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Rory Underhill, overcrook. Photo: Tom Sparey
Interview

Founders Interview: Rory Underhill of Lifetime Laces

How did Lifetime Laces come about? Was it one too many broken shoelaces and you couldn’t bear it anymore?
I would break laces all the time, always just before getting something I had been trying for hours or midway through filming a line… As it turned out, the more skaters I met, the more I saw had wrecked laces and when I asked them about it, it pissed them off too! I set out to solve the problem, more than start a business. I did a ton of research into materials and different applications of them, then had a factory make up some samples for me. One of them blew me away and that turned into our first generation ‘Original’ lace.

We always love to read personal stories so tell us, where do you come from, Rory? When did you start skateboarding? And how?
I’m from a small town in the UK called East Grinstead. It’s not got much going on but it had a pretty basic skatepark. So as a twelve-year-old boy with mostly male friends we all wound up with boards and that was that, down for life from that point.

Phil Batchelor, kickflip fakie. Photo: Chris Dale

Phil Batchelor, kickflip fakie. Photo: Chris Dale

Who else is behind Lifetime?
The homies I skate with have all played a part in it as it developed, getting clips for the cause and helping out with ideas. The main dudes I couldn’t be doing it without are my business partners Myles Cantello and Phil Batchelor. Funnily enough, these were the older guys that looked out for me when I was a grom. Myles handles the UK shipping and distribution alongside all our video production (plus loads of creative ideas that push things forward). Check out the last videos he made for our Bristol Fix-Up entries. Phil is our team manager and for sure one of the best dudes on the team itself. He’s got a hardflip that will knock your socks off.

Who’s on the team? How did you meet everyone? Do you want to expand the team right now?
Apart from Myles and Phil, we have some other killer members on the team. Conor Manion is another homie from the local park with a ridiculously deep bag of tricks. That was the initial team and then we added a few others. I noticed Alex Griffiths on Instagram a few years ago when he was thirteen, he was shredding vert ramps all over the world and I had learned that vert skaters break laces as much as street skaters, so we got him on to spread the word in the vert world. Then Moose Tarry was a younger generation skater from our local park who grew up and got better than all of us… that guy is going places for sure. Our newest addition was Matze Wieschermann, a German am skater that reached out to us. Turns out the dude is a clip machine and on some big companies, plus one of the nicest guys I have had the pleasure of dealing with… we didn’t need any convincing there!

Which of your riders goes through the most laces?
Phil for sure, that guy will break a normal lace in about ten minutes of warm up! Luckily ours give him quite a bit longer, but he still gets the most care packages.

Did you notice over time any correlation between your skating style and the amount of laces you need?
The more tre flips and kickflips I do, the more laces I break! It’s a weird one really… I thought that all skaters would break laces at about the same rate as me, but some people don’t even scratch them. Different styles I suppose. I now barely ever change my laces despite having access to fresh ones, one pair of our originals usually lasts me through two pairs of shoes.

Tell us about the new Formula X laces.
The two main things we get tons of requests for are flat laces and white laces. Up until recently, there wasn’t a way of making these using our original formula as they came out weaker. We were working on these issues when Krak asked us if we wanted to be part of their next box, so we went into hyperdrive to make sure we could get something super fresh and new for all the subscribers to see. Lots of agonising research and testing later, we got our 10th sample (The X in Formula X…) in the mail and it was super tough—we finally cracked it! We could make them in flat or round and in any colour with a huge bonus that they would also be 20x stronger than normal laces—doubling our last lace!

Alex Griffiths, melon. Photo: Justin Thomas

Alex Griffiths, melon. Photo: Justin Thomas

Why did you change the formula actually? Where you unhappy with the previous one?
I’m still stoked on the strength and quality of our original laces. No other company has been able to match them. They have been running for a while now and we had wanted to do a new product, half so that our loyal customers get their requests met, but also so nobody else can catch up with us!

When you say that “the new laces are 20x stronger than normal laces, a 100% increase in strength from our last line” how do you come up with these numbers? Do you run special tests? Do you have any sort of “laces lab test,” haha? But seriously, how do you test the strength of laces?
We essentially simulate the motion that’s going on when your foot scrapes along the griptape. We use a control cotton lace from a skate shoe and all tests are run a minimum of three times per lace to build an average. Basically, we just secure the lace to a surface and repeatedly scrape it with 10cm of fresh griptape – normally Jessup or Mob as these are pretty harsh straight out the box and this is what your average skater is using. The cotton lace is normally gone after 5–10 hits. Our originals put up the fight for about 100–120 hits, but the new Formula X managed 274 hits on it’s best test, averaging out at about 250 — so we use 20x just to be safe.

I noticed something really interesting on your website: at some point, you say that stronger laces will increase the lifetime of your shoe directly. Could you explain this a bit more?
This was a total ‘happy accident’ that we discovered down the line. If you have your laces tied in a bow, then the loop hangs over the side of the shoe, conveniently getting between your foot and the board when you flip it. All that nasty power from the griptape gets soaked up by the lace instead of your shoe. I didn’t think it would have that much an effect until my shoes were still looking pretty good after a month of skating—something that would normally leave them tattered and holey.

Have you talked to shoe companies to sell your laces directly to them?
We tried to get our foot in the door with a few of them but what we ended up finding out was of all the components that go together to make a shoe, the company places the shoelace at the bottom of the budget, most of the time spending no more than 10 cents on each one, so as you can imagine they didn’t take to the idea. Plus I think that skate shoe companies have quite a lot of planned obsolescence built in to keep people buying shoes, if you make a shoe that lasts twice as long, you get half the revenue as nobody is buying that second pair they normally would. We’re still open to it! If one of the Van Doren’s is reading this right now, hit me up, I’ll give you a great price.

Is there in fact a brand that gives and/or makes better laces than the others?
I think Nike tried some special laces and the Janoski’s had leather ones to start with, but I don’t think that led anywhere for them and they returned to cotton/synthetic laces. Supra ran a range called TUF for a little while that was supposed to have tougher materials, but I don’t think that became a big seller for them either.

Phil Batchelor, hardflip over Conor. Photo: James Griffiths

Phil Batchelor, hardflip over Conor. Photo: James Griffiths

You mentioned in an email that you went greener with the packaging too. Was it important to you? Why?
I try to be a pretty eco person. Our last packaging was a resealable plastic bag which was designed for re-use (the second greenest method of production) for storing skate bits etc. but as it turned out most people just chucked it in the bin right away. Not good. This time I accepted that most people don’t care too much about what happens to their waste and tried to plan for that. The new box is made from 100% recycled card and even if people don’t recycle it, it will degrade fairly harmlessly in a landfill.

What’s in your mind for the future? Are you aiming for stronger and stronger laces all the time or do you want to expand to other products at some point?
We looked into using our materials to make super tough skate clothing, but it’s crazy expensive to do. I just want to keep an ear to the ground and see what our customers are asking for, so this is speaking directly to you KrakBox subscribers—If you try the laces and they are missing something you want, or you think you have a good idea, shoot us a message from our website or via our Insta. We read them all and if enough people ask, we will do it. Who knows what the future holds.

Moose Tarry, back tail. Photo: Matej Kardelis

Moose Tarry, back tail. Photo: Matej Kardelis

Is there any pro (in skate history) who had a special/weird relationship with their laces? Like changing them few times a day or having different colors on each foot or anything else…
Not a pro, but there was a dude at our local park that would wrap duct-tape around the whole lace part of his shoe so they wouldn’t break. You know we gave that guy some laces haha!

