Let’s face it, if you have ever spent any significant amount of time on a skateboard, you have probably dreamt about working in the elusive “skateboard industry” at one point or another. So several months ago, we got in touch with a bunch of people that are doing their thing, and asked them for advice. You can check that all out in Part 1.
Thankfully, there was such a positive response that we had a chance to talk to a couple more industry heads and find out how they got started, what makes them tick, and if it’s really as amazing as everyone likes to believe it is.
1. STEVE BERRA, Co-Founder of The Berrics
To someone living in the middle of nowhere, what are ways they could get involved in the skate industry?
Good question. The world is so connected these days that it’s pretty easy to get an email or a Twitter or Facebook message to just about anyone. I think the biggest misconception is that if you try to get in touch with a company or person that they’re either too “famous” or “too busy” to respond. That is not true. Will they respond is a different thing altogether. It all depends on the strength of your communication to them. What is it you’re good at? What is that you want to do? Those are super key questions you have to be able to answer. If you want to be a filmer, do you have a camera? Do you know how to edit on Final Cut or Premiere? Do you even film or know what those things are? If you want to be a graphic designer do you know Photoshop or Illustrator? If the answer is no, which is the majority of the people who inquire, then it makes it very hard to get anywhere.
But no matter what your answer is, don’t let the fear of your message not being read prevent you from communicating. I get a lot of emails, but I read every single one and I reply to some when I can. I reply to ones that send links of their work or to the ones who have a lot of heart. At least I try to. It’s impossible to respond to every single one, but if you have something special, no matter what, it’s going to be discovered but only if you’re not afraid to communicate and only if you don’t give up.
What was one of the major obstacles you faced to get to get the Berrics or your career where it is now?
I’ll talk about the Berrics instead of my career as they are two different things. The economy is a huge challenge. There is only so much money in our industry and it is a very, very, very small industry. Skateboarding may mean everything to you and I and whoever is reading this but we are a small industry with a few examples of companies that have breached into the “real” world and sometimes give us the impression that we are bigger than what we are. There is a vast difference between the sales of Element and the sales of Expedition. The Berrics obstacles have been trying to get people to understand that things have changed, the world has changed, the skater and the consumer have changed. So… it was either we start it, Eric and I, or google does. And, here we are, almost 5 years later, and look at what we have. Four “action sports” channels with online skateboarding content that were given $5m to create content. Tony’s RIDEchannel, Network A, Redbull and Allisports. All making, in my opinion, subpar content that I don’t think helps the “industry” more than it’s helping youtube sell commercials for cars and insurance companies.
You probably get emails all the time from people asking or applying to work at the Berrics. But what is something that makes the better ones stand apart from the rest?
If they have samples of their work I will always watch. I may not always respond but I will always watch and forward on to the GM and the head filmer and they take it from there. Sometimes they feel it’s strong enough and sometimes they don’t. If so, they contact them, or I might contact them myself. It all depends on how much time I have. I’m from the midwest so I will do anything I can to help anyone out because so many people have helped me out through the years but there is only so much I can do. It makes it a lot easier if you’ve already taken initiative and have created something already for yourself that you can show me. That right there tells me you can take initiative on the job that I’m going to give you. If you want me to do everything for you and teach how it’s done, it’s going to be very tough for you to succeed. I can give you the opportunity, but I can’t make it happen for you, you have to make it happen for you.
What’s the worst part / any downsides about working in the industry?
We’re all squirrels fighting for the same nuts in the worst economy in 100 years and everyone has it tough right now. I don’t think people outside the industry understand that. I think a lot of these people who criticize the industry definitely don’t understand that. They see these pillars of the skateboarding world and they equate them to the pillars of other worlds that are much bigger than ours not knowing that some are one bad month from closing their doors. Skateboarding companies are skin and bones operations. Popularity does not mean wealth in this industry. You see where this is going?
2. CHASE WHITAKER, Director of Operations at Brick Harbor
To someone living in the middle of nowhere, how could they try and get involved in the skate industry?
Like Dale Doback says, “It’s all about who you know.” I guess the best way for people with no scene to try and get noticed is putting in hard work and utilizing the internet. Typically, you’d get a rep job from working at a shop, that’s the natural progression. I guess the best way to get an editorial job, whether it be photos or writing, would be to submit examples of your work to mags and blogs you think are rad. Perserverance is key. Get it if you want it.
Some people say the skateboard industry is like highschool. Would you agree or disagree?
Definitely – There’s nerds (most of us), jocks, cheerleaders, cool guys, dorks, teachers, substitute teachers (see Jersey Dave), bands, chess teams, gossip, rumors, school trips, newspaper committees, food fights, fist fights, school rivalries, photography class, punks, goths, rappers, Canadians, the foreign exchange, and detention (rolled ankles, broken wrists?)… Any part of high school you can remember can be assigned to a number of demographics or departments within skateboarding.
How did you get involved in the skateboard industry?
I worked at an amazing shop in NJ as a teenager, Premier Skateshop. A lot of skaters were coming out of Jersey at that time (see Eastern Exposure 3: Underachievers) and Premier carried all the east coast brands that have an amazing heritage and team lineage: Illuminati, Silverstar, Infamous, ADI, Wu Tang, Metropolitan, Zoo York, and way more. My best friend at the time had a VX and was working there too and filming all these awesome skateboarders. Bobby Puleo, Andrew Bautista, German Nieves, and so many more would always come through. Looking back it was an epic time in skateboarding but at that time they were just the barely older dudes who got boxes that we looked up to. We got to tag along for a few years until we were just part of the crew. I am super greatful to have to been involved with such a fundamental community at such an early age. Jersey in the mid-late 90’s was untouchable. That was how I got involved initially, definitely started as a shop kid and never left.
