A DISCUSSION WITH JON JULIO ON HIS BEGINNINGS OF A NEW VENTURE AND WHAT LIES AHEAD
Jon Julio photographed at Young & Grumpy Studios in Brooklyn, NY in August of 2018.
Portrait by Ryan Loewy for Be-Mag.
Interview by Ryan Loewy
Photographs by Ryan Loewy & Brandon Smith.
With select images courtesy of Them Skates.
In the beginning of 2018, Jon Julio took the blade industry by surprise and announced the end of Valo. A company that lasted over a decade, with a legion of loyal customers and countless heralded products, it was as shock to hear a company of such high caliber go under. But it wasn’t long before Julio reappeared with a new venture, titled Them Skates. In the months since the company’s announcement, and with its initial release, the company has yielded a similar amount of support and love albeit some disgruntled opinions. With the 2018 Blading Cup approaching, and with his second run of skates about to released, we felt it fitting to sit down with Jon and talk shop.
I want to start with a basic question, one that I know you’ve been asked before and have explained, but for the sake I guess of having it in writing of some sorts, can you tell me a bit, and you don’t have to go into full detail here if you don’t want to, about the end of Valo and the beginnings of Them?
So Themgoods Distribution, which I know was way prior to Them, was that just your means of having a bit of control of things in the US?
Photograph by Brandon Smith.
Was there any sort of pivotal moment for you where you knew that the relationship with Roces wasn’t going to work anymore? Like, the straw the broke the camels back so to speak? Or did you just feel that, no matter what, this had to happen?
I can imagine, especially because I know you put your heart and soul into what you do. I think it is safe to assume that the relationship you had with Roces just was no longer conducive to what your own path was for your endeavors. So, you’re now almost a year into Them. How has the journey been for you? You’ve started off with a brand new team, a new product, new everything. How has it been navigating that course?
It’s been quite the rollercoaster. A constant learning experience, but everyday I’m thankful to be able to be in a situation where we are 100% independent. We are a small company. It’s just me working full time. Thankfully THEM is an amazing group of friends working together in a collaborative effort. This has helped us get through this first year. Also without the support from the industry , THEM could not exist. Shops, skaters family and friends globally. Overall it’s really been an amazing experience since the launch at Winterclash.
I really admire your commitment to your craft. It certainly shows with the efforts you’ve done. Like I really like how you have Robbie doing your video work… I feel like you have a real understanding of not only what you want out of your brand, but how to navigate it accordingly. So, you’ve just gotten in your second run of skates, if you don’t mind me asking, what is the next step for Them?
Next step for Them, well, new skates arrive this month, just in time for Blading Cup. So just been preparing for both of those. A crazy amount of work happening these weeks. We have a bunch of video content in the works, which we’ll be releasing by end of the year
Robbie Pitts, pictured above, not only rides for Them, but handles a majority of their video work. Portrait of Robbie shot at Young & Grumpy studios in Brooklyn, NY in August 2018 by Ryan Loewy for Be-Mag.
That sounds incredible. How do you manage between being a father, having a family, and running the company? It seems like a shit ton of work to keep up on.
I can only imagine trying to manage it all…
So, you’re working on video content for the rest of the year. Can I ask, in terms of product development, how far in advance to plan out your lines? And how have you gone about with gaining input and adjusting the products that you make?
Julio made immediate improvements for his second run of skates. As shown above, improvements to the soul plate hardware. Photographs courtesy of Them Skates.
It’s a intricate process with working with overseas manufacturers…
Do you have plans on refocusing on other projects, like the Youth Co? Or is Them your main priority for now?
Let me ask, because I don’t think I’ve covered this Q yet, but who’s currently on the team?
Marius Gaile, Alex Broskow, Sean Darst, Soichiro Kanashima, Robbie Pitts, Kruise Sapstein, and soon to be announcing..
Marius is amazing. He’s one of my favorites…
That said, how did you go about deciding who was on the team? I know you had mentioned that it was hard for you…
Portraits by Ryan Loewy for Be-Mag
Do you plan on continuing doing single VOD’s akin to Alex’s endeavor with Mike Torres? Or do you have a plan for a team video?
No VOD’s are planned, but we have a promo coming soon for Sean Darst filmed by Robbie. And a couple videos are in the works from various THEM riders. Excited for those…