The Nutcase Story

The most fun a helmet ever had

coffee-mug-nutcase-storyOn the eve of one of the biggest football games in the history of the state of Oregon, Michael Morrow knew he had to come up with something big.  Having grown up in Corvallis, where Oregon State is located, Michael was a passionate, diehard Beavers fan.  The game he and countless other Beavers fans were excited about was against their rival, the University of Oregon Ducks, located a mere 40 miles to the south in Eugene.  The Ducks were ranked 5th in the nation, the Beavers 8th.  Stakes had never been higher.  A statement needed to be made.

How it all started

Looking for inspiration, Michael spotted an old, black bicycle helmet languishing in his Portland garage.  The idea was hatched.  Michael, a former Creative Director at Nike and, at the time, the head of Morrow Creative, a Portland branding agency, grabbed a role of orange electrical tape and went to work.  Oregon State’s colors are black and orange, so first, Michael applied an orange stripe across the top of the helmet, front to back, and then created an orange “O” on either side.  Next, he glued four, four-inch wood screws onto the top of his helmet, and proceeded to jam four yellow rubber duckies onto the screws.  He drew uniform numbers of Duck players onto the duckies and, as a final touch, crossed out their eyes.

Wearing his new helmet at the stadium the next day elicited one reaction from Beavers fans:  unbridled enthusiasm.  People LOVED it.  During the game, Michael’s brain began to put it all together:  Sports helmets are dull.  They are either licensed cartoon character designs for kids or simple solid colors.  The helmet that is a vibrant extension of a person’s personality…it doesn’t exist.

And so, on November 18, 2000, Nutcase was born.


prototype-nutcase-storyThe Dream Comes to Life

Michael went to his “lab” and spent six years developing his idea…and in the Spring of 2005, Nutcase was presented to the world.

The objective of Nutcase helmets is to combine highly visual graphics with multi-purpose helmet designs that are popular among bicycle, skateboard, scooter and in-line skate enthusiasts.

“We recognized a gap in the marketplace for cycle and skate helmets, where they were either solid black or a licensed character. There was nothing ‘cool’ from a graphics standpoint for youth and adults,” said Morrow. “We made Nutcase helmets for ourselves, our kids and our friends. The response has been tremendous.”

“The first thing I thought was this is a super fun idea that needed to be turned into a new business. Helmets that reflect the participant’s allegiance to an idea, or reflect their personal style were nowhere to be found”, said Morrow. The first thing he did was look at helmets offered in stores from specialty shops to mass merchants, and discovered that when it comes to cool graphics on helmets, there are few. “Most helmet graphics are either cheesy or based on cartoon characters, which means anybody over three is pretty much excluded. I believe there are kids and adults who want to ride their bikes or skate boards in a simpler helmet shape than the aerodynamic cycle helmet style, and would like a product that is more visually fun and expressive than just another black helmet”, said Morrow.

With helmet laws evolving in nearly every state, more and more riders will be required to wear helmets. Morrow feels that Nutcase provides just the right kind of creativity to inspire kids of all ages to want to wear helmets, rather than being told to wear them and reluctantly doing so out of fear of a ticket or the wrath of their parents. “People are not going to wear helmets any less in the future, so somebody has to make them more exciting to wear. That ‘somebody’ is Nutcase!” said Morrow.

Nutcase is now a leading designer of helmets for bike fanatics, skate and snowboarders and people who want to stand out in the water.  Headquartered in Portland, Nutcase manages design innovation and booming international safes efforts across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.