earSHOTS allow riders and runners to take their love of sound to extreme places. These unique headphones stay secure no matter what the environment demands – from back flips at the park to the steepest descent on the trail. Made for adventure and exploring, these headphones are the ultimate accessory for those who want less distraction whilst listening to music or podcasts while they do what they love. We wanted to find out more about the story behind the brand, so we fired off some questions to earSHOTS founder, James Bell-Booth, to get the inside scoop.
NZM: Hey James, can you tell us what your original inspiration was, for earSHOTS?
James: I was training for an adventure race called the T42, in New Zealand’s beautiful Tongariro National Park. While training, I got fed up with my earphones: they fell off, got dislodged, and constantly needed re-adjusting. This resulted in frustration and distraction. After trying every earphone on the market at the time, and not finding anything that could stay in and feel comfortable while still sounding good, I came up with the idea of a new earphone design that would use magnets to attach to the ears. A design that you would fix to your ear – and forget. That was seven years ago…
NZM: How long did you take to come up with the idea, design it and get it to market?
James: It wasn’t overnight, that's for sure! There’s been home re-mortgages, many late nights teaching myself how to hand-mould magnets, thousands of hours on the trails testing all aspects of earSHOTS – and that’s all before we went on the market in April 2020.
NZM: Who are earSHOTS designed for?
James: First and foremost, they’re for riders and runners who love music, but hate being distracted and annoyed by earphones falling out or requiring constant adjustment.
NZM: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
James: Just focus on putting one foot in front of the other – the results will look after themselves.
NZM: How long have you been riding and what sort of riding do you enjoy most?
James: I have been riding since I was about 16, with varying levels of intensity. I used to live at the foot of the Kahuterawa Valley. When Arapuke bike park wasn’t even a thing, we would ride up the road to the trails in the pine forest. On the way back down the valley we would stop at the swimming hole – the Bull Hole they called it – and cool off. It was epic. Unfortunately, they subdivided the land and now you can’t swim there. Classic bloody property-obsessed people ruining the old school Kiwi experience!
NZM: What’s the craziest or most backcountry place you’ve taken your earSHOTS to?
James: Where I have been is nothing on where I am seeing our customers take earSHOTS – including over the Southern Alps and even down to Antarctica.
NZM: Best playlist/podcast for listening to through your earSHOTS?
James: I love all types of stuff, depending what mood I am in. Our earSHOTS ‘blood, sweat & sound’ playlist on Spotify is definitely a go-to. Then for podcasts, I listen to everything from current affairs stuff, personal growth stuff and even a bit of philosophy. On my library right now you will find Downtime, the Mountain Bike Podcast, BBC - The Documentary, and the Robcast, which is a philosophy type vibe.
NZM: Finish this sentence: As soon as I’m out of lockdown, I’m going to…..
James: ....the beach. I find the ocean super therapeutic.
NZM: What’s next for the earSHOTS brand?
James: See my answer to question four! Touch wood, we have some really big hopes and dreams for earSHOTS. The big focus is making earSHOTS the best sound experience for riding and running in the world. We have been working on a few things and will look to share those with our community of customers and partners pretty soon.
NZM: Outside of running a successful company, and mountain biking, what can we find you doing most weekends?
James: It’s pretty hectic, I am not good at sitting still.... I take the kids riding; I recently purchased the ‘Kids Ride Shotgun’ seat for my three year old son, Ben, which he is stoked about. I try and get out for a surf as often as possible, which involves a two hour+ drive to anywhere decent. Then outside of that, chilling out with mates and family.... I have three kids, so they are always wanting to do something which keeps life pretty full on. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though.