There aren’t many aspects of skateboarding that are underserved in today’s market. You could skate a different board brand every month for the next four years, but you can’t say the same about riser pads. Since they are a niche product, the riser pad market has been held down by the likes of less popular hardware brands like Lucky’s.
2 Riser Pads have been quickly gaining a following and just released a first-of-its-kind pro riser pad for Frog’s Frankie Decker. Ran by Robert Blazek, Kris Burkhardt, Masa Sun, and Chris Ramos, the brand is pulling off a balancing act between low-budget shitposting and high-quality ads while taking advantage of something we all overlooked: who TF has a riser pad sponsor?
While the brand is still in its early stages, I was eager to know more, so I hit up co-owner Robert Blazek to talk about these pro riser pads, the art of a perfect brand name, and posting on TikTok.
2 Risers’ first Instagram post was in April of 2019, which is mad long ago. How long were you guys sitting on this idea?
Ummm so long. Honestly forever. Initially, it was hard to figure out how to make riser pads at a cost that made sense for us at the time. That delayed us quite a bit, and then there’s human laziness. We were just skating and having fun rather than thinking of actually making something. I guess one day we just woke up and were like “Ok, now we should make it.”
Manufacturing is an annoying and long process for sure. Luckily riser pads are mad small, so it’s only taking up a corner of our place right now. We have an assembly line type deal on our kitchen table. We just have to deal with pads and T-shirts.
Are you guys the first brand to make a pro riser pad?
Yeah [laughs], NBD. Professional riser pads were always a huge goal for us, and we wanted them to be more than just a different color. We wanted them to say the pro’s name or something special.
What’s the backstory behind getting a bench advertisement for Frankie’s pro riser?
We went rogue for that one. We printed out those big things at Kinko’s and then put on high-vis vests and installed them. If you have cones in your hands or some shit you can do anything you want. We didn’t even get one person giving us a hard time, so we just glued the shit right over existing ads. You know, the budget is fucked, we don’t have money to do ads like that.
Looking back at World Peath, a video that launched a lot of your friend group’s careers, is it crazy to see how far everyone’s made it?
I look back at that stuff and I just get really happy. I’m stoked that I grew up with those boys and that I still get to know them and do things with them. If Nick [Michel] goes on a Vans trip that I’m not going on or Frankie is going on a trip that I’m not going on, I know I’ll see them eventually. We’re still all really close, and like I said I still film with Daniel [Dent] and he gets paid to film now. Even though they’re my OG friends, I know that things become a job at some point and the fact that he makes time for me still means the world.
“We got some heavy hitters who maybe don’t even know they’re on this brand, but they will know [laughs]”
How did you end up with this Avengers-style team, and can we expect a video from this lineup?
Well shit, I don’t know. People just saw it and were stoked about it so we put them on the team. It’s random, and maybe some people are on and they don’t even know they’re on. We got some heavy hitters who maybe don’t even know they’re on this brand, but they will know [laughs]. Also, it’s just riser pads, so anyone can wear our stuff. No one has a riser pad sponsor.
As far as a video, that would be awesome, I think it’s definitely possible, but if we had a bunch of people send us footage it would all be throw away. We have no exact plans, just off-rip guessing how a video would be.
Who was the first guinea pig to test out the pads?
We got the first samples at my job. I work at the Palace store in Los Angeles, and the first people to test them were Frankie and Kanin [Garner]. Kanin’s honestly the first person on the team too.
Kanin’s 100% beast. He was the first person to hardcore believe in the brand, like he loved it so much. He didn’t even ride pads, and as soon as we got the samples he was riding them. Riding pads isn’t a requirement to be on the team, but yeah. He also rides big wheels and sometimes does manuals so it just makes sense.
Tell me about being one of the only skate companies active on TikTok and the balance of shitposting with proper advertisements.
I don’t actually have a TikTok. It’s run by our guy Chris Ramos in New York. I don’t even know what’s on it [laughs], but I know Chris kills it. I think people are stoked about how funny TikTok is, especially compared to Instagram which seems a bit more serious these days. It’s all funny and random bullshit. I don’t think there was any marketing scheme behind it. It’s just a place where Chris can get funny and stuff like that.
