To start this off, yes, Schlaudie is looking for our next rider to sponsor. Do you think that it could be you? Well, do you have the drive and commitment to better the team? Do you have the skills necessary to compete amongst the best in the industry? Do you have the style and bag of tricks to catch people's attention? If you said yes to any of these, then you are off to a good start. But, there is more to it than being good.
At Schlaudie we get hundreds of messages and DMs asking us if we are sponsoring. We fully appreciate the love. We really do but, let's be real. Not everyone can be sponsored. Not everyone has the skills necessary for a sponsorship. For those few who do have the skills necessary, that is not the full of it. Skills are just the entry point to being looked at.
When brands are looking to bring someone onto their team, they are bringing someone into their family. They want to not just have another rider, they want the relationship that comes with it. Now, that relationship is not just a relationship among friends but also a business relationship. The business aspect is a major part of being sponsored and we will get into that shortly.
From the outside sponsorships come with so much awesome. Riders get bragging rights with their friends, props at the park and of course, free goods. Who doesn't love free goods!? Every month, boxes of boards, clothing and cool fresh shiny new items arrive in the mail. In this day and age where many pro decks can cost upwards of $80 in the US and $100 in places like Canada, free boards are not only amazing for the morale but also amazing for the wallet. But, the wallet is where sponsorships are directed. Because it is free for you does not mean it is FREE. You still have to pay for it. It just may not be coming out of your wallet.
Companies, both big and small, are not in the game just to give out free goods. Companies are in the game to grow and to pay bills. They use the talents of the riders (you) to increase their own standing in the world. With the best riders on the team, it shows the world that the product is "cool", solid and premium quality. Advertising definitely helps with this but there is nothing better than having the top rider in town repping brands. This has been the way advertising has been done for 100 years. It is tried and true. As a rider, you represent every single brand you work with. Your job is to put out material; and high value material. Constant material. Your job is to build your own base and create your own "branding" for yourself. Make yourself valued within the community you are in. If you look at some of the biggest skateboarders of all time, they are known not only for what they have accomplished but also because of the branding they have created under their own name. Take Tony Hawk for example. Tony was the first to do a 900 on a ramp in competition. Now, true it was past regulation time (it did not count for the comp) but it happened. We all saw it and we all were hyped for it. But, had Tony said "Ok, it's done" and then stepped off and allowed himself to disappear, history would always know that he was the first to do it but arguably, he would be no where near today's notoriety. Tony went and rode the hype train. He went onto Nickelodeon multiple times, did interviews, hyped Birdhouse Skateboards and created the Tony Hawk Foundation. Tony branded himself and he did it beautifully. Tony's 900 was in 1999. That was 23 years ago. Tony retired from skateboarding (the first time) in 2003. That was 19 years ago. Now in 2022, Tony is just as influential and respected in skateboarding as he was in 1999 and 2000. That is due to branding. Multiple people have landed the 900 since then and last year, at age 12, Gui Khury landed a 1080 at the X-Games. A 12 year old of all people! And where these people most definitely should be respected and be given the love they deserve, they are no where near the level Tony is with going into the history books. As a rider, YOUR JOB is to find a way to make it into the history books. This does not mean that you necessarily will make it there but the drive, commitment and thought process should be there. This is what your sponsors want and honestly, you owe it to them. So, when you are posting content, use your imagination. Posting the same tail slide on the same rail day after day gets boring. In 2019 Milton Martinez won Skater Of the Year. Granted, he had a crazy year with a lot of banging clips in the spot light but the one that made Thrasher's decision was his Kickflip into the carwash bank. (See below).
(Above) Milton Martinez 2019 Skater Of The Year
MIlton, as many pros and top name AMs are, is hungry. The high level skillset added in with a crazy imagination makes all of us say "WHAT THE FUUUDDGGGGEEE" (except we don't say fudge). Going above and beyond on tricks is a huge way to represent yourself and your abilities. Representing your sponsors and yourself is not limited to only while you are on a board. If you are still in school, wearing your sponsor's logos on clothing and talking about your sponsors to friends is part of the job. Being THE FACE of your sponsors is what you are. When talking to skaters about what brands are the best, talk about your sponsors' brands. I mean, let's be real. If you are riding for a brand that you are not stoked about, why are you riding for them to begin with? If the quality is not good enough to tell other people to try, why are you with them? Photoshoots, competitions, headshots all should be with you wearing and representing your sponsors. Don't show up to a photoshoot or competition wearing an Etnies T-shirt if you are sponsored by Circa. If you do, are you representing Etnies or Circa? Circa will be asking you that question later, I guarantee. This is a real thing that not only your sponsor will see but other brands as well and they will judge you and the brands you are with. It gets ugly. Don't do it.
