You were just on a big trip. Where did you go?
We went to Berlin for a bit and then flew to Paris. It was the sickest trip I’ve ever been on, first time I ever went to Europe. I was with Kevin Tierney, Vega, Nick Ferro, Mcfeely, Brenden Carroll, Phil Rod, and HARDBODY CEO, Emilio Culian. Zoo York helped us get out there and are also helping us get out to Barcelona in the winter, so we’ll probably get some Euro type clip up and going. Shout out to Alex from Civilist who showed us a great time and bought us all negroni’s. Also, shout out to Juan Saavedra for showing us around Paris and putting us onto the best chicken tikka in France. Oh and major shout out to the dude that sold Brenden coke for 40 euros and it ended up being a bag full of rolling papers.
You’re born and raised in Queens, NY, right?
Your group of friends that you skated and filmed with went from Flipmode to Stick Up Kids to Bronze. Who have you been skating and filming with the longest?
Out of the OG crew I’d say I’ve been filming with Kevin for the longest, about 13 years now. If Derick Z decides to pick up the board again and start filming than it’d be him, but nooooo Derick would rather buy a house and get married and have a quarter of a million dollars saved in the bank. Fuck you, Derick!
When did Flipmode become Bronze? Why did you change the name?
Flipmode became Bronze in September 2011. I kind of hated that “Flipmode” was the name that stuck with the crew. It’s fucking Busta Ryhmes’ crew! Can’t believe it stuck for as long as it did. I guess it didn’t help that we had a website called flipmodeskate.com. Flipmode wasn’t really a brand though, it was just the name of the crew. Bronze was more of a brand name, and it kind of combined the Flipmode crew with JP Blair’s crew.
How did you meet Pat Murray? What made you guys decide to start working on Bronze as a brand with product, opposed to just making videos?
I met Pat in my backyard when I was 6 years old, he lived on the same block as me. Kid was riding training wheels when I was already on a two wheeler. Pat always wanted to start a board company that centered around the videos I was making. He almost started “Sognar Skateboards” in 2009 which would of been Shawn Powers, Billy Mcfeely and Derick Z, but than had a vision that the company should be called “Caviar”. So Caviar Skateboards almost started, but I think he just couldn’t come up with any sort of image or board graphics so the idea just kind of fell through. Also, at the time, none of us really had jobs or money to start a board company which is a pretty big investment if you want to do it right. In late 2011 it seemed like having a social media presence was enough to be considered an actual company. “You got product? No, but yo we got a Facebook page.” And that’s kind of how Bronze started. A fake company that seemed real because of the internet. We didn’t really have any intention on making real product until we saw the demand on the internet. We would post photoshopped shit on Instagram and kids would comment like “Yo, I would buy this shirt!”, it kind of made us think like “wow, maybe we could actually make something out of this”. One day Pontus Alv had emailed us saying he saw a lot of potential in the brand. That kind of pushed me into really wanting to step it up.
Really? That’s rad.
Yeah, he hit us up saying that he was a big fan of the brand and saw a lot of potential in it. I grew up being a big fan of Strongest of the Strange and In Search of the Miraculous, so hearing that from him really got me hyped. Pontus taught me a lot of how to go about dealing with production. How to make a proper PDF catalogue, sourcing clothing, and getting line sheets out to shops and all that stuff.
Are you and Pat the only two owners?
Yeah, it’s me and Pat at the moment.
Do you have different roles in the company?
We all wear different hats. I mostly do the videos, email shops and deal with sales and production. Pat will come up with shirt designs, do Instagram stuff, work on the overall aesthetic, whether it be finding clips on Youtube or songs to use. We have help too. JP and Paul Young will help out with footage. Dudes will come to the Bronze warehouse and help pack orders and organize the space, clean up all the roaches off the floor.
Are you at a point where you have full time employees that help you out?
No employees at the moment, but I think that’s going to have to change. It’s gotten too big for just Pat and I to handle.
What were you doing before you worked on Bronze full time?
I was in school and also working at an insurance agency doing their social media. A very unfulfilling job, since no one follows their insurance agent on Instagram. Good thing this Bronze thing worked out. I didn’t know what the hell to do with my life
Biggest difficulties in running the company so far? Any cease and desists yet?
Yeah, so far we’ve only gotten one cease and desist which blows my mind. Everyday I check the mail with a ton on anxiety thinking “today’s the day we get sued”, but so far so good. I’d say the biggest difficulty in running a company is not getting lost in a very over saturated market. Everyone has their own company, their own line of clothing, their own skate video that they’re working on. How can you make something timeless and memorable when there is so much coming out at once?
That’s a good question. With things being so over saturated, how do you differentiate Bronze? How do you keep it unique?
Keeping it unique has been a lot harder these days. Not saying that I invented this kind of style of editing, but when Bronze came out, I feel like no one else was really doing videos like that. Now you see a lot of other videos editing in the same sort of style, which is great that it has had an influence on other people. But it also makes it harder on me to keep it from being washed out and corny. Like how many times am I gonna splice in a clip of Michael Jordan, how many more times can I make some ’90s reference or internet joke before it gets played out. That’s kinda what “Plug” was, an experiment to see if Bronze could do something different. Some kids freaked out that it didn’t fit the “aesthetic”, but I needed a change.