There is definitely a balance. We all send random memes and stuff in our little 2 chat and we’re always trying to think of funny things that have to do with riser pads. Luckily, we have [Kris] Burkhardt who lays out super proper ads and shoots awesome skate photos. If you go on the Instagram you can definitely see who made what if you know enough about the individuals running the brand.
“It’s just riser pads, so anyone can wear our stuff. No one has a riser pad sponsor.”
What made you want to pursue running a company instead of focusing on skateboarding?
With skating, I always kind of knew and had an understanding of the type of skater I am. Maybe I downplay myself a bit, and obviously being a skater that goes on trips all the time is doper than working or whatever, but I just don’t think it was in the cards for me. Obviously, I’m not PURSUING skating but I’m still getting clips lowkey [laughs].
In Las Vegas, I don’t think we even thought it was possible to become skaters. We were just making parts because we liked skating that much. It wasn’t necessarily the mission, and I wouldn’t even say it was the mission for the people that made it, people like Nick and Frankie. Obviously, they knew that they were really good and it was possible, but I swear our main focus was always just hanging out and making videos. That’s what got us stoked.
2 seems like a deceptively simple name. What you think makes a perfect brand name?
A couple of things make up a perfect brand name. One of the things could just be the brand and the people that are doing it. There are some brands where I’m like “What the fuck, how did they name that,” and then they do fine because of what they make, who runs it, and who’s involved. As long as something is by somebody likeable or the product is cool enough I think you’re gonna be fine. Whatever you call your thing, it will eventually catch on.
My other opinion about brand names, and it shows with 2, is I like it when there’s not an immediate vibe. I like when you can make up your own vibe about the brand. With 2, it’s not immediately anything to anybody. It’s not immediately evil vibes or immediately cute, you know? We can be evil if you want us to or we can be cute. Evil is so big these days, like that style, and cute is also really big these days.
“We can be evil if you want us to or we can be cute”
We need more Zero-esque American flag branding I think [laughs].
Yeah, I think that’s its own kind of evil.
Is there any plan of going into shops or is this going to be strictly online from your store?
We just got confirmation from Labor Skateshop a couple of days ago, we’re in Marriage out here, and we’re in Japan. We’re even in Trevor Thompsons’ shop Plush, but at this moment we have to hand-pick shops a little because of our stock numbers. We want to supply other shops, but we have to take care of the people we know first. Our goal is to open up to all shops as soon as we can. We’re currently upping our everything.
“As long as your friends are hyped and rocking with it nothing else should matter.”
Do you have a piece of advice for someone who wants to start their own company and doesn’t know where to start?
I don’t think we’re in the position to give company advice or anything like that yet but an important thing is doing it with your homies. I feel insanely lucky to be doing this with such talented people. I don’t even want to know what the brand would look like if it were only me. Friends are everything, and as long as your friends are hyped and rocking with it nothing else should matter.
If you have a crew already I’d say just start making stuff. Wake up at a decent hour, drink a coffee and follow through with producing whatever it might be. Also, don’t force anything. I’ve been brainstorming brands since I was sixteen, and there’s been a million different ideas, names, and styles. You will know when it feels right and when to pull the trigger, and when it does be loose with it. Just fucking make stuff, and make stuff for yourself.
WILL TIKTOK BE THE NEW HOME FOR SKATEBOARDING ON THE INTERNET?
We called up some "skate TikTokers" to find out what they've learned and seen so far.
PLOTTING THE LIFECYCLE OF A TRENDY TRICK
"Pressure flips are cool again. Actually, their second act has lasted longer than their first did."
CHECKING OUT A HIDDEN DIY FINGERBOARD PARK IN QUEENS
When we heard about a mysterious concrete fingerboard park hiding in Brooklyn, we knew we had to go find it.
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH ILLEGAL CIV?
The Illegal Civ stuff feels like an ongoing soap opera, so to air out any confusion we talked to a few key characters.
WE TALKED TO A SNEAKER BOTTER ABOUT THE STATE OF RESELLING
We tried to understand one of the most obnoxious new hustles.