Do you wear your laces as a belt too? Do you recommend it, haha?
Oh for sure! I have so many goddamn laces and samples in my house it’s ridiculous. Naturally they get used everywhere they can. Plus when you see someone with a lace belt you know they are a skater and can give them a nod. Part of that big family we’re all in with our scuffed shoes and scarred elbows.

Matze Wieschermann, kickflip. Photo: Faby Reichenbach

Matze Wieschermann, kickflip. Photo: Faby Reichenbach

Jake Baldini, boardslide. Photo: Max Zahradnik
Interview

Interview: Adult Inc. team rider Jake Baldini

Where did you grow up and when did you start skating?
I was born and raised in Bangor Pennsylvania, a really small town 90 miles east of NYC. I had little plastic skateboards from the 1970s around my house my whole life from my aunts and uncles and I was riding those as far as I can remember but I don’t remember when exactly I got my first real skateboard. I think it had completely taken over by the time I was 9 or 10.

Jake Baldini. Photo: John Shanahan

Jake Baldini. Photo: John Shanahan

You’ve obviously started with Adult right from the very beginning. What’s been your involvement in bringing the brand to life?
It’s still the very beginning. I was able to go along to the manufacturers warehouse and see the operation and be involved in deciding on shape and size, which was fun. It’s still so new… Anthony is open to a lot of different ideas and making it fun though so we will all be involved as it progresses.

Anthony told us you were especially vocal in wanting the company to be East Coast rooted. Why was that important to you? What do you think it is about the East Coast skate scene that makes it special?
Well it is rooted here, this is where we live and generally skate. It didn’t make sense to me to have the skateboards made in California or somewhere else by some people that are over there. Chapman has been doing it for a long time and the warehouse is located on Long Island so we can actually go there, communicate with the people who are doing it where we are doing it. Skateboarding here is just different, it’s been said a million times but there is a certain aesthetic, it’s obvious. There are a lot of skaters here doing cool things, making cool videos because they want to and there is nothing to be had in return as far as the industry goes because there isn’t really one on this side of the country. I don’t know if that makes it special but it’s definitely different.

Jake Baldini. Photo: Mac Shafer

Jake Baldini. Photo: Mac Shafer

What was it like filming ‘Back Pages’? Was that your first time skating and filming with the other guys on the Adult team?
That was all footage we collected with different filmers and gave to Sam McCormick who edited it. I haven’t met everyone yet.

Do you consider yourself to be good at ‘adulting’?
That depends on what “adulting” really is. I’ll go with yes.

Jake Baldini, ollie. Photo: James Juckett

Jake Baldini, ollie. Photo: James Juckett

Jake Baldini, backside flip. Photo: James Juckett

Jake Baldini, backside flip. Photo: James Juckett

Cover image: Jake Baldini, boardslide. Photo: Max Zahradnik

This interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 18 that shipped with the Love KrakBox. Want to get your hands on a copy of the next printed KrakMag? Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!

Adult Inc
Interview

Founders Interview: Anthony Pappalardo of Adult Inc.

Inspired by the likes of Phelps, Gitter and Pushead, Anthony Pappalardo kicked off his writing career contributing to Slap at the ripe age of 19 and went on to write multiple books covering the hardcore music scene. These days he’s a contributing writer for Jenkem and Vice, and he’s just recently launched the new East Coast rooted skate brand, Adult Inc. To celebrate, we’ve teamed up to bring you a KrakBox exclusive Adult Inc. pin and tee! We also took the opportunity to talk to Anthony about being raised by skateboarding, music and bad tv, and how it’s shaped him and the brand.

Jerry Mraz. Photo: Patrick Buckley

Jerry Mraz. Photo: Patrick Buckley

Let’s start with some background details: when and how did you get into skateboarding, when did you become a writer, and when did you put the two together?
Do you remember the movie Thrashin’? It’s not good. Much like Gleaming the Cube/A Brother’s Revenge was also trash, but those two movies along with the much more iconic Back to the Future got a lot of ‘80s kids into skating or at least landed them a Christmas/ Holiday complete.

Check this out though, the female lead in Thrashin’ was played by Pamela Gidley, who was a beauty pageant winner and from Salem, NH, the town my family moved to when I was 10. This was a big story in the local paper. I guess she got some loot, because she bought a DeLorean—the exact car in fucking Back to the Future. It sat in front of this suburban ranch home for years and was about half the length of the home. Anyway, like most kids I asked for a skateboard one Christmas, but unlike most of my friends, I actually rode it all the time—in my basement, in my garage, and on the streets when the snow melted. New England winters suck. The hardest part wasn’t even the actual skateboarding, but rather, finding people to skate with until you get your driver’s license—at least for me, as I lived in a place without public transportation that would take you to a city.

On the East Coast, specifically the Northeast, there weren’t many devoted skate shops yet—it was mostly BMX shops that carried skateboards. I rode my bike to this spot called Flyin’ Wheels and got an issue of Thrasher. That was a big deal. I immediately subscribed and devoured every page until the next arrived, along with getting a free Skate Rock cassette with the sub—a real introduction to this imaginary culture that only lived in my head. More importantly, I was reading about skateboarding written by skateboarders, as well as music that I had only heard of in passing… I mean fuck, I was 12 or some shit.

Adult Inc

Phelps. Gitter. Pushead. Here’s why this trinity was important. Jake Phelps had lived in Boston and was a legend before working for Thrasher and was a roadie for SS Decontrol, arguably the most important hardcore band from the city. Mike Gitter published his own zine called xXx and parlayed that into a freelance music journalism career and later A&R lane. He was also from Boston and wrote for the mag. Pushead had the Metallica/Zorlac connection and he was also an incredible writer, who captured what a band actually sounded like. OK, he was in SF, but it didn’t matter. Knowing that some of the roots of all of this connected back to something local made it more tangible to me.

I started working on my own terrible zines, then contributing to better ones, before I was introduced to Lance Dawes at Slap, through I believe Vern Laird and Sergei Trudnowski—I’m foggy on that. Dawes had a deep hardcore history, growing up in the Washington, D.C. area and he allowed me to submit some music reviews to Slap, as well as later letting me write about some skate events and interview bands. I was 19 and contributed to Slap into the early 2000s. I’m scared to read most of that stuff—I’m sure it was full of cliches and poor grammar, but it didn’t matter, as that opened things up for me and I actually got paid.

Brian Douglas. Photo: Zander Taketomo

Brian Douglas. Photo: Zander Taketomo

You’ve also played in hardcore bands and been involved in that scene—including writing a few books about it—did music and skateboarding go hand in hand when you were growing up? Did one influence the other?
For sure, but I think that there’s a bit of revisionist history in that the connection to hip-hop and rap gets left out of this Southern California fairytale. Contextually, as the first wave of hardcore is fading, rap/hip-hop forces its way into mainstream culture. That was equally vital and exciting, even if—at least in the Boston area—it wasn’t experienced in all-ages matinees. In the same way that we’d search out punk singles, we’d look for hip-hop 12”s or rare B-Sides. I mean, if you saw Plan B Questionable, you wanted to know who Hieroglyphics were as much as you wanted a Firehose or Dinosaur Jr cassette years prior. Boston historically had a big hardcore scene, but around 1990 it shrunk a bit, so if you saw someone at a show who looked like they skated, chances are you run into them at a spot and you became friends.

