympian and endurance athletes. Olympian Gold Medallist 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 was the first Dane to climb Mt. Everest without the use of oxygen and Anders Hofman is the first ever to do a full Ironman on Antarctica.
We feel 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 and outdoor 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 endeavour – regardless of level and goals.'' For me endurance is a state of mind not only physically but indeed also on a mental level. When I’m in the outdoors, whether I’m running, biking or hiking I’m charging on the mental level. For me it is pure happiness.
- ''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, one of our great ambassadors. Rasmus was defeated by Mt. Everest twice, but he did not give up and that is why he succeed at the end. 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. We are nerds when it comes to socks and we are proud of it . 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 my favourite socks, has probably been improved at least 20 times over the last 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 with male underwear. We have also launched female underwear together with swim-star and Olympian Gold Medallist, Pernille Blume, which is an amazing co-work, so we are expanding, and we are working on several new products. More or less every product in our pipeline has to do with getting out in the beautiful nature that surrounds us.
- ''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 an unvaluable kick of endorphins 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 spent 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 and I’m a much better version of myself, when I have been running. 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 exercise in DANISH ENDURANCE. So does my family – but then again, they probably wouldn’t dare to wear any other brand, because they know I am always 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 per cent and that is very reassuring. My parents, who are well up in their late-seventies, have packed countless pairs 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 that counts more than 10 different nationalities, 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 award 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 favourite 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. We have developed a long-distance running sock. In my view it is the best running sock in the market. We are working with a new “secret” yarn and the sock has fantastic features when it comes to absorbing the hard impact of long-distance running. ' I is also very nice to see that our dedicated fans see it the same, because we have great difficulties in keeping up with demand!
For more articles on endurance sports and a healthy lifestyle, visit www.danishendurance.com/stories. For quality products that help improve your performance, visit www.danishendurance.com/shop.