The Black Crows Soul | Chapter 1: Bruno Compagnet
As co-founder of the independent French freeski brand Black Crows, skier, surfer, biker, and life lover, MiND features Bruno Compagnet in the first chapter of #theBlackCrowSoul. He talks about how during one of his many winters in Chamonix, he met his co-founder – Camille Jaccoux – whose story will be featured in the following chapter. Sharing a love of skiing and passion for many other similar interests, in 2006 the duo created Black Crows with a desire to match beauty with efficiency in skis.
Bruno and Camille wanted to differentiate themselves and create a ski under their own brand. Their dream was a ski which would be the antithesis to the ones offered in the freeride ski market. That was the birth of the project for the future Corvus model – which was conceived as a big ski that would reign supreme in deep snow and yet be capable of spritely short turns – and the starting point of the brand which would soon be known as Black Crows.
The range developed with a line of playful, efficient, and reliable skis. Winning multiple awards in numerous magazines, Black Crows has also made a name for itself through innovative campaigns, music events and unorthodox partnerships with other brands and concept stores. With 83 models produced since 2006, the small Chamonix brand has grown up and today has a strong presence on the international scene.
"Skiing is something more than just sliding on the snow"
Bruno Compagnet. Photo by Layla Kerley
Bruno Compagnet and Camille Jaccoux are still on their skis and involved more than ever in the development of the brand and the product. To find the perfect balance, the ski models were first inspired by the numerous freeride skis that they had the chance to demo and tell us about.
Bruno is from the south-west France; he grew up immersed in winter sports, passing from the mountains to the sea, from France to Spain, in an instant. He travels with his soulmate Layla in accordance with the seasons and their activities. He lives close to the elements and approaches his practices with a true, simple, and artistic philosophy. He is always searching for a different approach- the artistic and creative side of skiing.
Bruno’s passion for skiing is linked to an inner need to get out, feel fresh air, and enjoy solitude. “I am not one who goes to the gym to train, I like being in touch with nature. I do not consider myself so much as a sportsman. Sport is commitment and performance. I prefer feeling the air in my face; I like to meditate when I go for a walk, run, or ride a bike. I consider myself more as someone who is passionate about certain sports, such as skiing, surfing and cycling.”
“If I do not have to compete, I can carry on these passions, even now that I am over 50 years old. I always learn something different according to my possibilities. If you talk to a surfer, he does not tell you that surfing is just a sport but a lifestyle. I thought I could live this kind of lifestyle in the mountains. I arrived in Chamonix when I was 20 with a pair of skis; I became a ski instructor to earn some money. There were all these people from America and Scandinavia, who bring a part of their culture to Chamonix. There was a special energy.”
Bruno Compagnet. Photo by Layla Kerley
"Skiing is conservative, competitive and performance focused but there is more to it"
‘It is no coincidence that Camille and I found each other. I met Camille Jaccoux on the ski slopes. At that time, I had dreadlocks. I dressed in super baggy pants and I was always partying. He instead lived in London, had super short hair ,and was always very well dressed. Besides skiing, we have in common things like cinema, literature and photography. Skiing is not everything even if I have spent most of my life destroying my knees and my legs”.
When we asked Bruno about a memorable episode in his life, to which he talked about his ski experience with Camille in a base camp in the Himalayas for skiing. “Snow conditions were not that easy. One thing that has always surprised me about Camille is that even though we were in the mountains, and he did not have the opportunity to take a shower, he always had flawless hair, a perfect beard. We lived in a tent. I was always messy and he was always in order! Another very emotional moment was once when I did the whole crossing of the Alpes de Lyngen. I did it independently with five Norwegian boys, without assistance. There was bad weather and an avalanche. However, when we reached the last descent, the beautiful light of the sea, that could be seen in the distance, amazed us.”
Camille and Bruno would like to do a book of 15 years of Black Crows. It would be something different with anecdotes that they have never revealed. Inspired from his admiration of the surf world, this would tell the stories beyond the runs, give history and personality to this activity they love. “So far, we have always done balanced things that respect the level of all people. We produce an object of pleasure, the skis, which if done well, allows you to have a good time and gives satisfaction.”
The COVID-19 crisis and the temporary closure of the ski resorts (at least in Italy and other European Countries) pushed many to approach a new way of skiing. “Getting closer to ski touring is simpler now. The evolution of the ski’s material, which is more precise, light, and performing makes this sport more attractive. And then there is the influence of social media and influencers. Everyone wants to share his or her life experiences. And freedom is what most of the people is looking for, there is the need to escape from everyday life, from work, from stress. It is a mix of all these things.”
On the left Bruno and Camille. Photo by Layla Kerley.
2021 Black Crows Campaign. Photo by Layla Kerley
As far as the future of the brand, after almost 15 years from the start, Black Crows has conceived super collections : “Inspiration comes from looking back at the quality of the past, as today it is difficult to make something of true quality” Bruno says.
Recently the brand opened the first Freebird Touring Nest in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, a living space where you can discover Black Crows’ Freebird Skis, skins, outerwear, backpacks, hats, accessories, and more!
“There is always a look back at the quality of the past when it comes to developing a new collection.”
Community matters, Bruno knows this very well as he acts as a true and real passionate ambassador: “Last year I organized an event, the Sentinels, with 14 different nationalities. The Eroica, from the cycling world, inspired me. I would like to find an event where people come to the mountains, not to compete, but to spend time together, eat and drink together to put together all the different energies but with skiing as a common point.”
“It is more everyday things that leave you with something real in the end.”