What are the most important things you look for / consider if you are looking to hire someone?
There’s a couple key things we look for. Only one is necessarily important, however a consistent level through all of them is needed besides the most important: Being a skateboarder. After that the rest can be taught/ learned. Follow through, consistency, team work, creative problem solving ability , being mathematically adept, and generally just being a decent human who can communicate efficiently are essentially what we look for. Being good at Facebook, good with the ladies and having good switch flips are typical characteristics that help as well. Sarcasm and being able to make fun of your best friends to their faces is always an added bonus.
3. DAVE CARNIE, Writer – The Skateboard Mag, King Shit, Big Brother. Senior Director Of Marketing- Supra Footwear
How did you get involved in the skateboard industry?
Is this a trick question? My mom always asks weird shit like that. Weird in that she already knows the answer. Like, “Hey mom, have you seen my tennis racket?” “Your tennis racket? What do you need that for?” “To fucking brush my teeth with, what the fuck do you think I need my tennis racket for, you stupid bitch?” I do not, nor have I ever, owned a tennis racket, but that’s the object that popped into my head. And those are the types of questions my mother used to ask me. She is not a stupid bitch, by the way. I just thought that sounded funny. Your question is very similar, though. Yet I’ll answer it: I got into the skateboard industry because I’m a skateboarder and I ride a skateboard. You probably want the long answer, though, huh? Zines. I made a zine. I took pictures and wrote stories and I put them in a zine. Back in the 80s I would trade zines through the mail with people like Tod Swank, Andy Jenkins, Chris Johanson, Kevin Wilkins, etc.. This led to friendships. And I grew up in San Jose and was fortunate enough to be able to skate with people like Steve Caballero and Corey O’Brien and all the pros up there in the 80s on a regular basis. It didn’t really feel like an industry, it was just the scene I was a part of. I suppose it still doesn’t really feel like an industry. Feels more like a family. A very dysfunctional family, but a fun family.
Some people say the skateboard industry is like highschool. Would you agree or disagree?
You mean like that it has a rumor about a girl who had to have a frozen hot dog surgically removed from her vagina? At my high school her name was Darcy. And she was a cheerleader. I wasn’t attracted to her, but I suppose by the standards of the day she was considered “hot.” Darcy fucked herself with a frozen hot dog and it broke off way up inside her and she had to go to the doctor to get it removed. Or so the rumor went. I’ve since learned that this is what is known as an urban myth. I’ve met lots of people who were privy to the same high school rumor. It usually revolves around an attractive cheerleader or otherwise popular girl at the school. Someone who you’d like to stick a hot dog in. And so they stick a frozen hot dog up their baby hatch, presumably experimenting with their sexuality and naïve to the way their junk works, and—oops!—the frozen hot dog breaks off way up there because she was totally jamming herself—I’m just going to stop right there. I have no idea what I’m talking about. “Totally jamming herself?” So anyway it gets stuck. I do not know of anyone in skateboarding that has had a hot dog stuck up their vagina. So, no, it’s not really like high school.
 “Baby hatch” was used to demonstrate how not to write. It really should have just said “cunt.” Or “vagina.” Or even “snatch.” “Baby hatch” is just way too clever. You know that dude that can’t just say he was taking a shit? No, he had to “drop the kids off at the pool,” or some fucking nonsense. I hate that fucking guy.
Is it really more about “who you know” than “what you can do?”
I think the “who you know” thing could be an aspect of getting ahead in any industry with the exception of maybe sleeping. Are you asking, “How important is sucking cock in the absence of any kind of talent?” It’s very important. So is bullshitting. If you have a talent, or a skill, you just do it and show it to people. And then somebody will be like, whoa, fuck, check this fucker out! But then again you gotta find that dude that’s gonna say, “Whoa, fuck, check this fucker out!” So maybe you do need to know somebody? I don’t know. That’s a difficult question. I think I’m just going to take my friend Mark Whiteley’s answer (I know him!) and translate it into a few different languages and then back into English:
“For the most part know which to do get much first as you. Not for everyone, but often no doubt. But regardless, you lose who you know, if you make the work of the low. Something of value, not just to the be cool to do. Or you have to do at least something value, if you really have a to make room for themselves and want to do things. That is, to know that a few important people who can put your name to others, the key to easier get the chance. So be and do people know, but know what you do have to.” That’s exactly what I was trying to say.
What was one of the major obstacles you faced to get to where you are now?
My skateboard. Staying on my skateboard has been my biggest obstacle in skateboarding. Fuck that fucking thing.
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February 5, 2013 1:22 pm
” Staying on my skateboard has been my biggest obstacle in skateboarding. Fuck that fucking thing.”
February 5, 2013 1:43 pm
best writing ive seen from carnie in a while. keep it up düd… you’re killing it.
February 5, 2013 1:58 pm
The worst is when people want a job filming / writing, doing whatever, and don’t even know a single thing about using the programs or have a camera. If you want to get a job doing something, go, get it, and LEARN the damn thing before emailing people asking for jobs you know nothing a bout. Have something to show. Have a Youtube. Have a portfolio. Put in the work and it will pay back double.