by Brad Carlson, photos by Mark Dyrud
Jerry Blackburn’s nearly decade-long effort to market serpent-pattered camouflage was expected to hit some milestones July 1, the target date for making his first clothing sets available and launching the SerpentSkinCamo.com website. Also that day, television hosts who have worn his products on their hunting-themed program for nearly two years were scheduled to move to a higher-profile channel.
At the end of May, about two weeks before Serpent Skin Camo LLC expected its first production run of about 1,200 complete sets to be going full-bore, he said he expected demand to exceed expectations in part because viewers of the Cross Hairs with Kris and Clay Hair show have been asking about it.
Serpent Skin Camo principals believe their U.S.-made clothing stands a good chance to succeed based on its design, functionality, and durability.
The company is based in Leadore, where Blackburn recently purchased a small building for storage, shipping, and some display, and where daughter Jeri Ann Beyeler is based as general manager. Garn Blackburn, Jerry’s son, is in the Boise area as marketing and sales manager.
“Once we make product available for purchase, we believe sales will go very rapidly in the first run,” Garn Blackburn said.
He expects momentum to grow as customers wear and get to know Serpent Skin, targeted for store availability eventually. The patterns also may appear as coating for equipment like gunstocks and bows, he said.
Jerry Blackburn said one of the reasons Serpent Skin’s launch took so long was that he met with a number of U.S. manufacturers before finding one offering a suitable mix of capability, quality, and value. He also spent time submitting trademark and business entity filings and continuing to learn about a fairly involved process.
Applying the camo patterns involves a sublimation process similar to inkjet printing, but for fabric, Beyeler said. The process aims to put colors into, rather than atop, the fabric so different pigments come to the forefront as colors of nearby objects change subtly. Snake-like patterns of many small shapes aid in apparent reflecting and blending.
Garn Blackburn is based in the Boise area partly due to its proximity to many types of physical environments where patterns can be tested. The TV hosts field-tested Serpent Skin in hunting environments around the world.
Jerry Blackburn grew up hunting, fishing, and herding sheep in southern Utah, where he learned about serpent predators’ natural camouflage that he considered superior . He would continue learning about it in military service in Southeast Asia.
“I could see serpents adapted to their environment, highly effective at making camo out of nature’s digital colors,” he said. “Serpents have set the standard for powerful, efficient, camouflage apparel.”
Serpent Skin products, designed for various outdoor activities, feature two general shades and an all-polyester fabric designed to be durable, yet soft and “quiet,” Garn Blackburn said.
Jerry Blackburn, a fully disabled Vietnam War combat veteran, said he plans to pursue a government contracting program geared toward veterans.