Skating and hardcore punk were similar in that they made you travel outside of your town—once you got a taste, you wanted to experience it other places. You want to go to CBGB and skate the Brooklyn Banks, etc. Later getting to go on tour and play so many historic venues as well as legendary skate spots was a trip. I mean, fuck, we played Gilman Street in Berkeley, CA and there ended up being a skate contest in SF. That was the first time I saw Mark Gonzales skate in person. Fuck.

Jerry Mraz. Photo: Jonathan Mehring

Jerry Mraz. Photo: Jonathan Mehring

So you’ve just launched your new skate brand ‘Adult’—congrats! You told Jenkem that when the opportunity to start the brand came up you hesitated because there are so many brands already, but then you decided you were overthinking it. Did you just decide to take the gamble or did you realise that there was a gap you could fill?
Honestly, it will work or it won’t. I try not to stay in my own head. The skateboarding industry is a lot like memes at this point. Sometimes I look at the shit and wonder what it even means—am I too old to get the humor? Is that what a 16-year-old somewhere in the world likes? We just stepped back and made what we thought would be interesting and looked right on a skateboard. The entire idea of starting a company where the profit margins suck is counter to capitalism, so in that sense, it’s not even a business. It’s not a hobby either, it’s a creative outlet, so I look at a brand like I would painting or fine art. How many artists make money in their lifetime? Well, sadly, mostly the shitty ones do or at least the ones I don’t find interesting. Ha.

You threw around ideas for the brand with artist Noah Butkus and he art directed the video ‘Back Pages’ which you launched with. Is he responsible for all the graphics in the first range? What is it about his aesthetic that you like and why did you think it was right for Adult?
Noah is one third of the brand along with Cortney Miner. He’s the visual identity and will be creating the brand’s aesthetic as long as it exists. What attracted me to what he does, is that it has a familiarity, but it’s distinct. It’s his own thing and language that I think translates into what looks good on a skateboard. We set up this guardrail of using a little restraint and trying to create some tone without giving it all away. Are you really going to outdo Cliver or McKee? Is that even possible in this current landscape/post-analog world? It’s similar to the advent of rip-off graphics in the early-’90s—World Industries owned that, because they put a spin on it, while other companies were looking at a fucking Lay’s Chips logo, wondering what rider’s name started with an “L.”

When you look at what Jason Dill has done with FA/Hockey’s aesthetic, he really had a vision to fill a void, so if you want to play in the space, you not only have to create something more compelling, but you’re against a company owned by two of skateboarding’s most recognizable personalities, with the deepest roster. Good luck. That’s suicide. For Adult, it’s more about thinking of new ways to communicate without being too fucking extra at the same time.

Adult Inc skateboard

I’ve read that you were into B-grade movies and old Marvel cartoons as a kid and I can see some of this in the look of Adult. That, and the collage DIY style reminiscent of the hardcore scene. Was there much thought put into the brand aesthetic or was it the natural direction based on your own tastes and influences?
On one hand, I firmly believe that everyone inherently has a voice and when you try to change it, rather than refine it, it’s counter to the creative process. Conversely, anyone in my age group that got into skating, punk, indie, whatever, probably had the same experience. We were latchkey kids, raised by an era of television when cable wasn’t in every home, so you just watched what was on. The later the day got, the weirder the programming. You’re some kid drunk on sleep staring at the USA network at 1AM, watching a movie that probably shouldn’t have gotten made. It’s slightly off and slightly right on. So there’s that.

That commonality is automatic and you can’t control it, but we also both agreed that we wanted to own our visuals. Why are we going to pay to print other people’s art that wasn’t created with skating in mind? That’s been done. Also, nostalgia is a game for old people. I may be old, but I’m not interested in recreating my youth or thinking Adult should be like H-Street or Santa Cruz. I mean, let’s be honest, a lot of H-Street’s graphics kinda sucked—it’s easy to remember a Hensley graphic, but who the fuck is scouring eBay for a John Sonner board?

Adult Inc skateboard

The t-shirt you’ve done exclusively for this KrakBox has a hardcore album reference. What’s the story behind the design?
The “spit” graphic is something Noah drew up that immediately felt right for Adult and is a character that we can evolve. As far as the reference, it was a nod to a time, put in a new context. It’s actually less about Greg Ginn or Black Flag, but the colors and typography on that Gone album. The hope is that someone connects the dots and digs that record, but it’s kind of an outlier in that those references aren’t really in the line at all.

Adult Inc

Also, Gone took that line/sample from an Elvis track called “Milk Cows Boogie,” so it’s that tradition of reappropriating, as much as it is a little homage. His version came out in 1955, pre-dating the King getting real, real gone himself.

Tell us about that bag of sketchy polaroids you found in the woods as a kid.
Actually, there was this overpass near my house and depending on the water levels, you could walk across this creek or stream or whatever, if the rocks were poking through. Real suburban idiot shit, because they were usually slippery and you were bound to fall. Some creep had to have planted them or at least sent a perved out “message in a bottle,” because stuck on one of these rocks was a clear ziplock bag filled with Polaroids. I grabbed the bag and jumped back to the shore, only to find several pics of some hairy guy’s junk. My brain was thinking “boobs,” but then it was an uncircumsized dick, so that was a bit anticlimactic. I guess the experience would have been way different if I were attracted to men, but that wasn’t the case. One’s trash truly is another’s treasure. But honestly, I still believe some lurker saw us always fucking around down at this place and planted them.

Frankie Nash, 180 50-50 from flat. Photo: Leo Menezes

Frankie Nash, 180 50-50 from flat. Photo: Leo Menezes

The team consists of Jerry Mraz, Frankie Nash, Brian Douglas and Jake Baldini. Why did you choose these guys?
They’re East Coast, they’re all different, but they all share the thread of telling this story. Most importantly, they all have been so patient and trusting of us so far and have been giving real, unfiltered feedback. For example, Jake was really vocal about wanting the brand to work with Chapman Skateboards and really continue the lineage of East Coast skateboarding, as well as work with someone who really put this on the map. That’s what’s really important to me. We went out to Long Island, looked at concaves, and just shot the shit, taking in the magnitude of what they’ve been able to do for skateboarding. The place is a lowkey museum.

Lastly, where can we get our hands on the first Adult range?
For this first drop we’re only selling directly to shops—no online sales direct to consumer. Yup, another fucking dumb idea, but hopefully it builds a little synergy with the local shops that are so vital to skateboarding. We’ll eventually sell online, since not everyone is near a shop, but for now, if you want Adult, tag a shop on our Instagram or ask your local politely—don’t be a punisher.

Adult Inc

This interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 18 that shipped with the Love KrakBox. Want to get your hands on a copy of the next printed KrakMag? Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!

Skateistan South Africa Skate and Create students. Photo: Tim Moolman
Interview

Sk8ology x Skateistan

We love Skateistan more and more over time. We met them in Berlin a few years ago and immediately fell in love with their work, dedication and true love. That’s why we picked up a special Sk8ology x Skateistan carabiner for this mix. We’re stoked that their mission resonates with more and more people in our community.

