How did you find your way into a career in the surf industry?
My timing was good; I started a window display company doing displays in the early 1980’s for all these up and coming brands. One thing led to another and Quiksilver hired me full time, I was there for almost 25 years. It was a good ride.
What were some highlights of working for Quiksilver and Roxy in those days?
Quiksilver was a company of firsts: first company to sponsor a $1M surfer, first company to go public on NY Stock Exchange, first company to open free standing stores, the list goes on. I was fortunate enough be be in charge of designing all the stores, at one time there were a lot of them! I traveled all over the world doing that job.
Working with Barry, Leslie and Keone Kanaiapuni on their surf shop was another highlight, such a legendary family. Also being able to work with Danny Kwock, both he and Bob hired me back in the day and Danny had a HUGE influence on me, even to this day.
Opening a store in Soho NYC before Soho really blew up, store was at Spring & Mercer which is now pretty much ground zero for Soho. I remember standing there with Bob McKnight, Gregg Solomon, and Marty Samuels trying to decide if we should open a store there, everyone just sort of shrugged their shoulders and were like, yes, let’s do it. There was no market research, no outside consultants, Quiksilver was very much a gut decision type of company which I think served them well.
I loved how Quiksilver was able to straddle those two worlds; working with such core surfers in Hawaii AND opening stores in NYC and pulling both off. Very much a testament to the strength of the brand.
As someone who was a part of shaping surf culture during such a pivotal time, what are your thoughts on the current state of the surf industry and culture these days?
I love what a lot of smaller brands are currently doing, there is so much cool, curated stuff out there and its so great to see what the next generation is coming up with, super inspiring. The era of the big brands (with the exception of perhaps Patagonia) are mostly over, there is a huge opportunity for the smaller micro brands to fill those voids. A more curated point of view for the customer is great.
What are some of those smaller brands you like?
Sport of Kings Forever Young.
I walked into their store at Pacific City, didn’t know anything about the brand, my mind was blown. They do such a great job.
Deus Ex Machina.
I discovered them back in the day in Australia; they are master merchants and merchandisers and their stores always look fantastic. Great product as well.
Thalia Street Surf Shop.
I love everything about this store, my good friend Jim Olarte helped them on the store design and I can’t think of a cooler surf shop. I appreciate that they take chances on smaller brands and I love the sense of discovery I get every time I walk into the store.
So great how they’ve always given their surfboard line priority over everything else, it’s what drives their business and seems to be working. Plus, they’re cool.