Art of Board and I Ride I Recycle started off as a small, grassroots movement in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Founder and President Rich Moorhead still works at the East Coast headquarters, where the company manufactures tile from recycle skateboard decks. The rest of the crew is located in Orange County, including Co-founder and VP Bruce Boul, Managing Director Steve Simon, and Director of Sales and Marketing, Susanne Andrey. Working together from both coasts, the company has been amping its efforts toward expanding from the tile industry to create a product more relatable to skateboarders everywhere, and will be dropping new iPhone cases, headwear, and eventually an entire home collection made up of pillows and other textiles--all made from recycled skateboard scraps--at core skate shops across the country this May.
“It’s a full circle --we recycle wood waste, create designs from it, and those designs, in turn, a portion of the profit we make from them goes back to the industry whether it’s supporting Grind For Life, Life Rolls On, or the Tony Hawk Foundation,” explains Simon. “That’s part of the whole model--to have a full circle and continuously give back.”
On top of that, the company is gearing up to release a collaboration deck with Penny Skateboards that will embrace the brand’s new Organic Boards model, and have joined forces with Element on its No Board Left Behind program.
To further support the model of giving back, the brand is reaching out to communities throughout Southern California to give youth and adults a hands on experience of turning recycled skateboards into art, by setting up shop at local events and allowing passersby to create their own keychains from reclaimed wood scraps. Stepping that grassroots strategy up a notch, the company also recently signed on as a sponsor for TransWorld Skateboarding’s Come Up Tour, which will provide an opportunity to get in front of six core skate shops across the nation, potentially instituting their signature skateboard recycling bins and educating the skate community about their program.
With so many exciting programs in place at the moment, we caught up with Simon and Boul to hear the details behind Art of Board and I Ride I Recycle, and the company’s strategy for 2013.
Why did I Ride I Recycle get invovled in the TransWorld Skateboarding Come Up Tour?
Bruce Boul: First and foremost, it’s about sustainability in skateboarding and us creating a solution for the skate industry and being that industry standard when it comes to sustainability. That’s a huge part of our movement, and the other pillars of our movement are supporting local skate shops and empowering youth. The fact that these are grassroots tour stops and local skate teams really speaks to our whole philosophy. We want to encourage skaters to bring their used and broken decks to each event as they come support the tour. At the Del Mar [San Diego, California] event we had a booth with our key chain event, which is where we use all the broken and extra scraps and drill holes in them and allow people to make keychains and things with them.
Stephen Simon: As you probably know, we work with hundreds of skate shops around the country and we have recycling bins in some of them but our goal is to continue to produce more bins so all shops we work with can have bins in their shops. With the six shops associated with tour stops, the idea is that the bins we have in production now will be extended to them first.
BB: That translates into some of the new stuff we are doing like headwear and iPhone cases. A portion of the profit from those are giving back to the industry. It’s important that people understand we are for profit under Art of Board, but that I Ride I Recycle gives back to the core of the industry.
Tell us more about how you are expanding into different product categories?
SS: Our product offering is really evolving. We started off making tile and we do a lot of commercial retail stuff with tile. We’ve evolved the product line a lot and now have apparel, iPhone cases, and a lot of licensed products. There will be an opportunity where we will have an online store, and the user will be able to go on and buy a phone case, click a drop down menu and there will be an amount, say add an extra dollar to the sale, and they can donate to Tony Hawk, Grind For Life, etc. We want to put that in place across the board and make it really easy for users to be able to support these organizations.
BB: Our whole philosophy with Art of Board is embracing art, and paying homage to graphic art on skateboards. As skaters ourselves, that was always a really important part of the skate culture. You see a lot of artisans out there from broken skateboards whether it’s jewelry, or other items. We’ve always focused on showing the art on the bottom of the board. From the tile, we looked at how we could evolve this product to make it accessible to everybody. Not everybody is buying square footage of tile--our core customer there is architects, designers, and retailers. So we were thinking, “how can we put Art of Board in the hands of the skater? The 20 year old kid? Let’s evolve, let’s take it into print, these beautiful images of skate tile.” We have an entire line of textiles coming out soon- an entire home collection: pillows, headwear, the images just translate so beautifully onto fabric, on the bill of the hats, and the underside of visors. It’s still embracing the scratches and scrapes on the underside of the skateboard, and even though it’s not actual skateboard material, it still tells the story of that skateboard in the Midwest that was recycled and now has become a hat, a phone case, or the ceramic tiles or textiles have been made into a pillow.
SS: Strategically we are trying to stay true to skate and art itself, but also properly expand the product offering we have.
So everything you mentioned above will be available at retail soon? Or are you taking some time to release product in each category?