Tell us about the Skate Carabiner Tool. What was the inspiration for it?
At my previous company I created the UNIT “T” Tool. It does everything except cut grip tape but it’s too big to carry. I wanted to design a skate tool that was a combination of ninja butterfly knife and fully functional skate tool… the engineering firm I was working with really didn’t want the liability of skate tool combined with an instrument of death so we did some research and settled on the carabiner form. The design allowed us to drop a ton of weight, act as a keychain/bottle opener, and always be available for quick tune ups. In addition, it works great to hang your backpack high up so you can see it from wherever you are skating. It came with one trade off: It’s a pain to build up a complete from scratch with it simply because it’s a “tune up” tool… not a “build a complete” tool… oh, and since I’ve had mine, I’ve never lost a set of keys!

Skate and Create Girls Session in Phnom Penh ©Skateistan

Skate and Create Girls Session in Phnom Penh ©Skateistan

Why did you decide to partner with Skateistan for this product?
Long story short, they bring the joy of skateboarding to places where “joy” is in very short supply. Go to the website, YouTube ’em, if you are not touched by the impact they are making then you are not human. Everyone that backs Skateistan is legit: Thunder has a Skateistan Truck, Zero makes boards for them, Spitfire does a wheel, Tony Hawk & Jamie Thomas sit on their board of directors. We said, we’d be honored to be their Sk8 tool supplier/licensee so we started making them and paying them a royalty. We’ll back them forever.

Sk8ology carabiner

Skateistan - Empowering youth through education and skateboarding

A short version of this interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 18 that shipped with the Love KrakBox. Want to get your hands on a copy of the next printed KrakMag? Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!

Lisa Whitaker of Meow Skateboards
Interview

Founders Interview: Lisa Whitaker of Meow Skateboards

Lisa Whitaker has a long and impressive history in skateboarding. Though you might not recognise her name, if you follow women’s skateboarding you will surely know her work. Lisa has filmed for a bunch of female skate videos including the legendary ‘Getting Nowhere Faster’ by Villa Villa Cola. She also founded Girls Skate Network and works with the Women’s Skateboarding Alliance. In her most recent venture, Lisa founded Meow Skateboards, which supports one of the best all-female skate teams in the world.

Lisa Whitaker behind the lens

Lisa behind the lens

Why did you decide to start Meow and what were your goals for the company when you first set it up?
My husband had the initial idea to start a company after getting a tax refund. He grew up skateboarding as well and thought it would be a fun project we could work on together.

For me the spark was being at one of the biggest contests with some of the top female skateboarders in the world and realizing a majority of them didn’t have board sponsors and even the top three on the podium were only “flow” and not officially part of the team. I skated for Rookie Skateboards in the late 90s, which was an awesome opportunity for me; now I was in the position to make something similar happen for the next generation.

We weren’t setting out to make a “girls” skate company. We just wanted to start a company for fun that would support a female team, give them something to be a part of and a platform to be seen.

As the gender gap in skateboarding closes, do you see Meow ever sponsoring guys?
I don’t want to compete with things that are already being done and done well. My passion has been filling this void. I’m very excited by a future where a company like this won’t be needed and I’m open to changes as long as we’re doing something unique.

 

Lacey Baker, wallie. Photo: Anthony Renna

Lacey Baker, wallie. Photo: Anthony Renna

Where did the name ‘Meow’ come from? Being a corgi owner, I wouldn’t pick you as the “crazy cat lady” type…
At the time we were trying to come up with a company name a lot of my friends were saying “meow” to each other instead of “hello”. I’m not even sure how that all started or if there was another meaning to it… I was just hearing it a lot and thought it would be a fun name. I also love cats and would likely be a “crazy cat lady” if my husband wasn’t so allergic to them, but don’t tell that to Milo (my corgi).

You have an impressive team of skaters including Lacey Baker and Vanessa Torres. What do you look for when considering skaters for the Meow team? How much of it depends on skill vs. attitude and personality?
I love our current team, we have such a great mix of amazing skateboarders and personalities. It is hard to put in words what I look for, but I know it when I see it. Skill, style, trick selection, speed, personality, self motivation, ability to create content (photos/videos) and sometimes location all factor in.

Mariah Duran, kickflip. Photo: Alex Coles

Mariah Duran, kickflip. Photo: Alex Coles

Do you run Meow entirely on your own? How do you find the time (you have a kid now too!) and the motivation to do it all?
My husband helps pack orders when I have my hands full and he designs the catalog. Other than that I do everything myself… usually in the middle of the night when my son is sleeping. Lack of time is my biggest struggle right now, but I know he won’t be this small forever so I’m enjoying my time with him. It doesn’t take much for me to stay motivated because I love skateboarding and all the people it keeps me connected with.

Last but not least, where can people get their hands on Meow products?
Over the last year or so we have opened several distributors, so our product can now be found around the world. If your local skate shop doesn’t have what you are looking for in stock then you can ask them to order it for you or get it on our website.

Kristin Ebeling, b/s smith. Photo: Tim Urpman

Kristin Ebeling, b/s smith. Photo: Tim Urpman

This interview was originally featured in the printed special edition Yeah Girl KrakMag that shipped with the Yeah Girl capsule box. Want to get your hands on a copy of the next printed KrakMag? Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!

Krak Socks
Box

Skate socks by Krak

A lot of people don’t usually put too much thought into their socks when they get dressed each day. They assume people from the outside don’t really see them, so why bother. Of course there’s some truth in that. But as skateboarders our socks are an essential part of our wardrobe. And though it’s usually a case of function before fashion, we can definitely appreciate a fun pair of good quality, unique socks.

That’s why in the past we have shipped some pairs of Stance socks (amazing comfort); some Toy Machine socks (we love their style) and Enjoi socks, for example. Our feet are special—we’re skateboarders after all—so we want to make sure they’re covered in nothing but the best. Our socks connect our feet to our shoes, which connect us to our boards, which connect us to the world.

If you can read this, bring me my skate shoes

“If you can read this, bring me my skate shoes”

That’s why we decided to make our very own Krak socks for our ‘Xmas’ KrakBox. So pull your socks up! If you’re lazing around with your feet up then it’s time to put on your skate shoes and get out and roll.

These Krak skate socks were included in the Xmas KrakBox. Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!

Amrit & Spencer Fujimoto, 2016 NYC. Photo: David Serrano
Interview

Founders Interview: Amrit Jain of Skate Sauce

If my math is correct, this year is the 10 year anniversary of Skate Sauce. When you started the brand, where did you imagine it would be at this point in time?
Yes this November will be 10 years since I started Skate Sauce. That’s such a trip to even say. Time flies! I have always been an ambitious person so back then I imagined in 10 years the brand would be doing worldwide tours, in the big magazines, have a huge warehouse with a TF and I would be able to work on Skate Sauce full time without depending on a side job. Now that I am here, none of those are happening, haha! But that’s ok. Over the years I have learned so much and understand why we are where we are. The knowledge I have gained and the fun in growing a company is priceless. At the same time I know what I have to do to get to that goal – get an investor to throw down some serious loot.  At the moment we are actually entertaining that idea but I honestly have enjoyed building the brand from the ground up using only the money we started with and whatever profit we made put back into the brand. It may be a little slower growth but I believe it’s kept us around longer than a quick investment that builds hype but may not last. Specially with the way the industry has fluctuated over the past 10 years.

