Being Canadian, it always brings me great joy to see my fellow countryman succeed, not only at home, but far outside of Canada as well. So, when my longtime friend and Vancouverite, Torey Goodall told me that he was starting a new marketing gig in London at Palace Skateboards, I was thrilled for him to say the least.
Ask anyone who know’s him and they’ll tell you there’s a certain magic to Torey: to his skating, to his character, to the way he approaches life in general. It takes a certain kind of person to just pack up and leave their comfort zone time and time again. But it takes a very special type of person to be embraced wherever he or she goes.
Although Torey would tell you that the path he’s taken is no road map to success, I would say, telling stories like his is the exact reason this site exists. Read this one carefully.
When I first met you in Vancouver, which has to be 10 or more years ago now, you loved skating, had a number of sponsors, filmed video parts, but it never seemed like you were trying to pursue a career as a professional skateboarder or anything like that. It always seemed like you had other things on the go. Is that a fair description?
Yeah, I definitely never thought skating for a living was a possibility or something I’d even want to do, but I’ve always been a hopeless skate rat. I try to make sure I’ve got other things to focus on because I need to approach skateboarding on my own terms so I don’t get bummed on it. Anytime skating starts to intermingle with responsibilities or any aspects of life that you’re usually trying to escape from by going skating, it can confuse what makes it worth doing.
When you were living in Vancouver, how did you end up going to university? What did you take?
University was the furthest thing from my mind when I finished high school, but once I’d been out there for a few years working menial jobs, partying, and not even really skating because I’d fucked my knee up, I felt like I needed to switch it up. I ended up enrolling at the nearest community college and taking the pre-requisite courses to transfer to university. School was good for a while because it gave me the structure and discipline that I wasn’t really creating for myself, but I got kind of jaded about academics by the time I finished. I liked the learning environment, but you end up doing a lot of busy work and covering repetitive topics because they make you specialize if you want to leave with any kind of credential. I didn’t want to choose a major, so I ended up doing Geography because it’s quite broad. It’s funny because I went to school hoping it’d lead me to some completely different shit, but as soon as I completed my degree I was like “fuck this, I’m gonna go work in a warehouse and skate with my buds!”
You also went to school in Montreal and Copenhagen for a while. What brought you to those places?
I ended up going to university in Montreal because Quebec has better public funding for education. Tuition was half the price of everywhere else in Canada and they have good opportunities for bursaries. My school had this study abroad program that would pay for you to go to school overseas for a semester if your grades were good enough and the host school accepted you. I applied to go to Copenhagen because you can study in English and I’d heard it was a cool city. I got accepted and went there for 6 months. It was a bit disorienting moving there in the dead of winter not knowing anybody and not having any money, but it ended up being a precious time.
For as long as I can remember you’ve been friends with the Quartersnacks guys and a ton of people here in New York. How did that all start? How often were you coming to New York?
It’s mainly because of Pryce (Holmes). We’re just like bruddas and his Dad has lived in NY since he was quite young, so I’d come visit when he was staying with his Dad in Brooklyn. The first time I came was pre 9/11 and you could skate midtown without getting kicked out and shit like that. We’d be out skating out at night till the sun was coming out and it blew my tiny mind. We’d run into other kids while out skating and it just developed from there. Quartersnacks was 5050skateboarding.com when I met those guys. Ever since then I’d try to visit whenever I could. When I lived in Montreal I’d take the night bus to New York anytime I got the chance and ended up having a few magical summers out there.
Kickflip, Photo: Ashley
How did you end up in London?
It was just a funny series of coincidences. I was in New York being a pile and one day after a big night I was out by myself just cruising seeing who I might run into. The first couple people were Rob (Harris) and (Danny) Brady. Shortly after a few more English dudes showed up who seemed like they hadn’t been to sleep and right away I remember thinking “these guys are hilarious.” We went skating from there and had the best day just fucking around on some curbs. They were all there on vacation, so we had similar schedules and we ended up hanging out everyday doing some serious male bonding.
The night after I met those guys it was Halloween and we went to some party and I saw a girl in the S horty S hoodie and I just walked up to her and started making out. The next day I showed up to Tompkins and didn’t remember much from the previous night and some of my friends were asking me who the girl in the S horty S hoodie was. I barely even remembered doing it, but then my new English mates were like “she’s from London we know her, she’ll probably be with us tonight.” I saw her later on that night and felt weird because all I previously did was let her hold me up on the dancefloor while I was blacked out. We started talking and it turned into a full romcom style situation for the next few days.
After all that, they all suggested I come to London and I thought “fuck it, why not.” I applied for a Visa and moved there 3 months after that. Now it’s 3 and a half years later, the girl in the S horty S hoodie is my lovely wife, one of those dudes is Lev and he’s one of my best friends/employer, and Brady, Stuart, and Riza are all some of my closest friends.
Amazing. I remember having dinner with you in London a couple years ago and you were wondering what you were going to do next work wise. This was before Palace. You seemed undecided where you wanted to take your life. How did the Palace opportunity come up and what made you decide to take the job?
I worked at Supreme for a while upon moving to London and it was cool, but that’s such an established, well-functioning company that there wasn’t much room for me to be anything beyond a guy in the shop. I was pretty desperate to be somewhere with new challenges and room to maneuver.