When you are competing at competitions where one brand has paid big money to get you there or invests in you the most, it is good courtesy to place that sponsor at the top of your sponsor list. This way when the announcers call out your sponsors, everyone knows who supports you and who you support.
So you have the skill, imagination and drive. Now what? Well, it's a really good idea to have a great filmer. This is a difficult part of the process of building yourself. Most people want to be in front of the camera, not behind it. Where it CAN be done without a filmer, being able to grow your popularity and show off your tricks is best able with constant high quality clips with proper angles at good locations. Skate parks are fun to skate at but the streets are where the true meat and potatoes are at. Just like in the rap world of the 1990's "from the streets" is where the respect came, so does skateboarding when it comes to clips. The best way to draw in the community who has not yet heard of you is to do it from the streets. Have a filmer shoot clips on the 5 stair at the local library; that crazy gap behind the Stop and Rob or the crazy crapped out sidewalk by the rubber ducky factory down town. When those clips come out, they will bring with them more love and attention. If they don't then review what you have done and keep going. This is a grind and it takes time. But, don't forget. Your filmer wants some love too. He records you so you better record him as well if he asks!
At Schlaudie, we invest in our riders. Not only do we hook up our riders with plenty of fresh slabs of wood and tees, we also send them around the country to compete in major competitions. Whether it be TampaAM, Zoomiez Best Foot Forward or the PHX AM competition coming up this March. We try to do what we can to keep our guys moving and growing! We also hook up riders with photoshoots and slap them into major magazines as ads, using photographers such as Blair Alley of Transworld Skate for example. None of this is free for us. As a smaller brand, we actually have to pay more to get air time than the major brands. So, when a sponsor invests in it's riders, that sponsor expects the riders to invest back.
Beyond investments, another major thing brands are looking for is a good attitude. This is one thing that is IMPERATIVE you have. Some riders, and I am sure you have met them, need a heavy dose of Humble Tea. It's that guy at the skate park laughing at the new rider for falling off his board while learning to ollie. Its the dude cussing out people who are sharing thee park with him because he thinks no one can skate within 50 feet of him. He's got a bad attitude and is showing himself to be a complete jack ass. This is not the attitude brands want you to have. Many of the top skaters in the industry have bad attitudes and many have lost sponsors because of it. As stated before, you are a direct representation of the brands you carry. And your brands are a direct representation of you. Make sure you both match what the brand is after. Every single one of our riders has a great attitude. They are all humble and as a brand owner, that is exactly how I want it to be.
Know the Brand. One of the things that upsets me the most is when I get a DM on Instagram saying "Hey do you have any riders on your team?" As a brand that tries our hardest to put our riders first, I am not sure if that shows I am not doing a good enough job at pushing our riders or if it shows me that you have not learned about the brand. If it is a "ME" issue, then that is something that I will take and continue to improve on. But, as a "YOU" issue, it also means that you have not done the bare minimum of learning about the brand. If you go onto www.schlaudie.com , you will see photos of our riders on the main page with their names listed. If you go to our Instagram, you will find our rider's names listed on our home page and tagged in every single photo and video they are shown in. The bare minimum of research into the brand will show that we have team riders and that we support them. By asking questions like this, it shows us that you do not even know if you would be a fit with the brand, have no clue at what level our riders are at nor have any clue of what we may be looking for. It all-in-all shows us that you are simply just looking for free goods. That, to me, is a red flag and a solid way to begin the conversation on the wrong foot.
Knowing the brand also includes buying the goods. How are you going to know about the brand if you have never tried on their goods? With us, if you have never skated our decks, how do you know you will even like them? Maybe the concave isn't what you are into, maybe the shape isn't up to par with what you like. Every deck is different and every company has their own little THING that makes it theirs.
It also includes knowing what the brand stands for. Schlaudie is veteran owned. As such, we support the military. Did you know that many people are against the military? For years, people have called soldiers "baby killers". Are you one of them? As a brand known around the world, I have been told by a major Canadian distributor "Military brands will never have a place in Canada". I have also been told by a very popular, well known pro skater that soldiers are murderers. So, I know for a fact that those people are out there and in our communities. If you are one of them, Schlaudie is NOT the place for you. We are also not a brand that pushes and promotes drug use. Knowing what the brand is about before you reach out to them should be paramount on your to-do list.
These are a few of the things brands like us are looking for and a few things you need to think about when searching for a sponsorship. For now, go check out Kento, Rickmo and Z and show them some love. If you think that we are a brand you could fux wit, reach out. Get some of your best quality clips put together, loaded to YOUTUBE and sent over. If not, all is good man. We hope you take some of the info we have provided and can use it on your own future endeavors.
Remember, the skateboard industry is ridiculously brutal but don't let that stop you. If you don't get sponsored today, keep grinding and having fun. Improve yourself in all ways so tomorrow is your day!