Yeah, surviving as a small business in the skate industry for that long is an accomplishment in itself. What’s the secret?
Patience and persistence. And being smart with how you spend your money. I remember reading some business article 10 years ago that asked the question: if you had $1,000,000 to spend on your company, how would you spend it? They produced two examples. One example was spending that budget in 2-3 years to create a huge amount of hype – ads in the mags, tons of product, pay to have the top Pro skaters, etc. The other example was spending $1,000,000 over 10 years. In their conclusion the company that spent the $1,000,000 in 2-3 years wouldn’t have enough time to build a solid following and value versus the company that’s around for 10 years. That resonated with me a lot. It made me think of companies like Independent Trucks, Bones, etc and how they are the go-to’s, not only because they make quality products, but because they are household names, they have been around so long. So for us we didn’t have a $1,000,000 investment or anything close, but I used that formula of just slow but sure growth. Starting small and growing at our pace – taking the time to see what products work and don’t work, analyzing the industry changing to things like social media and developing an understanding on how to tackle those challenges.

Gavin Nolan, frontside noseblunt, 2016 NYC. Photo: Amrit Jain

Gavin Nolan, frontside noseblunt, 2016 NYC. Photo: Amrit Jain

Is it still a one man show or do you have a team working with you behind the scenes now?
It’s pretty much still a one man show.  It was easier in the beginning but it has been a bit tricky now that we have grown so much.  There is just so much to do from filming new videos to editing them, shooting photos for catalogs and ads, designing new products, making new graphics, sales, overseeing production, accounting, marketing, etc etc. I handle it all while working a full time job at SLS & ETN. But now we are slowly starting to try to build a team. I have a friend named Freddie Lonka who is a rad skater from Denmark and has been helping me lay out the catalog this year. I’ve been looking for a graphic designer for some time now, but I am picky and it’s hard to find someone that will work with our budget and make the type of graphics we like. Also looking for a salesperson. So if you guys know anyone send ‘em our way!

Damn, you’re a busy man! Ok, so if there are any qualified people reading this, how can they get in touch?
Either DM us on Instagram @skatesauce, or DM me @amrit, or email me: amrit@skatesauce.com

Skate Sauce is, in all seriousness, pretty big in Japan. What led to this and how did you first connect with the Japanese riders on the team?
Yea Japan is SAUCED UP!!  The brands success there has helped us grow so much. It all started with a pretty known Japanese skater named Yuto Kojima. He came to live in LA for 5 years and we became friends.  He was the life of the party and actually brought all the LA crews together because he was friends with everyone. Around 2012 a distribution from Japan reached out and wanted to distribute the Sauce.  From there it was really rad to see how much effort the distro put behind the brand. They helped us get ads in the big Japanese mags and built a whole team of really good Japanese skaters. But it all started with Yuto. He was the first Japanese rider and then worked with the distro to help us build a solid team. I was fortunate to meet all of them in 2016 when we did a mini Japan tour and they were all some of the nicest dudes I’ve ever met.

Japan team, 2016. Photo: Amrit Jain

Japan team, 2016. Photo: Amrit Jain

Any funny stories from that tour?
Yes it all had to do with one of the Japanese Skate Sauce riders whose nickname is Junyafire.  For some reason he kept saying DAAAYYYYYUUUMMMMM… TIGHT. Maybe he had just learned about that East Coast slang word TIGHT, but he kept saying that phrase whenever something happened – whether it was someone landing a trick, eating good food, etc etc. And the way he said it was hilarious. You can see some of it in the credits of the Skate Sauce Japan Tour on Youtube.

Let’s talk about your job at Street League and ETN… What do you guys chat about at the water cooler?
Haha currently sitting at my desk looking at that water cooler as I type this… making me thirsty! Working at SLS & ETN has been a dream come true.  Besides wanting to start my own company, I have always wanted to work in skateboarding. I had a brief stint in 2008 before I started Skate Sauce helping Steve Berra build The Berrics as their first official employee. But when I was approached to work for SLS at the end of 2014 it changed my life.  They asked me to run their social media because they liked the way I did social for Skate Sauce. And because of my extensive knowledge of skateboarding I was also able to help contribute to building SLS – from course design to invited skaters to format to judging, etc. In 2016 we started working on the ETN idea and vision. In 2017 we launched ETN and it’s been a fun experience trying to do something new in skateboarding.  As far as water cooler talk, it’s actually a lot of fun games of skate with the other employees, shredding the park, coming up with new ideas for shows, talking about skating, the industry, racking our brains for days to pick the Trick of the Year, etc, etc. Between all of that and running my own skate company, life is currently a dream come true.

Has the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics had an impact on your role there or on the general office vibes (or politics)?
Not so much actually. Maybe next year since that will be the year before the Olympics.  It’s talked about in meetings for sure, and there is a plan I can’t discuss at the moment.  If anything it will help SLS grow which is a cool opportunity. Office vibes haven’t changed one bit.  At the end of the day it will be an event that goes down once every 4 years so I am not too worried about it. It’s not stopping me and my friends from having fun skateboarding!  I just wish I could help make it cool as I am not sure who is in charge of setting up the actual event. As for politics, yea I hear it when I’m out and about at industry parties. There are the die hards that are like, fuck that shit it’s going to ruin skateboarding, the optimistic ones who see the benefits, and the neutral ones who just don’t care and are going to have fun skating no matter what.

Amrit, Oscar Gronbaek, Tom Penny, 2017 Copenhagen

Amrit, Oscar Gronbaek, Tom Penny, 2017 Copenhagen

You’ve been shooting a lot of photos lately… I scoped some cool ones from Copenhagen Open on your Instagram. Do you just shoot for fun or does it tie back into your work with SLS?
It’s mostly just for fun. Ever since I picked up a video camera in 2004 I have been into videography and photography. It was mostly video up until 2010 when I got a Canon 7D and started shooting HD videos while also being able to shoot crispy photos. At the time websites and blogs were still big so I would use the photos for the Skate Sauce blog or for social media or our catalogs. When my HD cam broke in 2014, I started just shooting photos & videos on my iPhone.  Working for SLS in 2015 I pretty much traveled the world with an iPhone and since I had a background of videography & photography I was able to just shoot stuff on my phone and post it instead of waiting for the SLS photogs & filmers to send me stuff. So it does tie back to SLS to a certain extent. In 2016 I bought a Canon AE1 film camera which came out a year after I was born – 1984! That one has been so fun to shoot photos on, like those Copenhagen Open photos.

What do you prefer to shoot, film or digital?
Since everyone has gone full HD/4k/etc I thought it would be cool to go back to shooting photos on film and filming with a VX video camera.  It’s been pretty fun because unlike digital where you see what you shot right away and can fix it, you have to know your shot/lighting/etc for film and cross your fingers that you got the shot. So it’s fun getting the roll developed and seeing if you shot it right or fucked up. And if you shot it right it just looks so dope and classic. Same with VX – the sound of skating is perfect and I just like that raw older look. But I still have fun filming HD on my iPhone 7! It’s a trip to see how good the phones have become at shooting photos & video. As for preference, I like to just balance them both out.

Luis Tolentino, backside powerslide, 2016 NYC. Photo: Amrit Jain

Luis Tolentino, backside powerslide, 2016 NYC. Photo: Amrit Jain

When we spoke to you way back in issue 4 of KrakMag you mentioned you weren’t filming as much as you wanted to. Are there any Skate Sauce videos in the works at the moment?
Yea I def still don’t film as much as I want to. I have been trying to change that but it’s tough these days. Everyone has a camera now so a lot of the guys get tied up shooting other projects. On top of that they don’t always want to film VX and have to wait months for an edit to come out which I totally understand. So I somewhat get it out of my system by filming on the phone, but I truly miss working on a big project over a few years, having the premiere and putting out a DVD. With that said I filmed some sick VX clips in 2016 with a bunch of the guys in LA and Barcelona and have a 4 minute edit called SHAOLIN JAZZ thats marinating at the moment [fresh out the oven, see below! – ed.]. I’m putting the final touches on it and then releasing it in the next few weeks. After that I want to try to work on more smaller projects. Maybe just film over a weekend or two and then put that stuff out after a few weeks instead of trying to work on larger projects.