I remember you telling me that the demand for Bronze product trips you out sometimes. Like you’ll drop new product and get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of orders in the first hour. When did it get to this point?
The orders gradually got bigger as time went on and more and more people started discovering the videos. I think after we dropped a collab with Palace it kind of put us in another category. I’ll check the Bronze hashtag and see a lot of non-skaters wearing it, or I’ll see people who will buy Bronze product just so they can resell it. That really trips me out when I see a Bronze shirt sell for more than what we charge for it. But than I also get kind of bummed when I see someone trying to sell a Bronze shirt for $300. Like no ones going to buy a Bronze tee for $300, so this guy just bought a shirt that he’s not even gonna be able to resell and it’s just gonna be sitting in his closet when some kid out there would of probably worn it if he had the chance to buy it when it was $35.
Who handles customer service? I know some kids can be savage if their tee shirt doesn’t show up on time.
I guess I handle the customer service, if you can call it that. For the most part a lot of kids are very understanding. They know we are a small company and don’t have a huge team dealing with shipping out orders. But than sometimes you’ll get kids who think we’re amazon.com and will start freaking out if they dont get a shipping confirmation email within 5 minutes.
How do you go about selecting what stores carry Bronze?
I do a little research. I’ll take a look at their website, if they’re selling a lot of brands that I respect or just seem like a cool shop in general than I’ll sell to them. If they’re selling a bunch of street wear brands than I’m not really down for it. Also I just kind of like to keep the shop count low for the moment. Don’t really want to make it too available. I think the last run of product we did was in 60 shops, which is the most we’ve ever done.
Do you have a good relationship with the shops? Is it you that’s actually talking to them?
Luckily I’m in a position where I don’t really have to go out and look for shops. Shops usually email me about wanting to stock the product. I like to have a good relationship with the shops of course. I respect anyone who still manages to run a skateshop in this day and age.
Do you work with a number of international distributors?
We don’t have any distributors, besides Marty at Flippin Goods who gets stuff out to shops in Sweden. Not really looking for distributors at the moment.
Marty is the man. Why don’t you want to work with more international distros?
Just don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen I guess.
Bronze is available mostly in skate shops, but also some high end boutiques and Dover Street. Is it important to you to be in stores like that? To open new people up to skateboarding and skateboard brands?
I think it helps a lot. Especially in this day and age where skateboarding is becoming more focused on fashion. Or maybe it’s fashion that’s becoming more focused on skateboarding. In the end, Bronze is still a skateboarding brand so it’s kinda cool to see people outside of skating who like the clothing. But it is also funny seeing some of these video reviews from these fashion kids on YouTube, talking about Bronze like it’s some high end Chanel type shit.
Are you still actively filming?
When I go on trips, I’m actively filming, but on an average day in New York I’m usually not filming too much. Maybe on the weekends. A lot of the dudes in the crew have other stuff they need to film for and I usually won’t film anything unless I’ll be able to use it. But I’ve always had help from filmers going out and getting footage. I’m more focused on the editing and piecing the video together.
What other filmers have contributed the most to your videos?
JP Blair and Paul Young. There are definitely a bunch of others who have helped me a lot in the past with footage like Connor Peterson, Ryan Garshell, Tombo, Josh Stewart, Matt Velez.
A number of years ago I remember there was a video on the Stick Up Kids NY site where you guys were watching Travis Stenger’s part from the Modern Love video. How did you find out about that video?
Yeah, that was in the infamous Billy Lynch/Josh Velez “How We Livin” clip. Recently Billy just uploaded it on YouTube, I was so hyped, I hadn’t seen that clip in years. I found out about the video cause of Billy, he was obsessed with Travis Stenger’s style and Wu Tang at the time. Modern Love was dope, but what really stood out to me was “Supper’s Ready” which was a video made by the same dude (Ryan McGuigan). Supper’s Ready definitely changed the way I look at skate videos. Wish I had that video on DVD.
What is your process for finding new ideas and content for your videos?
Not much of a process, just drink a bunch of coffee and go on Youtube. Somedays I’ll find something that is funny and works. Somedays I spend the whole day working on something that I end up scraping in the end cause it just doesn’t fit.
Who hits you up the most to film?
That question would of made sense a couple years ago, now I think it’s “Who hits you up the most to drink?” And I’d probably say it’s Brenden and Gonyon. Who coincidentally are the same people who hit me up the most to film.
What made you decide to start Jamaica?
We wanted to start a board company, but didn’t want to transform Bronze into a board company.
Any advice to someone that wants to start a company?
Don’t do it. I’m not even kidding. There’s enough skate companies out here. Just work a job you hate, it’s not that bad, the minimum wage is gonna be $15 in no time.
Have you ever sent product to anyone that doesn’t skate for marketing?
Not really. ThouxanbandFauni hit us up for some stuff, so I was really hyped on that. Also this dude Kamil will promo some Bronze gear out to people he knows.
Who’d you like to see in a Bronze tee?
Wish Brandon Turner was wearing a Bronze tee when he switch Hardfliped Carlsbad in the Guilty video.