Eric Koston and Guy Mariano need no introduction but they just introduced something themselves. It’s called called Numbers Edition, their new brand, and right out of the blocks they present a collaboration with Nike. We talked with them about the anxiety that comes with starting something new and why they left Girl.
[Interview: Stefan Schwinghammer]
It’s not the first company you do together, so I guess you already know that you’ll get along well as business partners.
Eric: Yeah, I think so. Guy? I’m pretty easy to work with, right? [laughs]
Guy: What are we talking? 25, 30 years?
Eric: At least 25. Mostly it wasn’t really work for the most part.
Guy: Just with doing our launch video and going through our first graphics and some of the stuff we’ve been working on, it’s been exciting, it’s been refreshing. Sometimes after you’ve been pro for a lot of years you tend to not… not that you don’t care as much but projects and boardgraphics and stuff kinda lose some value in a way. Maybe you don’t pay attention to it. But all of this first graphics and first videos, it got us excited again, it got us gitty.
Eric: Yeah, I mean it’s new. It’s not that we haven’t done this before but the fact that we have started something new, the excitement is definitely there. The anxiety, the pressure, all those feelings that come along with it, the stress, the headache and not sleeping. But definitely the fun stuff is still to come. Getting together with this new crew. With Miles, Antonio and Rodrigo. It’s pretty exciting looking forward getting on a trip together, getting in a van together.
Guy: The way I would explain it, like… If someone is getting sponsored for the first time.
Eric: True, I’m pro again. I wasn’t pro for anybody for a while. So was Guy.
“Me and Eric both thought that we would ride for Girl for the rest of our carreer.”
Was that the reason you left Girl and started something on your own, cause the excitement was gone?
Eric: No, that definitely wasn’t why we left. We weren’t like, “We’re bored of this place, we gotta get outta here”. There’s definitely other circumstances that got us in that position. We didn’t plan on bouncing from Girl when we’re 40 and start a new company. But things did happen and we ended up leaving. It is what it is.
Guy: Me and Eric both thought that we would ride for Girl for the rest of our carreer.
Eric: Yeah, but things happened, things that we weren’t okay with. You know, you sit there and are kind of unhappy and make a decission to make yourself happy. That’s what it came down to. Shit happens, change comes and sometimes you don’t like it but that’s inevitable, everybody should know now. Change definitely happens, sometimes it’s not what you think, nor are you okay with it. I think us skateboarders are pretty resiliant, you know? What happens happens so we had to move on and make the best of our situation.
Guy: I don’t think we were extremely happy with the situation that happend. I don’t think they were but I think on both parts change had to happen and it’s gonna help me and Eric grow individually and it will help them grow individually. I think they will move on and so will we.
Did you learn some tricks over the years from Carroll and Howard about how to run a boardcompany?
Guy: I think we all learned together.
Eric: Yeah, we did. We all started together young. We kind of figured it out together.
Guy: The way it worked at Girl, everybody played a big part from videos to clothing to music. A lot of the skaters are really involved over there.
Eric: So we definitely learned some stuff along the way and I learned from a lot of different places. You know, I was a part owner of Lakai at some point. I learned a lot things there. Or even from back in the Soletech days. We both just observed and you learn from the good and the bad. For me with the Berrics that was another huge life lesson as it grew. You never stop learning.
Guy: We’ve been the majority of our career at Girl but I also learned a lot from Stacy Peralta at Powell, Spike Jonze at Blind… There were a lot of experiences from different brands besides just Girl skateboards.
You said in another interview that Numbers is one of this new, small companies and that you’re sitting in the office, doing stuff yourself. But are you really doing all the designs, talk to factories, calling the shops and stuff?
Eric: We have two employes. We can’t call every shop, that isn’t our specialty. But if we gotta help out in any way, we can do what we can do.
Guy: We’re not calling the shop but we definitely went through all the shops to pick and choose of who’s gonna be selling the product.
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What have you planned for Numbers? What do you want the brand to be like or what do you want to achieve?
Eric: Were do we start here? It’s another creative outlet for us. That’s one thing we definitely want to continue to express that with who the people we work with along the line from a creative standpoint as well as the team and riders and bring up this new generation, ideally more as we grow. More than just the guys that are on the team now. We wanna help those guys also use this as a creative outlet as well for Rodrigo and Miles and Antonio. He’s still a bit unknown to some people and he’s special, so we really wanna make sure people know who he is. We want people to understand the feeling that we get when we skate with Antonio. It’s our duty to make sure that he’s portrayed in the right way.
Guy: I think it’s save to say that we’re trying to create a save home for many years for this guys to look the best and promote them the best we could. I think that me and Eric have been blessed with a lot of people in our lifes that really helped us to get where we want to get and it’s time to pay it forward.
We talked already about riders being involved in a company. Is it like that with Numbers as well, that riders are involved in the artwork or who does the artwork?
Eric: Yeah, I mean if Antonio is drawing something and we really like it, sure. Or if it’s also the other guys or other people that are interested, especially artists or street artists or furniture makers… Who knows what’s gonna come.
Guy: I’ve been super surprised on how much input the riders have been giving me and Eric and our team because when I was getting on teams the first time I would always just be like, “Oh, just go ahead. Do whatever you want”. But I think Miles and Rodrigo they’ve been very involved in graphics. Even one of the first graphics, they were like: “Oh, we don’t know if we’re feeling them that much”. I thought that was very cool of the rider to give an honest opinion and I think that’s only gonna create a healthy brand. I think communication is the key.
“We don’t wanna just come out with average stuff and play it safe. We wanna be a little risky, we wanna be a little different.”
Now you start with a Nike collab. Can you tell a bit about this?
Guy: First of all me and Antonio and Eric all ride for Nike and Nike SB Apparel, so it was a no brainer that we were gonna collaborate with them. I think the K3 shoe is really something that helps push innovation in skateboarding and that’s something that we want our brand to stand for. So being able to collaborate with them, even on that shoe, I think it tells a good story and it tells a story that we wanna get behind. We don’t wanna just come out with average stuff and play it safe. We wanna be a little risky, we wanna be a little different, we wanna use stuff that pushes technology and creates innovation and performs really well. So I think that the whole thing is just a great fit and I’m really honoured to collaborate with them.
Eric: The opportunity just came about and for sure we had to do something and I always wanna keep doing that. That’s something we’ve done and we are super interested in on the apparel side of things. It is always the shoe that’s definitely something we think about and that’s an important part of the piece. It’s something I do with Nike. The apparel side is something we also still have an interest in creating and influencing design. That comes from way back when we started Fourstar. That’s still in our DNA. So when this came about it was an absolute, “Yeah, we gotta do something”.
Talking about Fourstar. Cause there’s also a number in it I thought there might be a connection between these two names.
Eric: No, there is no connection. But numbers they represent a lot in skateboarding. Everything we do, it’s all about numbers. We probably don’t pay attention to the fact that how much we’re obsessed over that stuff, but it is. It’s like, how much, how high, what wheelsize, what millimeters, how long is the part… it’s endless, it’s infinite. Numbers are infinite. With our brand we would like to keep that in mind to keep it infinite.