Lastly, what are you excited for in 2018?
I’m excited and thankful to still be able to do what I do and to ride a skateboard down the street. Thats def number 1, nothing can top that feeling. For Skate Sauce I am excited to see where we go this year and hoping we can find that graphic designer to help us get to the next level.  We have some new products we are designing that I am hoping to drop this year as well as some new distributions around the world that are interested. I also have an idea for a Sauce shop that I want to do. I don’t want to reveal it yet but it’s not just a skateshop. Other than that I am super hyped for another year of traveling the world with SLS/ETN while spreading the SAUCE!

This interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 18 that shipped with the Love KrakBox. Want to get your hands on a copy of the next printed KrakMag? Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!

Flo Marfaing, 2017 Barcelona. Photo: Amrit

Flo Marfaing, 2017 Barcelona. Photo: Amrit Jain

Oscar Gronbaek, kickflip, 2011 Barcelona. Photo: Amrit Jain

Oscar Gronbaek, kickflip, 2011 Barcelona. Photo: Amrit Jain

Amrit, Tom Penny, Evan Smith & Josef Scott Jatta. 2015 Barcelona. Photo: Thomas Winkle

Amrit, Tom Penny, Evan Smith & Josef Scott Jatta. 2015 Barcelona. Photo: Thomas Winkle

Yuri Murai filming Sayaka Jino Giannini
Interview

Meet Yuri Murai the filmmaker behind Joy and Sorrow 3

There’s a lot more to skateboarding in Japan than the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Though it only dates back a little over 30 years, skateboarding has deep roots there and a particularly strong girls scene. Filmmaker Yuri Murai, has been documenting Japan’s female skaters since 2013 and last year released the third video in the series, Joy and Sorrow 3.

This is the third Joy and Sorrow DVD you have made. Why did you decide to start filming them and what inspired you to keep making more?
I had always wondered why there were no girl skate videos, although there are many boy skate videos. I met many girl skaters who were really good but there were no girl skate videos. I thought, if only there was a video that I could use to shout out to the world that there are many good and cool girl skaters in Japan. So I decided to make it.

I made more because thoughts like “I wanna try this idea”, “I should’ve filmed it from this angle”, and such go through my head and it’s so fun to actually make the improvements in the sequels. To me it’s an endless fun cycle of creating and improving.

Mirei Tsuchida

Mirei Tsuchida

What camera do you usually film with?
I use a Sony VX2000 camera. I always film skating (no photography) as I want to show the audience the speed and aggressiveness of the movement.

Do you film, edit and produce everything yourself? Do you have any support from skate brands?
Yes, I film, edit and produce everything on my own. None of the videos were sponsored or supported by skate brands. I personally think skateboarding is nothing but playing around, so when it comes to making videos, I just try to play around as seriously as I can.

Which skate video gets you most hyped to skate?
Ummm, there’s no video in particular. I just watch whatever video that matches my mood at the moment.

Although I do love watching the billiard part from “Overground Broadcasting”, a Japanese skate video created by Morita Takahiro. I recommend anyone reading this to check it!

How long have you been skating and what’s your favorite thing to skate?
I skate about 3–4 times a week. I don’t have any particular obstacles that I like skating. To me, it’s more about who you’re skating with. Any obstacle is fun as long as I’m skating it with people who I click with. I’d say quarter pipes are my forté though.

Yuri Murai on the VX

Yuri Murai on the VX

There are more and more female skaters from Japan, like Aori Nishimura and Kisa Nakamura, making names for themselves around the world. Has the number of Japanese female skaters increased recently or are they just now starting to travel and compete globally? What do you think has changed?
The number of female skaters in Japan has definitely been increasing over the past few years. It’s true that there have been some female skaters that went and skated abroad but most of them went for vacation and not for contests like Aori and Kisa. I think it’s only recently that skateboarding started becoming popular in Japan. To be honest, I’m not sure why this is happening. Maybe it’s because there are more skateparks in Japan than before.

What do you think about skateboarding being in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
Now, skaters are being picked up on general TV shows. It was impossible until now for something like this. It’s really changing. Even the number of skate parks is increasing. The number of people who started getting interested in skateboarding is up. I hope many people who are interested in Japanese skaters, parks, and films want to come skating in Japan from all over the world.

Can we expect to see Joy and Sorrow 4 in the future? What’s next for you, Yuri?
Joy And Sorrow 3 is going to be the last one for the series. My next goal is to create a video that would inspire other girls to be filmers.

Nanaka Fujisawa, noseslide

Nanaka Fujisawa, noseslide

Cover image: Yuri Murai filming Sayaka Jino Giannini. All photos courtesy of Yuri Murai.

This interview was originally featured in the printed special edition Yeah Girl KrakMag that shipped with the Yeah Girl capsule box. Want to get your hands on a copy of the next printed KrakMag? Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!

Rob Brink The Hundredth Acre
Interview

Founders Interview: Rob Brink of The Hundredth Acre

Rob Brink’s career has seen him go from a skate shop employee in New Jersey to one of skateboarding’s hardest working behind the scenes guys. He’s worked for companies like DC Shoes and Sole Tech, written for TransWorld and hosted Weekend Buzz. There are plenty of interviews out there about Rob’s involvement in skateboarding, but we wanted to chat to him about something a little different: his candle company, The Hundredth Acre.

There are plenty of interviews out there already that cover your extensive history working in the skate industry so I won’t dig too much into that. But for those who don’t know, can you give us a brief summary of how you went from a skate shop employee in New Jersey to skateboarding’s hardest working behind the scenes guy?
It was such a whirlwind that sometimes I can’t even remember it all happening. Once I gave up hopes of becoming a legit sponsored skater, I continued college and then grad school. All along I’d been working at a bagel shop and a skate shop … and by the end of grad school, about summer 2000, I quit the bakery to work full time as a book editor at a small publishing house in NJ. But the whole time kept working remotely, for free, helping the skate shop with their buying. I kept that door open because I loved working in skating and didn’t want to not have it in my life. At the exact same time, Tim O’Connor, who was a good friend of mine, was blowing up. He introduced me to all the mag editors and they were all super gracious in giving me a chance. Ted Newsome at TWS, Aaron Meza at Skateboarder, Eric Stricker at Strength. So I was a book editor, freelance writing for skate mags and buying for the shop all at once.

Then the shop came back at me with a full time General Manager offer. People were tripping because I’d gotten my foot in the door in publishing in such a short time … but I knew if I went back to the shop and immersed myself in skating fully again, I could focus on the writing more while sitting there all day, and using that as a way to get myself out west. So after 3 years at the shop again, I got a job offer from DC shoes and moved to California. From there, 8 years at Sole Tech. All the while, writing for TransWorld or being staff writer for The Skateboard Mag and doing other stuff on the side. Then I helped launch Ride Channel and with that, Weekend Buzz came along. Soon after was the opportunity to help launch Primitive skate, for a year and a half, which is awesome to see doing well.