BB: As we evolve, we realize it’s becoming more of a lifestyle and design brand. Art of Board, as we get into apparel, is becoming very much a lifestyle brand which we are really excited about. Right now, headwear is what we have ready to go. We are still working on the design and have a couple partnerships established with likeminded brands. Headwear will be ready by May, and mobile cases will hit retail in May as well. So that will be our first step into that world.
What’s going to be unique is that the headwear can be tailored to skate shops. It will still have Art of Board imagery, but it can also be tailored to have the skate shop’s logo and/or name on the hat. We are reallly all about supporting the local skate scene and the grassroots communities. With the headwear, the first thing we want to do is offer it to the skate shops and give them some ownership.
The company we are working with and licensing this headwear under, Pukka Inc. of Irvine, California, have plans to put it out there beyond the skate shops to other retailers, as well. We want to make sure whoever we align with and whatever company we work with, that it’s a sustainable brand. We only use specific organic materials, and Pukka Inc. allows us to do small batch custom product. It’s about giving the shop options and choices because they know the customer better than we do. Pukka as a partner is the best at being able to execute that, so we are excited to be able to work with them. We are also working with Adaptive Textiles in West Chester, Pennsylvania, for our home collection.
Wow, sounds like a great partnership and a strong strategy. So moving forward, how will skaters and the end consumer relate to your brand – will Art of Board and I Ride I Recycle stay separate, or will you be linking the two as synonymous?
BB: Our call to action is “Join the Movement.” It’s become our tagline for industry shops and retailers, but also for individual riders. Buying a phone case or recycling your board at a local skate shop, you are joining the movement by doing that. It’s a full circle.
SS: Ultimately, our goal is to tie the story together through broken decks collected by I Ride I Recycle, we take those components and turn them into products, and the proceeds then contribute back to the skate community. We are trying to tie that whole message together.
BB: From an activation standpoint, we will combine the websites. It will be Art of Board, but will be very clear that I Ride I Recycle is a part of it, and it will be very easy to get to that portion of the site. Whenever we hand out collateral, we tell the whole Art of Board I Ride I Recycle story for newcomers --we want to simplify the story so it’s an easy get.
What else are you doing to build awareness around the movement within the skate community?
SS:We are big on participating in the skate community through events and activations, that’s always been the best way for us to spread the word. I would like to let other skate charities, parks, and shops know that the Art of Board/I Ride I Recycle team is available to support some of their key initiatives when it comes to doing the right thing in the skate community.
What’s the plan with recycling bins – are you instituting more of these in skate shops regularly? Any major ones being installed?
BB: The recycling bins we have in production right now are all going out to shops.
We always had skateparks involved in the movement, and there are a few out there, but one challenge is you can’t put a cardboard bin permanently outdoors because of the weather. So we have an artist we are working with now, and together we are taking a large trashcan with a lid that hinges open, and the artist is painting these. We’ll unveil the first one next month at the etnies Skatepark as part of an event, and will leave the bin there as part of a permanent installation with a cool artistic aesthetic that we will donate. We will donate these to as many parks as we can get involved with and do events with, and we think it will be nice to have a really fun artistic painted colorful bin sitting outside that people can see as that touchpoint and understand the program. At some parks, there is nobody on site, and so this provides an option for them.
We have also recently brought Element’s No Board Left Behind program under our recycling umbrella. IRIR has been working with IASC’s Just one Board program for the last year and now with Element in the mix, IRIR has a solution for used or broken skateboards in varying stages of life. In partnership with Element, IRIR has recycling bins shipping out to 100 shops in the next few weeks adding to the 30 original bins that were shipped to shops last year. Through the movement, shops will collect and ship all recycled wood waste, used trucks and wheels to IRIR at no cost to the shop. All broken decks are repurposed and given new life in the form of Art of Board’s lifestyle and design brand. Decks that are still rideable will be re-furbished through Just one Board and given to kids on Go Skateboarding Day. Decks that are too beat up to refurbish, but not broken entirely, will be used in Element’s No Board Left Behind program and cut into smaller cruiser boards. Art of Board is hoping this gets more skate manufacturers and brands involved and interested in stepping up to join the first-ever national, grassroots skateboard recycling movement.
Genius. I love that idea. Can you discuss the other project you have coming out later this year with Penny?
BB: As a company known for recycling skateboard wood waste, collaborating with a plastic skateboard manufacturer may seem like an odd fit for Art of Board. But Pennyboards has come out with a new biodegradable plastic deck that works with naturally occurring enzymes in soil to rapidly increase bio-degradation. The deck features a unique additive to Penny’s secret plastic formula, which decomposes the board when completely immersed in the earth. Coming later this year is a new series of Penny Organic Boards that will feature Art of Board’s signature skate tile mosaic designs printed on the Penny, which turns them into a canvas to tell the I Ride I Recycle story. With photo-realistic imagery, each board will embrace the scuffs, gouges and scrapes of used skate decks recycled from all over the USA.