Despite what the public is shown, professional skateboarding isn’t all oversized paychecks, Hollywood parties and reality TV shows. For every professional skateboarder who is winning contests, signing energy drink sponsors and getting TV time, there are 10 others who can barely afford to pay rent and have to work shitty day jobs despite their “professional” status. Pressure flips and politics aside, Nate Sherwood is one of those professionals.
Once he got offered a chance to make some money off a signature shoe with Airspeed footwear, he took it, finally hoping for the promise of a solid paycheck. Turns out, Airspeed is the last shoe company you want to do business with. A combination of crooked business practices and Nate’s gullibility left him with no paycheck, no royalties, and no job.
What’s the deal with Airspeed and your shoe?
52,000 pairs of my shoe are floating around Wallmarts, and I’m not getting any payment, any royalties at all. No matter how many sell or how little sell. I just want it to be known, that Airspeed is another shady entity that shouldn’t be in skateboarding, doesn’t have any respect for skateboarding and doesn’t respect people at all.
Why doesn’t anyone know about this?
No one wants to touch it. I feel like it’s a scarlet letter, no one wants to fuck with it. No skate websites, no links, no one will run anything on it. My friend at Transworld was going to do a whole article on it, but he couldn’t make it happen. I understood, I know someone else said no, because they didn’t want to risk losing their advertising dollars. I respect that.
What were you supposed to get paid?
They agreed to pay me $2000 a month, for the first run on the shoes, because they “weren’t really sure” how the first 52,000 shoes are gonna work. As long as the shoes in Wallmart, they agreed to pay me $2000 a month. But that $2000 includes riding for them, promoting them and I also was hired to edit videos for their website.
So $2000 a month to ride, support, promote, edit daily videos for Airspeed including all signature shoe royalties?
So why did they take away your pay?
Two months after my shoes out, the Airspeed CEO Jason calls me in for a meeting. He tells me that he’s gonna cut my paycheck to $500 a month, the companies losing money, going bankrupt. I bought it, I told him I’ll go find other work. I had to go work at UPS, flip tacos, and do all types of weird shit, you name it, I did it just to pay the bills. So from $2000 a month to $500 a month, with all the same responsibilities, editing video everyday, promoting airspeed, skating…
But then it started to get fishy. First of all, Airspeed moved from a tiny office into a giant warehouse, and then paid to build a huge mini ramp in the warehouse that cost around $7000. That doesn’t seem like something a company that is going out of business would do. Then the CEO goes out and buys an S-Class Mercedes Benz. The dude after telling all of us he can’t afford to pay us a living wage, barely enough for us to eat, goes out and buys a $100,000 fucking car.
So you are at least making $500 a month?
Nope. Right after he cut my check from $2000 to $500, I did an interview on Shredordie.com, a free lunch interview. They asked me why I am working in some taco store cutting raw meat when I have a shoe in Wallmart. I told them honestly, I only made $500 dollars a month off my shoe, and and told kids to be careful with contracts.
The Airspeed CEO Jason catches wind of the interview, and he’s furious. Before I could even talk to him, I was fired. So I was like, they better give me a severance, or take my shoes off the shelves of Wallmart or something. But then they start sending me emails saying they can’t give me any pay at all, because they had to cut down the prices of my shoes from $26.00 a pair to $8.00 a pair.
I’m in Iowa at the time, and I go to the local Wallmart and guess what, I find Nate Sherwoods for $26.00 dollars a pair, not $8.00. I bought them, saved the receipt and emailed it to him. He got even more furious and started lying about what he said. I have not made a penny off those shoes since March, and they are still out there and still being sold. My name is on them, my face is promoting them, they are named after me…..
Do you feel stupid about being honest in the interview looking back?
Absolutely. At the time I didn’t see it. In that interview, I said the truth and shot myself in the foot. I was never taught to lie as a kid. I should have just bs’d like other people in the industry would, just to protect themselves, so they wouldn’t lose their minuscule paycheck.
What types of things was Jason, the CEO saying after the Shred or Die interview?
You’re a piece of shit, you’re a mediocre skater. All this kinda immature shit. This coming from a part owner of a company. He was pissed that I exposed the truth. He knows now that legitimate riders will not ride for them. Everyone knows that, don’t piss off your riders. Airspeed doesn’t get it because they don’t skate so, they didn’t realize that every skateboarder knows each other, it’s a small world, a small pond.
Why didn’t you sign a contract? Can’t you take them to court?
In the beginning I tried and they said, oh its too much paperwork, it’s a pain. We don’t have to do it.
What will you do to get the money you deserve
I’ll do nefarious campaigns. I will bag on them every chance I get in every form of media I can. I’ll silkscreen shirts boycotting them, I’ll do whatever dude.
I posted a video of me burning a pair of Airspeeds on Facebook, next thing I know, all these other kids starting burning their Airspeeds too, it was pretty funny. One kid made a video, that was creepy, like scary in a basement and he burned them and started giggling. Another guy lit them on fire and juggled them with kitchen mits on and then threw them into a river. It was funny. Those were just some of the videos. I got a ton of pictures too. I know that must have pissed Airspeed off. That would have never happened if they paid me.
If the CEO of Airspeed or anyone that works there was reading this, what would you want to say to them?
I hope they burn in hell.
Original Illustration: Lauren Kolesinskas
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