When I was summoned to judge the most recent stop of the Collegiate Skate Tour in Astoria, Queens this past Fall, I was fortunate to do so alongside Fairweather Skateboards’ Bryan Davis. In getting to know each other before the heavy afternoon of shredding that we were about to witness, he introduced me to his brand and told me to look out for a couple of his riders that were seeking the podium that day. Judging by tricks that the likes of Rene Searles and Caleb Yuan threw down, it was clear that Davis had some talent on the side of team Fairweather.
Through my efforts to write a recap of the event, I took a deeper look into Fairweather SB. Finding a considerable social media following for an independent brand in New York and seeing some praiseworthy editorial reviewing some of their graphics, I was intrigued. In taking things a step further and interviewing Davis himself, I would come to learn that the Fairweather Skateboards is actually a group effort that uses their combined competencies to create the finished decks we see in the walls of shops across the greatest city in the world. Take a look:
Team rider Caleb Yuan showing the college students what a textbook backside 180 to backward nosegrind (or switch 5-0) looks like. Photo: Amy Torres.
Based on how freezing and snowy it’s been in the Northeast lately, NYC weather is anything but fair for a good part of the year. That being said, where does the name Fairweather come from?
Fairweather came from a group of friends that got together to skate (at first, only). Sort of a Fairweather Friend thing… We met at KCDC’s ramp on weekends and evenings (oddly enough, during crappiest of weather).
It seems like having five different owners of the company could get a bit tricky, especially given the size of a small independent skateboard company. How do you guys find a happy medium?
This is true, we have 5 owners. Basically, we all put in a reasonable amount of money to get samples from various manufacturers and to produce a run of decks for us, at first. We sold some to the local supporting shops and reinvested. Back to the owners, 2 are silent partners, 2 others help with web and graphic production and I handle Social Media, Sales and Inventory. It is basically a 3 man crew to make it work. We all have full-time jobs so things move slow sometimes.
Tensions running high behind the judges table at the NYC stop of the Collegiate Skate Tour. Photo by Amy Torres.
I know you’ve already spoken on many of the Fairweather graphics over the years on NY Skateboarding but are there any special boards to have come out since 2015? Any stories behind those ones?
We try to have a lot of fun with the graphics and some examples would be the Ooh Baby I like it raw graphic Wu-tang’s ODB as Jesus eating Sushi. It was made to look like some clip-art MS Paint production level. Another one that comes to mind is a complete throwback to the old Vintage Valterra Dragon graphic. Lately we are focusing on a few 2 deck mini-series that play off each other and highlight an artist or work together.
You guys got a gleaming review in the Ripped Laces “Best Boards of 2016” piece. What’s it like to see your care for quality, empowered art direction recognized and celebrated?
Blown away and flattering! It was wild to see that come out and be stacked against those heavy, heavy hitters. We have Jurgen Koch to thank for the care, attention for detail and high quality art production. The Fairweather Staff does get together (the 3 of us, Ha’) Rob Russell being the 3rd, to brainstorm on graphics, concepts and new products. With that, we hope to not let you down and keep getting better & better at it.
How have you guys built a community of riders that ride your boards in a city where there are so many other boards available to them?
We are not trying to take over the world but I feel there is room for Fairweather to have a place in this industry. We built a network of NYC shops that have supported the product since day one, so we are grateful for that. We also have a few team riders that help to push the product and create that presents so a big thanks to them – Jesse McEneaney, Rene Searles and more recently Caleb Yuan. Personally, I am out skating with people as often as I can. I also try and acknowledge any supporter of the company. This could be through an introduction & thanks or a thank you via Instagram post (be sure to check from time to time). If someone out there is skating hard on a deck that has had some better days I usually give them my deck at the end of my session. Maybe the next deck they get will be a Fairweather but I am glad to do it regardless of the results.
See more of Fairweather at www.fairweatherskateboards.com