I feel like I’ve heard this saying, “for skaters, by skaters,” in the same or similar words for years. I have to ask you–do you know who designed your skateboard? Did they draw the lines? Did they develop the mold? Do you know their name? Have you seen them skate? Most brands will tell you the board was designed by skaters, for skaters. This is a pretty cliché phrase nowadays, and some consumers will take it as gospel if it’s said, because a fancy website gives some level of perceived credence, or there are a bunch of Amazon reviews on a product or something. And people just want to believe in something! And some people will be naturally a little more critical, because maybe they’re involved in the scene at a core level or even in the business, they know who’s out there skating regularly, and they know who’s actually connecting to the skating and can see it reflected in the product. How many brand owners do you know, and have you skated with them or even ever seen them skating?
This is important to me, and it should be to you, too. For at least a couple reasons. First, skaters know what features are important and skaters don’t settle for mediocrity. Most people don’t settle, really. But mediocrity starts where experience and knowledge stop. So almost everybody out there who is making skateboards is going to their best job. Some people are just going to be able to appreciate nuance and feel in a different way than others, and that might result in a board being “done” before someone more invested in the ride experience would say it is, or a brand owner might refuse to make a new mold for a higher performance product and force a brand’s designer to work within an existing mold, limiting a final design.
Some people are going to understand the nuance of marketing better than others, too! This is just the nature of expertise, and it comes through experience and passion. You can be an experienced skater, or an experienced designer, or an experienced communicator and marketer. And if you’re passionate and you work for it, maybe you can be all three. But it doesn’t just happen because you say it is so.
The other reason it’s important to have a skater design your product is because skateboarding is a sort of a religion, in a way. And you want the church that you attend to be run by believers, don’t you? You certainly want it to feel genuine, but is it equally important that is is genuine? For me, the answer is yes, and it has always been yes when it comes to just about everything. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve seen behind the looking glass. I’ve been a part of things that didn’t feel true to me before–true to even the truth–and none of it stuck. You move on, and you peel away the layers until you are stuck with only the real, if you’re into that sort of thing I guess. And I’m still here. I know Pantheon is true to itself and its purpose, because it’s mine and I control it.
I’m not out here to sling mud at other companies. I do want you to ask yourself something, though, when you’re looking at companies to support. Who is it that you’re supporting and what are you putting your stamp of approval on? Truthfully, I am super stoked by a lot of what I see out there. There are more good brands than ever, actually, partially because there are more brands than ever, but also because the core market especially is supporting skater-owned brands more than ever.
The ability to find the capacity to produce quality product is higher than it’s ever been. Some find the keys, start the engine, and if they’re really trained for it through passion and experience, can make something beautiful. And then some find the keys, start the engine, and then put a Made In the USA sticker on it after it arrives from across the ocean. It’s not that it’s wrong to have other people make your product. I mean, we’ve been down the road of making our own product and we decided against it, through experience, because it was hurting our family. It’s your job to figure out what it is that you believe in, I guess. And then to use those beliefs to apply to the things you do. Most of all I believe in Truth. If you’ve got questions, ask, and I’ll give you my best.
This blog came as a result of just getting tired of seeing lies in marketing. Like blatant ones. If you do something, stand behind it. If you can’t stand behind it, don’t do it. I hope this doesn’t come off as elitist, because it isn’t. The act of critique is why people have invented new and better things throughout time. Nobody would’ve created fire if they didn’t first realize they were cold.
Big thanks for all the support. I am definitely asking for that to continue, through skating, spreading the good word, and slangin your truth.
Owner, Pantheon Longboards
Son, Husband and Father
Skateboard Marathon Co-World Record Holder