When I started skating, 25 plus years ago, skateboarding had a handful of brands, and they were all fairly serious in nature with the exception of a few comedic sketches in their videos. As time went on, things started to change, and some smaller brands started popping up and changing how the industry was run.
I remember when Rubbish Heap came out like it was yesterday. Besides the amazing skating, there were cut scenes of people breaking other peoples boards, kids eating worms and throwing up, and even a hand written letter delivered to Rodney Mullen stating he should be street skating instead of freestyling. Not only did this grab my attention, it also showed me how much fun you could have while skating.
Let’s jump to present day. Everyone knows Enjoi, but I’d like to show you another comical company and its owner, one that may not be as well known. I’d like to introduce you to The Friend Ship Skateboards.
SMDM:So here I am again…As I usually start these, what’s your name, and what do you do?
Tim: My name is Tim Olson, and I run a failing skateboard company. I kid. We’re killing it! I’m doing this interview on my Segway while eating caviar off of a runway model.
SMDM: Dude, Segways are so 2015…you need to get on that Hoverboard. So, what made you feel the industry needed another brand? Why not start a Segway brand, or even better, a vape juice brand?
Tim: From a financial standpoint, starting a vape juice brand would have made so much more sense, but seeing how I really, really like skateboarding, I had to start a board brand. My emotions got the best of me. Stupid passion. Sadly, the industry doesn’t need any more skate brands. Everyone, HERE I AM, at least for now.
SMDM:I think there is always room in skateboarding for a little comedy. Things get too serious. How did the name The Friend Ship come about? Was it to confuse shop owners and aspiring bloggers? It took me a while myself to figure out it had a nautical theme.
Tim: At this point, I don’t even remember how the name came about. I think it was just a brain fart that lingered around a little longer than the rest. I liked it. It felt right. I wanted to call it “Revive”, but someone already took that name, so I had to settle…
SMDM: You can always do unboxing videos and pretend you got the name you wanted. With that said, you were also a “Roger of the Month”. How did that come about?
Tim: Well, my friend Eric and I decided to make a part together for a local video. Our main goal was to bum out this super serious kid that hated a less serious approach [to skating]. It ended up being way more fun than I thought it would be, and turned out pretty good, so I sent it to Michael Sieben. He has always been a huge influence to me, and it turned out he liked it, and the rest just happened. Never thought we would end up doing 4 parts and getting a board. All that snowballed into me being able to do this company. Life is crazy. There is a lesson here; ALWAYS try to bum someone out.
SMDM:Hopefully that dude was bummed….?
Tim: If he was, great! If not, no big! In the end it all worked out for the best.
SMDM: I’m sure he was. Speaking of Roger, were you teammates with Nate Broussard, or had he already retired?
Tim: He was still on. I think that was around the time he kinda stopped trying. Maybe it was our fault? Total bummer. Not many people have that natural talent. I hate when it’s squandered, but at the same time, people need to do what feels right for them. Why force it, ya know? There’s plenty of dudes out there still cashing checks that probably shouldn’t. At least Nate didn’t wear out his welcome. Totally respectable.
SMDM: He was the best. He was around for a while. So basically you getting involved with Roger made him quit. Have you forced any other careers into early retirement?
Tim: I hope so, but I’m not entirely sure.
SMDM: All of us Nate fans will just blame you from now on. Now that all of the dirt is out of the way, let’s get into The Friend Ship. I noticed you just put out some new wheels that fart. How did that idea come up?
Tim: Nate Joski. He is a brilliant dude. He came at me with a the idea of putting a moving object on a wheel, and I came up with the farting aspect, and then he drew it. Nate is the best. He kind of smells weird, but I can deal with that. He lived out in L.A., and when I moved out here, he moved back home. Coincidence? Doubtful.
SMDM: Sounds like a win/win. He can email artwork and smell odd while in a different state. Has Garfield sued you yet? Do kids even know who Garfield is?
Tim:Not even a C&D. I have a frame waiting here for my first one. I doubt kids know who Garf is, but I’m just as out of touch with what they know about, so it all balances out.
“Not even a C&D. I have a frame waiting here for my first one”
SMDM: Yeah, I hear that. I noticed I hear names of skaters and I have no clue who they are. What’s a Kyle Walker?
Tim: Dude, he is good! And the only reason I know that is because he was SOTY and everyone and their mother posted that dang 50-50.
