Interview by Mark Whitely
Photos by Shigeo
The rumors of Cole signing up with another shoe company were around for months, how did he approach you about that possibility? Was it up front or had you heard rumors first?
He was pretty up front about it, the topic came up when he started winning everything while simultaneously getting Thrasher's 'Skater Of The Year' again. It was obvious his market value was going up fast, but he was real respectful when he approached me. It basically came down to one question, was Fallen was in the position to support him at the level he needed to be supported? Not just financially, but did we have the ability to market him to the audience he now appealed to as well as were we ready to open our distribution that broad. As bad as I wanted to make it work, the answer we both kept coming to was no.
Personally, how did you take it? You seem pretty good at separating business and friendship, but I'd imagine this was kind of a grey area in that regard.
It was tough imagining him not on the team, but like any major change, you eventually get your head wrapped around it and start looking for the positive. It was a little tense for a bit, because our families are friends and I think he made his mind up a little bit before I gave up on making it work. It was like we both had to process it until we exhausted it, then all was good again.
Less than a week after the official announcement that Cole had joined DC, Zero announced that Cole is now an official partner at the company. What exactly does that mean in terms of how he functions at Zero beyond being a pro?
Well, not much will change on the day to day because I always include him on team issues and major decisions. He's also really good with suggestions of what we should be doing and what he'd like to see. These days it's a little tougher to find the time to talk like we used to because he's really busy with a few projects and I'm always busy, but we just have get more organized with our time.
How much of that coming to pass was based on his departure from Fallen, and do you see Cole stepping into any business roles that you ran previously?
It was really kind of separate to the situation with Fallen, but similarly, it came about as a result of his massive success over the past few years. Throughout the discussions about Fallen he kept telling me, "I want to stay on Zero," but it was obvious that whatever he was involved in he should get paid through the roof or have a stake in the company. So with that in mind, I suggested that we pay him really well and give him a stake, and Cole was down.
I'm not really expecting him to relieve me of any of my duties, I see him helping navigate the direction of the company through his influence on the graphics, team, product development and marketing. Cole's a really bright dude with a lot of good ideas, so that added to his abnormal ability on a skateboard made the decision to cut him in a no-brainer.
Was putting Jack Curtin on an attempt at filling Cole's shoes? Also, he's a little different style-wise than the rest of the team, what is it about him that made you think he'd be a good fit for Fallen?
Well it's obvious no one can fill Cole's shoes and at first glance it would seem like him leaving creates a hole in the brand, but I see it as an opportunity to grow and diversify as a brand. Sales-wise, we'll be alright, Cole rode out his contract which gave us the ability to plan and design some new shoes and we have a lot of new dudes we are integrating into the program, so personally I'm really excited about the future for Fallen, probably more so than I have been in years.
As far as Jack goes, he's a big step toward what I always wanted Fallen to be; a true skate footwear brand that represents skateboarding as a whole. Jack's sick, he rips, he's an awesome dude and gets along with everyone really well, so we're all psyched to have him on the team.
SWITCH NOSEGRIND - PHOTO: ZASLAVSKY
Is Jack getting a shoe soon?
We're working on it, it will probably come out in a year or so, but I gave him two colorways of one my shoes for Holiday of this year; a Forte low and mid. He picked the colors and they came out really good.
You also seem to be looking at Tom Asta to possibly step up and fill some big shoes on the team. Talk about him and some of the new guys you see coming up.
Tom is amazing, he's probably the closest thing I've seen to Cole. He's really talented, but he also grew up skating with Cole, so he thought all the stuff Cole was doing was normal. Tom is turning pro in March when his Color Theory part drops, and his shoe is coming out for back to school this year.James Hardy is turning pro after his Real part drops and his shoe is in the works also. He's been on a rampage and he's one of my personal favorites, him being from Alabama probably helps, haha. We're also releasing new ams, Jon Dickson and Dane Burman in the coming months. Both of those dudes rip and are extremely motivated, so I think they will help round out the team.
SWITCH HEEL - PHOTO: TAKETOMO
Who do you see as Fallen's main audience? How do you differentiate Fallen from other skate shoe brands?
Well right now, I think the majority of our audience is the people that have been able to identify with the brand throughout the years, but I think this year will be a time of growth for Fallen because of the diversity and the new group of dudes coming up. We also have a new web and ad campaign we're launching in the next few months to promote the new Fallen video we're working on. The video is scheduled to be released next year.
I feel what makes Fallen different is that it's made up of a bunch of motivated working class dudes. Our goal is to be a source of inspiration to make people want to go out and get some.
Zero is hard at work on the Cold War video. Any teasers? Who's got first and last right now?
And how about that Tom K part???
Yeah, we have a commercial dropping along with a new site in the coming weeks. The parts haven't really been put together yet, so the order is far from decided. I know I want a part in there somewhere and I'm gonna try as hard as I can this year to make it happen. Tom K. will definitely have footage in the vid and hopefully a part, he's the coolest kid. We're also working on a Ben Hatchell part and a Rob Maatman part. Oh and if John Fitzgerald wins 'One In A Million' and wants to ride for Zero, it'd be sick to get some stuff of him in the video as well.
The Cole story is the big news of the week, but I'm curious about how it all will affect you as a pro and a business operator. What do you ultimately want your role to be both on board and off?
I'm trying to travel and skate a lot more this year. In order to do that, I have to get really organized and delegate at least half of my duties at Black Box to people that will be in the office everyday. I've spent the last few months working on that and I start traveling in February, so I have to pull it together soon. I'm psyched for all of this change.
Any last words...
I want to thank you for the interview, everyone that supports Black Box, all the kids, dudes at shops as well as all of our team riders and employees.
I'd also really like to thank Cole for all of his loyalty and support throughout the last decade!! Peace...