Josh Priebe and Jayson Valencia met six years ago while working together at Blitz Distribution. With similar backgrounds in youth culture and both born and raised in Southern California, the two shared a similar dream of creating their own apparel brand. Priebe, who formerly founded Sk8mafia, had already built a solid foundation in the skate industry, while Valencia--who worked for Flip creating graphics-- drew upon his roots in graffiti and art. The final product was the launch of JSLV, or Jus Liv, a brand that combines the skate and snowboard culture, with music and art.
“To me it was exciting to know that someone else shared the same vision I had and was determined to do whatever it took to start a company,” says Valencia.
“We had an idea to start something positive that represented the both of us, from that JSLV was born,” adds Priebe.
The brand, which is now under the umbrella of Blitz Distribution, has been making headway over the past six years, and continues to expand its collection by working with several up-and-coming artists like The Seventh Letter, and collaborating with well-established brands like New Era. TransWorld Business caught up with founders Priebe and Valencia just before they were setting forth to Agenda in Long Beach, to learn more about how the brand got it’s start and where it’s headed.
A lot of brands have married the worlds of surf, skate, music, and art, but JSLV has its own feel and has been growing like crazy during a tough time. What makes your brand’s design and approach different?
Josh: We are involved in things that we come from. Jay's background is graffiti and art and mine is skate and snow. We only focus on the things we come from, from there everything we put out or affiliate ourselves with is family related which we both think breeds positivity.
How would you describe the brand’s vibe?
Josh: Lifestyle brand for the Masses.
How about your customer?
Jayson: Anyone from 15 to 40. I mean we try to have the brand be universal and having graphics and cut-n-sew pieces in the line that can cater to the different age-groups and likings within. For example; on our hat game you might find anything from a Trucker hat to Fitted or even Fisherman-style bucket hats to mention a few.
What are you guys releasing at this January’s trade shows that you’re most hyped on?
Jayson: I would have to say the full collection! It’s a huge accomplishment for me to know that we have one upped ourselves again. If I really had to pick one thing it would have to be the Joint Project we did with the Artist ZES from mid-city LA and The Seventh Letter! Being that I have been wanting to do something with him for a while since he was a [graf] writer I looked up to growing up in the city. With him being from a crew called LTS that had one meaning of Life’s Too Short, adding Jus Liv to it was natural and having him hand-paint the graphic was an exciting moment.
Are you introducing new categories, styles, etc?
Jayson: A painter-style pant and knits have been some of the newest addition to the line. Not to mention that we have stepped our hat game up from last season with some proper detail ones that are sure to have the JSLV customer hyped.
Three marketing moves you’ve made that you’re most stoked on:
Josh: The artist collaborations we have done have def been something that we've been stoked on. We have always been a fan of having our family and the right people wearing our gear, that is the most important thing with marketing a clothing brand. If no one is wearing your clothes then the marketing is obviously not working.
Jayson: Also starting a Snow and Skate team was a proper investment since it gives us a great platform for anything. Our Agenda Parties would have to the one we are most hyped on: Done Wutang, Warren G, Too Short, and Dj Quick.
Who owns JSLV and what’s the relationship with Blitz and Sk8mafia?
Josh: Jay and myself created JSLV and then partnered with Blitz. Sk8mafia is owned by myself, Dan Connelly, and Peter Smolik and has a licensing deal with Blitz. So basically we are all family.
How many accounts are you in these days and how has that grown since ’07?
Josh: We are in about 150 core doors at the moment. We have built the brand one shop at a time. I think the problem with start up companies is that they think if their product is in the store its all good. We believe that you build your brand through each shop. When the shop is ready and not forced into carrying your shit, the more likely you're going to have a long term relationship with each other.
One sentence message to a retailer that’s not sure about carrying JSLV:
Jayson: Give it a chance because one: Everyone is down to Jus Liv, secondly it will sell out! And third, we will send you a proper box for the shop… All love.