I’m telling you all this because I’ve basically had 2-4 jobs since 1997. I just kept chasing what I loved and working hard and doing what felt right. Kids hit me up all the time asking me how to get there. But to be honest, I rarely see anyone who has the drive and the commitment to do what needs to be done. It takes serious work and sacrifice. Like I said, I don’t remember a ton of it because I was sleep deprived, stressed out and also enjoying the ride. I was out of my mind on a mission to get published or to have my interviews or brands I worked for be the best they could be.

The Hundredth Acre candles by Rob Brink

What’s your involvement in the skate industry these days?
I think I’m “the guy who put enough time in to still be invited.” Hahaha. I’m stoked I’m still allowed to be involved and to be honest, it’s so fun being able to just be a fan, without any allegiance to a certain brand. I can just be a skater again and enjoy video premieres and contests and stuff. But as for involvement, I don’t have any really. Buzz is done after 5 years. I don’t work for any skate brands, instead I have been working for a nutrition brand outside of skateboarding and it’s been going really well. They are called Orgain and I am the director of content and social marketing. They have been great to me and I’m learning a lot.

My last articles were in Playboy earlier this year. I have sort of stepped back for a reboot and to work on my brand. But I’ll be back soon in some capacity I hope. I always want to write. I want to start a new podcast because I miss Weekend Buzz so much and I still feel there is something missing from skate interviews and shows that I could bring to the table, the way I think they should be done.

I read in your interview with Get Born that your first ‘foot in the door’ moments in your career were kind of just “random happenings”. Would you say that a lot of your career has evolved like this?
Random happenings that came from a lot of hard work. Yes. I’d say all I’ve done is a split between luck and then the persistence of chasing something. Like, for example, even recently with Playboy … that was a DREAM mag of mine to write for and NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS would I think it would happen. So much so that I never even tried. But I was job hunting outside the skate industry in 2016, before the Orgain gig happened, and spoke with some random woman on LinkedIn who worked for Playboy to see if they had any digital marketing openings. I just hit her up. I wasn’t even applying to a job. When she saw I was a writer she kind of ignored the digital thing and passed me on to the editor and he asked for pitches. Next thing I know I’m interviewing Dill for Playboy and had Brian Anderson’s first interview after he came out on Vice? Dude, for me, it was fucking nuts. Not long before that I’d also interviewed Gonz, Neil Blender and Tony Alva all for mags outside of skateboarding. I had a 5-year run with Weekend Buzz and interviewed hundreds of skaters and had the best times. That’s why I have chilled out a bit. So much good shit happened that I felt so fulfilled, if that makes any sense? I didn’t need to be chasing every opportunity to do every little skate interview I could, or more talk shows. Like when you have a great meal and it’s the end of the night, you don’t want more food, you know? You are content.

Rob Brink

Was your transition into candle making a result of random happenings? It seems like a big jump from working in skateboarding.
It sounds random as hell, I know. But this should put it into perspective. I wanted to start a brand. But the skate world doesn’t need another hardware or griptape or hat or tee shirt brand or even another blog or magazine, you know? Plus I’m the old guy now. Skate brands should be started by the kids or the pros… like Hardies or Dads or WKND or Numbers or FA/Hockey. That shit is sick! I wanted to start something that was a reflection of me. And the other half of me, the non-skate half, is the writer. So the idea was to create a lifestyle brand for writers and bookworms and people like that. A brand I could tie into skating when possible. “Things for Thinkers” is kinda the mantra. The Hundredth Acre is not just a candle brand. I have pens, tees, I am working on journals and tea as well. Just all the things that accompany my journey as a writer, with the aesthetic of libraries and children’s stories and great literature and legendary authors and typewriters and a “writer’s cabin in the woods” vibe.

But the candles were the first thing and the main thing because they are wildly popular. A growing industry. And I figured out how to make them myself pretty easy. And they are a vehicle to tell stories with every single scent. And when people pick them up and say to me “Oh my God this reminds me of my grandfather I need to have this.” And they start telling me about their grandfather’s pipe smoking and how this pipe tobacco candle smells just like him … I have done so much more than made and sold a product. I have told a story to someone else who has a similar story. We share a story. I brought back amazing memories for them, transported them back in time, whatever … it’s so much more than just a product.

My other goal was to be as eco-friendly and socially responsible as possible. I use all natural soy wax grown in the USA. My jars are partially recycled and recyclable. My boxes are recycled and recyclable. The bag it comes in is reusable. My oils are phthalate-free and not tested on animals. I hire my friends to make my supplies whenever I can. Skaters make my tees and stickers and shoot my product photography and design my logos. I want to make sure I am supporting the industry I came from. I also donate portions of sales whenever I can to what’s going on in the world, from Standing Rock to World AIDS Day to Hurricane Harvey to the Charlottesville NAACP to multiple LGBTQ charities.

Coming from such a macho industry like skateboarding, did you cop any slack when you started making candles? And if so, how did—or do—you deal with those reactions?
I actually didn’t. My friends always seemed a bit thrown at first, like “Candles? WTF!?” And I explain what I just told you above. And they get it. I get the occasional troll talking shit and gay bashing as if candles aren’t masculine, like you said. But someone like that is too pathetic to “deal with.” Nothing you can do or say is going to hurt them more than they are already hurting. I have a growing candle business I started with my own hands in my kitchen. Even if it fails I’m proud and having a blast. I have an amazing life surrounded by amazing people and the things I love. They can hate me all they want but they’re just mad ‘cuz their gal wants to buy my candles. No, but really, it’s been all love and support.

Rob Brink

How did the Kenny Anderson x Converse x Chocolate collab candle come about?
I’d been bugging Kenny for a Poler connect because they have a really cool store in Laguna Beach where I live and I wanted to pitch the candles to them. He circled back a while later talking about how his new shoe is coming out and he wanted to have something cool and unique for the gift bags at the launch party. I jumped right on it. Then we agreed to make ‘em available on my site for people who might want access to it as part of his capsule. It’s not an “official” collab with Chocolate and Converse. Like, those two brands aren’t selling it to shops as part of the collab. I don’t want to mislead anyone. But shops can order from me or people can buy them on the TheHundredthAcre.com until they sell out. But it’s just kinda something he allowed me to piggyback on and it’s been super cool I am so appreciative. Kenny is an amazing person for skateboarding, both on and off the board.

Was there any specific thought given to the scent of that candle?
I went to Kenny’s place one day with dozens of fragrances for him to try. Since the theme of his capsule is “plant, grow, pollinate” he wanted it to be sort of “gardening/herbal” themed but not necessarily like fruits and vegetables or produce. So he landed on lavender and citrus blend and a sage leaf blend in glass that matches the white and black colorways of the shoes, and we’ve got the logo on there to match the deck and shoes too.

What if you were to do “pro model” candles where skaters have custom scented candles? Who would you want to make one for and what would the scent be?
If I answer that, it’ll get ripped off so fast. But there are some really good ones that can be done.

The Hundredth Acre candles

Do you sell many candles to skaters? I mean surely they can appreciate some of their uses—seduction tool in the bedroom, bad smell camouflage in the toilet…
Haha, yes. More people are into candles than you think. It’s just not something people in our world run around talking about. Lots of pros and industry people hit me up for them or buy them. Especially for their wives and girlfriends. They’ve all been so supportive. But also, I have plenty of skate customers to my web store and to my retailers and at my pop ups. It’s awesome to be able to connect with skaters over my own brand, even if it’s not a skate brand. And it’s awesome to turn people onto quality candles and maybe introduce them to something they wouldn’t have been exposed to yet. You know? Not that people don’t know what a candle is, but letting them know that it’s simply a nice thing to treat yourself to or helping them understand the value of a luxury, all natural candle as opposed to a cheap toxic one from Target.