The Palace gig evolved naturally because of my relationships with everyone involved. Lev was really good about making me feel apart of it as soon as I arrived. He hooked me up and took me on trips pretty much right away. Since the team is such a tight knit crew from way back they were a bit like “who the fuck is this guy” when I first showed up, but we all clicked shortly afterwards and that became who I kick it and skate with pretty much daily.
Palace is less of a brand than an outlet for a close group of friends, so everything that comes out is often just the realization of pipe dreams from the pub and shit like that. Lev and I had talked about me working for Palace long before it actually happened. Things had to progess to a certain level before I could actually get hired full time. When the time came, it was an easy decision and I was very stoked.
Front Crook Fakie, Photo: O’Meally
Do you have a title at Palace? What does the role entail?
As anyone who works for independent, small-scale brands knows, there isn’t much use for titles in these types of operations. I’ve never had a job description. There’s always a lot of shit that needs doing, so ever since I started I just try my best to pay attention to every facet of the business and make myself useful without having to ask “how can I help?” too much. I actually care about everyone involved. I just humbly treat it as though it were my own.
You’re skating in a lot of the videos the brand drops and going on the tours. You’re also traveling and handling the brand pop-up shops like the one here at Dover Street Market or the one in Milan. Is it difficult for you to balance skating and working for the brand?
I certainly work more than I skate. But Palace is one of the few things, aside from the actual activity, that gets me hyped on skating. So, I’d say it’s a perfect balance. Prior to knowing them, these were some of the few guys that I’d see a video of and get stoked. Since I’ve come to find out they’re all genuine good people it’s definitely motivating to be able to go skating with them and in turn try to help them out by making shit happen at work. I might only skate once or twice a week, but I’m just glad I still have fun doing it.
A few months back you guys opened your first retail store. Were you heavily involved in that process?
Yeah, that was probably the biggest project I’ve been heavily involved with that we’ve seen come to fruition. I was there pretty much every step of the way from location scouting, discussing the shop design, hiring the staff, sales projections, etc. I didn’t see many days off for a large chunk of this year, but it’s been rewarding to see it all come together and build off what we’ve got going on.
What’s been the response so far?
The response has been a trip. It was lined up around the block on opening day and has continued to be a handful ever since. It’s an entertaining mix of people that come through, but it’s a good vibe and we get a lot of encouragement to just keep doing what we do.
Heelflip, Photo: Ashley
When it comes to the collaborations, pop-up shops, videos, etc, where do the ideas come from?
As I was saying before, it’s communal the way ideas get thrown around, but Lev is definitely the one who usually comes up with the best ones, filters it all down and makes the final call.
I went to Southbank a couple years ago and every other person there was wearing Palace and/or skating a Palace board. It was easy to see the London skate community completely embraced the brand. You’re now also seeing celebrities like Drake, ASAP and Rihanna wearing the brand. What are your feelings on the brand being appreciated by a wider audience?
It’s all love to me, because none of what we do is with the consumer primarily in mind. There’s no marketing plot or brand strategy. We just like good skateboarding, hearing good music, wearing fly garms, and having a laugh. It just so happens that people can or want to identify with the vibrations that Palace puts out. Luckily, I think a lot of people genuinely appreciate the output. For instance, I noticed Drake’s people linked our last video on to some of their social media shit, so you get the idea they’re into what we do beyond putting triangles on shit. Even if someone’s mindlessly buying our shit, it’s just making it possible for dudes like Chewy to continue skating for a living, so it’s all bless.
I see Palace as a brand that really celebrates London skateboarding. Do you see a big difference between the skaters in London and back in Vancouver?
I’ve always seen London as a very distinct place in many ways. There’s lots of music, slang, fashion and so on that is ubiquitous here, but relatively unheard of in North America. I’m sure those days are soon to be over considering all the social media creepers. It’s funny because I got that video First Broadcast on VHS when I was a kid and it immediately turned me into a bit of a fanboy for UK skateboarding. I’m constantly blowing it at the pub, getting all pissed, telling whoever how much I like their part in the Landscape video from 15 years ago or whatever.
It’s been so long now that I’ve lived in Vancouver, so I can’t really speak on the scene, but I feel like it’s always in good hands as long as Antisocial is there.
50/50 Transfer, Photo: O’Meally
A major part of why I started this site was I wanted to help give people inspiration and advice on how to follow their passion and hopefully find a career that they love. A big part of your story is that you weren’t scared to travel a lot or move to a different country. Do you think being willing to travel, and try different things and move out of your comfort zone is important to being successful?
Yeah, I agree with you 100% about trying different things and moving out of your comfort zone, but I’d encourage people to do that regardless of their opportunities for travel. I think I’ve fallen victim to a general restlessness at times that had me just jumping from place to place to keep myself excited in one way or another, rather than focusing on any real personal growth. Oddly enough, I got super lucky and found somewhere to put roots down right when I was on the brink of spiraling a bit out of control. I would never relate my experiences as some path to success, because it wouldn’t make any sense and probably be super misleading for anyone else. I think people really need to be patient and look inward to know what’s best for them.
You’re one of the most genuine and good-hearted people I know. I think being a solid person and doing your best to be good to people has served you well, also.
Shit, thanks Ben, that’s very kind of you. Yeah, you gotta be good to others, man.
Not to oversimplify it, but if someone is reading your interview right now for inspiration, would the take-aways from your story be: find your passion, go to school if it interests you, travel, meet new people, get out of your comfort zone, don’t be scared to move somewhere new, be good to people, and work really hard?
I’d say focus on the first and the last two things you just mentioned and everything else will fall into place.