SMDM: That’s basically how I heard of him. I swear, I used to keep up on things. Now, I don’t think Ryan Gallant was a SOTY, but he rips and has been riding your decks. Is that something permanent or just a friend helping a friend?
Tim: I want him on. He knows. For now, I’ll help him out until he figures out what he wants to do. I think he would fit our program perfectly right now. He is all about the red curbs and he is killing it. At the end of the day, he has to do what he feels is right, but I’m here if he wants a board with us. He’s a great guy!
SMDM: If you could get any corporate backer to be able to hand Mr. Gallant a blank check to ride for you, who would it be?
Tim: Weedmaps. Or Audi.
SMDM: Weedmaps. Great choice. Very profitable. Speaking of profitable, since you own a brand you must be living the lavish lifestyle, and sponsor tons of kids. How are the DM kids going these days?
Tim: Oh yeah, I’m just rolling in it! I even just got my own phone turned back on yesterday. I’m actually kind of cutting back on the team dudes in hopes of surviving. It sucks, but I know the guys I’m letting go have opportunities elsewhere and will have no problem finding support. As far as the DM kids, there is no shortage. I wish I could get paid to read those things. I’d be rich. Some are pretty funny though.
SMDM: That’s actually my goal. It hasn’t panned out yet. I will say those DM kids are humerous. Have you ever “sponsed” a kid from a DM?
Tim: I’ve definitely reached out to a guy or two through DM. John Benton, or as you know him @fustoop. I followed him forever, and I knew he fit with what I was trying to do. It worked out perfect. He’s amazing. He is a perfect example of how a DM can be a good thing.
SMDM: I knew he was a DM kid! He didn’t tell me though. I take it he cut and pasted properly?
Tim: No, no. I reached out to him! I was the thirsty one.
SMDM: Oh, reverse DM! That’s a new one. Good for you. yeah he seems rad and really promotes the brand. Does he get incentives for Instagram views?
Tim: Nah, but he gets free skateboard decks and clothes. I guess that’s incentive, right?
SMDM: In the world we live in, yes, he is living like a king. So as far as small brands go, how do you rank on the scale? Top is garage brand. Then there is the porch brand (which I just learned about), and the bottom is the basement brand.
Tim: Man, that’s a tough one. Numbers is a garage brand, I’m going to go ahead and say we’re a ‘cardboard box under an overpass’ brand. Or, maybe were just not a brand at all. And by “we’re” I mean “I’m” since I’m the only employee technically.
SMDM: You have those Osiris checks coming in though……
Tim: I think you meant to interview Mayhew, dude…
Tim:I wish Osiris would pay us for that video….
SMDM:So, is it all fun and games running a brand?
Tim:Yes 100%. There’s zero work involved. I just go to the warehouse and all the boxes are magically packed, all the emails are answered and the videos are filmed and edited. Let’s not forget the board graphics. I have a skateboard graphic generator app that pretty much does all the work for me. Then Zazzle fulfills the orders and the boards arrive and unpack themselves. It’s awesome.
SMDM: Sounds about right.
Tim: Then, I go home, sit in my chair made of stacks of hundred dollar bills. I don’t worry about anything. Honestly, it’s pretty fun. Sometimes it’s work, and sometimes i’ts stressful.
“I go home, sit in my chair made of stacks of hundred dollar bills. I don’t worry about anything”
SMDM: I have the same chair!
Tim: Dude, it rules! Moneychair™
SMDM: I got mine on sale, best money I ever spent. You should make it a graphic. Speaking of graphics, do you do your own?
Tim: No. I do a few each season. My girlfriend does some, and then I like to find other artists to do some as well. Makes for a totally non cohesive line.
SMDM: Do you get the chance to do many collaborations with other brands?
Tim: No, not a lot. I love doing them though. I’d love to do more. I did a truck with Krux and some grip with Mob. That was amazing, those guys were great to work with. Whaley rules. I’d really like to do a shoe with someone. I want to work with Queit Life. Those guys are sick. Maybe do some more guest boards. DGK would be a dream collab. So polarizing.
SMDM: How did your collab with Krux come about? Were you bummed you could never to the “Screaming Louie” truck they did?
Tim: I think it was just meant to be. A lot of my guys ride Krux and we have a similar ethos. I reached out to Ron and there wasn’t much hesitation. We both knew it was a good match.