What’s the story behind the name, “The Hundredth Acre”?
It’s inspired by Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood—the forest where the characters all played and interacted. And it was an interaction between humans and nature. All different types of friends having fun adventures, creating memories. It’s the type of place you wish you could be in when you are reading or watching Pooh. It just gives you that special feeling. I think we all have a special place like that from some past time in our lives that we reminisce fondly of, or wish we could get back to. For me, it’s the forest behind my grandma’s place in New Jersey. I grew up exploring and playing there. Reading books and observing plants and trees and making forts and learning things and using my imagination. I could sit there for hours on soft beds of fallen leaves and pine needles. With birds and squirrels and insects doing their thing all around me. Smelling all the different smells. Eating wild blueberries. Just existing with nature and feeling safe and feeling that awesome energy you know? When I was about 17 that forest got torn down and made into housing. I was devastated. Some of these things, we can never get back, but we all think about them. We all have our own version of that forest, our own Hundred Acre Wood. I also liked the idea of the notion that “The Hundredth Acre” is the final acre, like you are at the border. Do you want to leave and go back to the real world or do you want to stay in that special place full of imagination and creativity with your friends? My logo almost ended up being a really old school hand made wooden fence to represent that notion, but I went with the spruce tree instead.

The Hundredth Acre candles

I’m a huge fan of your writings about skateboarding but my favourite pieces I’ve read from you are the ones you wrote about your late dad. When you’re in the skate industry it’s refreshing to see that sort of raw honesty and emotion. Do you often write personal narratives and if so have they or will they be published?
Thank you. If someone doesn’t write with raw emotion they might as well not bother. In my opinion, with creative writing (or films or music or any art), the goal is to create a visceral experience that leaves the reader sitting there like they got kicked in the chest … entertained of course, but breathless with their brain spinning out of control. That’s how I feel when I watch a good movie or read a good book. I can’t sleep after. I’m all fucked up from it. I’m inspired and want to create. Stuff like that doesn’t come from anything but raw truth and emotion. You can’t connect with an audience by being vanilla and fake.

Funny you should ask though. I’m finally doing more of that writing now because I’m back in grad school for another master’s and much of what I’m working on revolves around the loss of my father and the years leading up to it that I spent working at a bagel shop, which kind of became my second (or maybe even surrogate) family. So we’ll see where that goes.

What’s next for you? Are you working on anything exciting at the moment that you can tell us about?
I think a book might come out of what I just mentioned. I don’t know when but it seems like it could be a possibility. Which is really cool. I like to just let things happen so if it does, so be it. If not, I’ll be busy with other stuff.

Time permitting, I really want to start up a podcast or show to pick up where Buzz left off. But it would be just me so I can create my own vision a bit better, as opposed to a team effort with a lot of elements in the equation and some of the limitations that come with working for a larger media entity.

And of course, the candles. I would be blown away and the luckiest person ever if The Hundredth Acre got to a place where it could support me and it was my only job. It’s got a long way to go but I’m enjoying the ride.

Well I look forward to all of those things. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us Rob, and for everything you’ve done for skateboarding.

This interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 16 that shipped with the Halloween KrakBox. Want to get your hands on a copy of the next printed KrakMag? Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!

Sk8ology deck display
Interview

Founders Interview: Mark Schmid of Sk8ology

First things first: who are you and what’s your history in skateboarding that led you to creating skate products?
My name is Mark Schmid, aka Schmiddy, and I’ve been in the sk8 game since the 1970’s. My love for skateboarding started on clay wheels and only got stronger as wheels turned to urethane, and then precision bearings replaced the old loose style bearings so even the crappy surfaces we were used to riding instantly felt like we were riding on clouds. Our only connectivity was through SkateBoarder Magazine… VHS tapes were still 10 years away so the only way we learned new tricks was by seeing pro’s at demo’s or contests or trying to figure out how a trick was done by deciphering a 3-picture photo sequence in the magazine. My first sponsor was G&S (Gordon & Smith). I was 13 years old and in the team van with some of the best skaters in the world doing demo’s, contests, autograph signings, etc… once a month I’d get to go to the factory and load up on product. I felt like that kid in the movie “Almost Famous”… except it was just the positive parts! Anyway, after my skate career ended (I simply didn’t have the timing, patience, or pain tolerance to learn the latest tricks… Thanks a lot “H-Street: Shackle me Not”) I started designing and manufacturing skateboard products. We now work with every major deck brand in the industry in making sure their HQ’s are museums of modern art celebrating the art of skateboards.

G&S skate team

Mark Schmid (small kid on the roof) with the G&S team

What was the graphic on the first board you skated?
Back in the days before specific art or an artist really became attached to a brand or pro, we just had our sponsors stickers on our boards. My first art graphic deck was a G&S Billy Ruff Chalice deck in 1983… the artist was Miq Willmot.

You created the Sk8ology deck display to honor the history, creativity and lifestyle of skateboarding and so that people can exhibit skateboards in style. How big a role do you think art plays in skateboarding?
It’s strange because who would have ever thought that a skateboard deck would become an art medium? Check out TheSkateRoom.com and you know that the world’s biggest artists want to be front and center on the walls of folks that love skate culture. Any person that calls themselves a skater will realize at some point in the future that the period of their lives spent skateboarding was a really great part of their life. Your favorite brand or pro most likely has an association with an artist or artists that represents a time and attitude of what you were into… as the years stack up, so do your responsibilities. When I stare at one of my favorite company’s decks on the wall that brings me back to that time when my only responsibility was to go sk8 with my friends…

Sk8ology deck display

Rob Dyrdek with his Sk8ology deck display at the Fantasy Factory

What was the process like for creating this product? What are the important things to consider to make a board hang just right?
It started with a shitty shoe lace, moved to fishing string, and a couple of screws… it looked crappy and didn’t respect how much I loved my skateboard deck collection. I started experimenting with acrylic sheets and bolt’s so my deck collection could “float” off the wall without seeing any visible hardware. My original racks were HUGE! They weighed a pound and a half each, were super bulky, and shipping them was as expensive as making them. Once we figured out that the “float” was the coolest aesthetic, we then needed to figure out how to make it affordable – that meant making it as small as possible, but still functional. As far as hanging decks just right, the most important factors are making sure a deck or group of decks is centered, equally spaced apart, and lit well. If you’re hanging a bunch of weird shaped decks then you’re gonna want to make sure all the noses of the decks are in a straight line.  One of my favorite things to do is go to the thrift store and buy a 2’x3’ frame which will hold 2 standard decks perfectly and should cost around $4 bucks… the more ornate the better – you can always paint it to match or contrast with the decks/matboard.

Sk8ology deck display

Paul Kobriger with the Sk8ology deck display at Transworld

Who is your favorite skate artist and why?
There are soooooo many! In the 80s it was Jim Phillips, in the 90s, Marc McKee. These days my favorites are Shepard Fairey, Don Pendleton, NeckFace, and Ed Templeton.

Do you have an all time favorite board graphic?
Nope. There are just too many.

This interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 17 that shipped with the Xmas KrakBox. Want to get your hands on a copy of the next printed KrakMag? Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!