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Louis-Felix Paradis is better known as simply—Louif. A name that has become synonymous with pushing perfection and creativity in snowboarding. He’s taken those two key attributes to the entrepreneurial world, alongside friend and business partner Laurent Grislain, they’ve created Nuclear Headwear. The two strive to offer flawless beanies and apparel locally sourced in the PQ.
Originally, Nuclear was a sister brand of iFound. Started with Louif’s guidance under The Positive Group umbrella. “They liked the ideas I was bringing in,” Louif explains. “They were like, ‘Why don’t we do a little line?’ I thought about it for a second, and then we started there.”
Shortly after, iFound started to shift its focus to outerwear and Louif was left to run the project on his own. It’s been three years since he’s been left to captain the small-but-undeniably-attractive brand. “Honestly, we are still in the beginnings of what’s to come.”
“I was in Japan recently after the Fukushima, heading straight into the radiation zone. We went and looked at where the tsunami hit and swept everything. It was insane. I was reflecting on how crazy the situation was, how powerful but invisible nuclear power is and how it’s not fully in our control. Thinking of the many major scientific discoveries have been as much about regress as actual progress. I started liking the word ‘nuclear,’ and how short and simple it is. In my head there’s a whole concept that makes sense. I struggle a little bit to explain it, but I don’t think it matters. It’s behind a lot of things we create, logos we rip off, images we use—I use nuclear to call things out in a very discreet way.” —Louif Paradis
Right now Louif is focused on producing a tight and proper line. “We make a long-lasting beanie that’s got some stretch to it,” he explains. “Our beanies will always come back to its original shape.” Typically, mass-produced beanies will be stretched out enough to hide a head of dreads within a month’s time. “We found a manufacturer in Montreal and asked them to add Lycra to the blend.” The Nuclear secret recipe. “Our beanies are kind of like a jean. Where you can make it personal to you. It will take the shape of your head and it will stay the same for a long, long time compared to others made of 100% polyester.”
All of the production takes place in Montreal and Quebec City, and Louif sees nothing but benefits to keeping the brand small and personal. “It’s nice—a little drive and I can go and check and see what the results are. Maybe it costs a bit more…” but you can’t put a price on person-to-person business and face-to-face dialogue. “That’s what I like about it. If we were a bigger brand, we’d have to go over into China.”
Louif’s passion for Nuclear is all about design and creation. That’s where he’s happiest. In turn, he’s been given a crash course in small business management. “I have so much more respect for anyone running a brand, or working in the industry, there’re so many facets. So many things that you don’t know exist, under the layers of making a cool product and selling it and advertising it. All the financials, all the paperwork, all the legal set up and everything—it’s crazy.”
Self admittedly with a year’s calendar over half-filled with shred responsibility, his biggest challenge is finding time to do it all. “It’s just the two of us, we just ship out of our basement, it’s a lot of work for a side-project. The reward is creating a product you’re proud of and sending a little package to someone who knows about it.”
When pressing Louif about the brand’s future his aspirations are straightforward: “Make more cool products and keep it simple.”
Nuclear is a reflection of Louif’s understated riding, attention to detail, and modest personality. One hundred per cent made in Canada and available online nuclearheadwear.co