Heratij: Sustainable American Brands

Heratij: a combination of high quality ski and snowboard equipment with high quality street and lifestyle apparel.

Heratij brings fashion to your favorite winter sportswear.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Russo

Located at 513 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair, Heratij is a retail store rooted in the winter sports industry that carries sustainable, eco-friendly, responsible American made brands.

Owner Chris Francois and co-owner Alex Aronoff opened up Heratij back in December of 2013. Heratij offers both men and women’s clothing as well as footwear, a variety of snowboards, skis, skateboards, a ton of gear for each, countless accessories and art from Montclair’s very own local artists.

Francois was first inspired to open up this unique store after leaving his previous job. “I decided to do a blog, but saw no monetary gain from it so after a year, we started developing a business plan for the store. We spent three years developing this and looking for the right location,” said Francois. Once they found their location, Francois and Aronoff then decided to put a nice mix of fashion clothing as well as what they have not seen in a lot of places, which is smaller brands that do a technical based clothing and works within the winter sports.

“When we first opened, we were strictly a men’s clothing store and to be honest, my partner and I just hated shopping at stores in the mall and we hated looking like everyone else off the street so we wanted to bring in local brands as well as brands that do very nice technical stuff that people don’t see everyday, so it’s a mix of everyday clothing and lifestyle with a backbone of action sports because that is what our history is,” said Francois. Heratij offers a lot of lifestyle brands like Alternative, Arbor and Ben Sherman, as well as brands like Now, which comes from a designer who previously worked for Patagonia.

Francois and Aronoff have developed multiple in-house projects. One of the projects they started is making their own denim line, which is all sourced in the U.S. and cut and sewn in Newark, N.J. They also have some programs running with local snowboard companies, one being Launch. One of the programs that Francois and Aronoff have running in particular, truly exemplifies their creativity and generosity. It is called the “rip and recycle” program. So for instance, they allow any person to bring in a used or un-used snowboard, and they either tune it up so it could be used for an at risk program that allows kids to use the snowboards to get on the mountain, or kids who can’t afford to go snowboarding, or they turn them into pieces of art and try to auction them off. The money that they are able to get for them goes to those charities.

Not only does Heratij focus on being seen as a “life-style” with accessories from watches to headphones to sunglasses and beyond, they are always trying to break into new niche products. Next month, they will be bringing in an organic denim spray that is used to “defunk” raw denim pants. They also have a ton of local artists that they use.

“We try to focus on having a lot of collaborative art pieces. All of our artwork is for sale, and we even have some from Tokyo when one of our artists visited there. All the photography we sell is done from Hawaii or the local photographers trip to Japan. We are always cycling new art and looking for new artists. Moving forward, we are working with a couple artists to create an actual t-shirt line, and we will have artists featured in some of the t-shirts. We also do the art wall, where the stores are open a little later and show off their art,” said Francois.

Heratij has been working closely with the Montclair Bid, who takes care of the restoration and event planning for Montclair. They had a fashion show in November at the Wellmont Theater, and are now working with lululemon to develop a program called the “love your brain” event, to bring awareness to traumatic brain injuries. For their rip and recycle program, they hosted a coming out party for that event which was sponsored by a beer company. They have also had a “make music” event that they worked with the town for, and had somewhere between 1500 people in the store throughout the day, with 5 live bands that played right in the front of their store.

“We were basically just trying to bring more people to the street and for them to realize that we are very community based,” said Francois.

To find out more information on Heratij, you can visit their website at www.heratij.com, like them on Facebook (facebook.com/pages/Heratij), and follow them on Instagram at, @heratij.

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