“How To Start A Skate Shoe Brand” With Damon Way Of DC Shoes

Damon Way – 2018

Skateboarding & business have more in common than we care to think. With the act of skateboarding, elements of timing, calculated moves, and precision all come into play. If you don’t time that nollie just right, it could mean the difference between landing your trick or ending up with a variety of injuries at the bottom of some piss-infused stairs. The same could easily be a metaphor for business.

For those reasons and more, I decided to reach out to some of the most respected skateboarders & businessmen on a topic that isn’t so searchable on Google: “How do I launch a Skate Shoe brand?” Successfully, at that…

Damon Way is the first of many on our list of ripping entrepreneurs. He co-founded DC Shoes, Droors Clothing, Dub Brand Outerwear, and currently runs FACT Brand. His experience is immeasurable when it comes to launching a brand so we had to pick his brain and find out more about what it takes to get into the riskiest business in skateboarding. If you’re looking to take the plunge someday, take notes…

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Where do I start? What sorta background, aside from being a skateboarder, helps?
Getting started will require the following:
a. Product Vision
b. Footwear Factory
c. Ample Funding
d. Design Chops
e. Development Skills
f. Connected Sales Lead
g. Differentiated Marketing Story

Where do I find a reliable designer who’s willing to help me?
The best way to find a designer is to poach them from an existing footwear brand (preferably one that is non-endemic to skateboarding such as Nike or Adidas) with a compelling offer tied to aggressive upside potential such as a meaningful equity stake. And if they are good enough, and there is chemistry in the air, then consider making them a full partner, and go at it together… Something I highly recommend based on my own experience. And if you are not convinced, then ask Pierre Andre from Sole Tech what it is like to go at it alone… Getting perspective from both sides (partners / no partners) will be important.

How do I fund this project?
Funding can come in a variety of ways… Here are some ideas.
a. Friends and Family
b. Factory Arrangement
c. Brand Partnership
d. Distributor Investment
e. Kickstarter
f. Venture Capital

How do I find a factory to make my shoes?
The best way to find a factory is (1) to ask the people you know that work at footwear brands, (2) search the internet, (3) pack your bag and travel to China and Vietnam, or just scour Alibaba with the hope that you land something reliable.

Aside from a designer & an investor, what else do I need?
The biggest considerations beyond funding is marketing and sales. If you have an undeniable story such as “FA/HOCKEY starts footwear brand”, then great, high five. But if that is not the case, you will need to have a connected sales guy that can pull favors to open doors. Then hope your story rises to the top through relentless storytelling. Or just make an amazing video that people don’t see coming with the next crop of kids from Montreal.

Misc/additional advice…?
Don’t do it unless you are seriously funded and have the right story, as you will be going to war with the superpowers of footwear. They will buy everything out from underneath you, including your riders… The only weapon that will hold up in this battle is having enough influence on the street to change public opinion and the brand leaderboard. Again, if Dill and Ave went to war with the big boys (with Supreme’s support) they may be able to do it… Gravity, gravity, gravity! That’s the game.

Comments

  1. bg

    January 9, 2018 11:44pm

    so basically there is no hope.

    Reply
  2. C

    January 11, 2018 4:50am

    Pierre Andre from Sole Tech, what it is like to go at it alone ? ?

    Reply
  3. Peter McLean

    January 12, 2018 7:41pm

    DC is looking good again.

    Reply
  4. tomisrad

    January 17, 2018 7:27pm

    The only thing wrong with e’S is cheap materials and wack colors inserted in rad shoes. It is like they get a discount on shit materials and use them on good colorways. Who wants a red or orange collar on their shoe? And the insole design, garbage! The designs are so sick though (SLB 97 I am talking to you babe). DC is the same way but at least they are listening to their customers. The Lynx coming back is so good, along with Evan Smith’s shoe. DC only has shitty rubber for their soles, wears super quick if you shimmy, and the fact they still make mall shoes…but their core skate are sick AF. DC is good at hitting every market. If DC brought back the BOXER, Clocker, the RUDY 2, Kalis 1…maybe the dyrdek 1 or 2, fuck. killing it!

    Reply
    • J

      March 11, 2018 12:25pm

      The Rudy 1’s were one of the best looking shoes ever, especially the white w/ navy sole, but the Rudy 2’s are still to this day the best shoes I’ve ever skated in.

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