Dime: Phil Lavoie

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As more and more people find ways to make a living doing what they love, our past perceptions of what it means to work or have a career have been redefined. Phil Lavoie of Dime turned the jokes, videos and tee shirts he was making with his friends in Montreal into one of the most interesting brands in skateboarding today and his full time job. Although it wasn’t intended, it wasn’t by luck either. They put in the “work” to make it happen. 

Being a crew/brand from Canada, what do you think of the Red Dragons?
Shout out to anyone making a living out of skateboarding. Red Fucking Dragons. That Rob Sluggo part to the Backstreet Boys is an all time great.

About 2 years ago I was at the Agenda tradeshow in Vegas and a sales guy from a non-skate website approached me to run advertising with them. He had a Dime hat on, but had no idea it was made by a group of skateboarders from Montreal. Are you seeing the brand on more and more people outside of skating?
Yeah. I think that’s a good thing. You can’t keep control of who is wearing your tee shirts, so if people outside of skateboarding are down to support, that’s really chill. As long as the brand stays true to itself, it’s just a plus if someone who doesn’t know what a kickflip is wears it.

Who is the most random or surprising person you’ve seen wear Dime?
I recently saw a photo of Johnny Depp’s daughter wearing a hat, haha.

I feel like you must be getting a lot of skaters in trouble with their sponsors. I see Dime on skateboarders with other apparel sponsors everywhere.
Since the brand is based on our videos, we see it more like a video brand than a clothing brand. To us, the clothing is an extension of the videos and not the opposite.

PhilLav - HippieJump2Photo: Ethier-Myette

When did you drop the first video?
2009. I was at a point in my life where I had to choose between staying in school or chilling hard. I decided to chill.

But you are spending a lot of time on Dime. How many hours a day are you working on the brand? Do you consider it work?
I mainly just go out and skate with the homies and try to come up with funny shit. It’s pretty difficult to consider it work, but a lot of hours go into what we make. From the moment I wake up, until I go to bed, I’m pretty much constantly thinking about ideas for Dime. I used to do it in my off time from the restaurant just for fun, and now I do the same, just without having to serve customers. If even listening to music is considered work because you’re researching some tracks that you could potentially use, I guess I’m ‘’working’’ my ass off.

I remember you telling me that the Dime videos would be people’s leftovers after they gave their best stuff to other videos.
That’s how it all started, way before the first Dimestore video. At first, we didn’t have the ‘’good skate clips’’ since our website was just starting and it was just for jokes. We just made edits to make each other laugh with the ‘’shit footage’’. The ‘’shit footage’’ eventually became more important to us, as we liked to focus less on the trick itself and more on what was going on around it.

What was the first product you got made? Tees?
Yeah, we started with about 100 tee shirts at a print shop around here (Montreal). Those were pretty much just for the homies. Then we made another batch a few years later and that’s when “Dimestore crew” became Dime.

Why did you change the name?
We were always saying Dime as a short for Dimestore. People thought we were a skate shop when we were using that name. We didn’t care at first, but when the time came to sell it to stores, it would’ve been confusing for them to sell product that seems like it’s from another store.

I really like the product. Clean, simple. Who designs it?
The product we make is really a group effort. Everyone adds a little to it. Tee shirt graphics are usually the hardest to come up with, so it’s never just one dude that thinks of all of em. At first we were thinking of “how to make a bunch of dirtbags still look clean in their dirty clothes?” So, we made a couple tee shirts based on that idea, but really we just make what we would want to wear.

Did you start with online sales or getting the product in shops? What was the reaction to the brand when you first started talking to shops?
We started online, and then we hit up our homies that worked at stores. Eventually we tried reaching out to other shops and they were like “what the fuck is this shit?”


When did it start to catch on and shops started to reach out to you to carry it?
I’m not really sure. But I guess most people found out about it through our online content.

When it comes to content and marketing the brand, do you do any traditional things like print?
It’s mainly social media, skate videos, and partnering up with brands we respect. Like the contest we did with Vans (The Dime Glory Challenge) or the board we released with Alltimers. We’re open to anything as long as we have a good idea for it.

You said you quit your job at the restaurant. So Dime is your full time job? What is your role?
Yeah. I take care of all the social media and anything that promotes the brand, like commercials, skate videos, etc. I pretty much Snapchat and chill all day, film for the actual video and work on whatever gear, accessories, or anything we put out.

Who else is involved with the day-to-day business of running the brand?
Antoine (Asselin), he’s the dude out of all of us who’s mad on point and takes care of the company stuff. Vince (Tsang) works on the gear and the aesthetic of the brand in general. Charles (Rivard) always comes through and helps with graphics, and Guillaume (Thibault) takes care of the sales.

Is it a conscious decision to keep the product limited, so it doesn’t get blown out
We are still learning and taking it slow, which coincidently results in more limited product. We’ll see where it goes, but right now we’re taking it step by step.

The whole vibe of Dime is a group of friends having fun and not taking themselves too seriously. You can see it’s something that is resonating with skateboarders everywhere. But how do you stay true to the DNA of the brand and having fun, while balancing the business side of running a brand?
As long as everyone does what they have to do, everything should go smoothly. Even if there was no brand, the same group of friends would still be skating and not taking themselves seriously, and that’s what Dime is about. Having a brand just allows us to be around each other more often.

philPhoto: Tsang

So you’ve basically turned having fun with your friends not only into a brand, but also your job.
Haha, pretty much yeah! The best part is that it wasn’t really intended for it to become a brand or job, it kind of just happened.

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