by: Michael Bayr
WHY DID YOU ORIGINALLY START STREET ARTIST?
I started Street Artist because I was on tour with a van full of skaters who were tired of the way skating was being portrayed, tired of the way they were being treated. Basically tired of the shit being put out. So since I couldn’t put them all on Vibralux we started to put together a sister company for Vibralux, one that could be everything Vibralux couldn’t be. Bizarro World Vibralux is what we should have called it. I wanted to work with Shane Coburn and pick his brain as best I could about WHY wheels fail, why companies go stagnant, why he could no longer support his team/ company the way he wanted to in a dying culture despite being wildly successful on the surface. We set out to avoid the pitfalls of most startup wheel companies and come out full force with great wheels, a great image, and of course a great team.
WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU’RE STILL ON THAT TRACK TODAY WITH STREET ARTIST?
We are getting there. We lost a lot of financial liquidity right from the get go from an investment standpoint. Aragon was going to be a major financial block with myself and we had plans that revolved around an additional 20K. Things got messed up further when the release of the company came prematurely because some kid and photoshop were best friends. Next came the stretching cores. Next came delayed production, then more material issues… and the list goes on. Finally we are back on track, we aren’t where we need to be financially to do everything that is in our business plan, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
All the potholes that we knew were there, and set out to avoid, were for some reason or another, unavoidable.
A LOT OF RIDERS ARE NOW ROLLING WITH STREET ARTIST. WHO ALL IS INVOLVED WITH THE TEAM?
We have a healthy team right now that’s for sure, my ledger reflects it: Don Bambrick, Mike Johnson, Billy O’Neill, Sean and Colin Kelso, Rachard Johnson all make up the pro team. Ams consist of Bfree and Michael Collins. Flow are Demetrius Watson and Nick LaBarre. International is Edwin Wieringh, Dan Ives, and Danny Jensen. Sucks because I feel like I am leaving someone out, fuck it. There is also a huge surprise out there, but that one is months away.
HOW HAS STREET ARTIST DEVELOPED FOR YOU?
Like I said earlier with the setback in finances and planning it has developed slower then I would have liked. However, we recently released our new site which has garnered us a lot of attention from outside sources that are reviewing our clothes and doing features in the coming months. We are also working with new artists and recording artists. This has been great from a cross-promotional standpoint. Lots of local people who didn’t know either company existed 6 months ago now jock our shit. We are shopping our goods to more local boutiques now as well and we have rights to all our music content.
WITH YOUR DISTRIBUTION COMPANY NOW DOING WHEELS AND JEANS, WHAT’S NEXT?
Continue quality control and promotion. I am really going to get back into the making of skate videos now that we have a distribution deal set up with Warren Croyle and the Warner Group as well as licensed music. Hopefully this opens up a lot of doors for our riders in terms of corporate sponsorship not only for the videos, but using the numbers generated by the sales of videos to get them corporate sponsorships as well. Why wouldn’t Redbull want to sponsor an athlete whose section was downloaded by 50,000 people on ITunes?
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO CHANGE WHEEL MANUFACTURERS FOR THE NEW WHEELS?
We didn’t start Street Artist to turn cheap tricks, we wanted to develop great wheels. Unfortunately when we started working with Bravo they stopped using their site in Italy and moved production to Asia for ALL their aggressive wheels and quality control became an issue. Working with AEND I can hop on a plane and travel to the LBC area if there are quality issues and discuss them face to face with Tony Gabrielle the head of production at AEND. Also the lead time on wheels is 6 weeks and we don’t need to wait for them to come from Asia on a freighter.
STAR’s LAST RELEASE HAD PRO WHEELS FOR DON BAMBRICK; THAT WAS QUITE A STATEMENT, WHAT’S NEXT?
We have Colin Kelso, Rachard Johnson, and Billy O’Neill with releases this week, on deck is Mike Johnson, Sean Kelso, and Scooter Blader X.
YOU ARE ALWAYS VERY VOCAL ABOUT ROYALTIES FOR SKATERS AND HAVE BEEN A LOT WITH ROYALTIES FOR THE VX JEANS; WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THIS FOR STREET ARTIST?
Originally this is what we were doing with Street Artist, we were giving out additional royalties on the wheels. However, now that we upped the quality in urethane and had to lower our profit margin on the wheels the royalties for the riders and the designers suffer. However, they all rest assured knowing that higher quality wheels will enable us to have an ever growing fan base which means more sales, and eventually equal or greater royalties. With an ever evolving art direction (part of the reason it is called Street Artist) and quality products we will be able to reinvent our fashion and wheel design a million times over without having to be pidgeon holed as this or that.
STREET ARTIST HAS ALSO RELEASED A NUMBER OF FASHION ITEMS; WHERE DO YOU SEE THE DIRECTION OF STREE ARTIST IN TERMS OF FASHION?
With what we are doing now with artists and recording artists be on the lookout for a lot of exclusive artist series popping up on the bigcartel. As far as mainstream stuff I want to continue to look for great manufacturers that can deliver the highest quality apparel, same way we do it with Vibralux.