Upstarts: Etcetera Project Founder Ronnie Creager

For more than a decade, Etcetera Project Founder and pro skater Ronnie Creager has been toying with the idea of creating skateboard gear that he couldn’t find from other brands within the industry. After searching outside the market, pitching his idea to several sponsors, and then finally hand-sewing a homemade ankle brace, or “stabilizer” himself, Creager began mocking up his ideas, turning out some initial product, and enlisting a crew of skateboarders to test it.

“Eventually I reached a point where I decided that it’s time to get these ideas manufactured, and in the hands of any skater that needs them,” says Creager. “There wasn’t a specific hole in the market that I saw, it’s more like I saw a lot of small holes that we could fill with a new breed of company.”

The brand officially launched in June 2011, after the gear was put through the paces from Creager’s friends and fellow pros. “We had to make sure we had everything done right before we shipped anything,” he explains.

More than a year later, Etcetera has been working steadily to establish themselves in the skate market with an offering of insoles, ankle stabilizers, and other necessities that Creager uses regularly himself. We asked him to elaborate on what Etcetera brings to the table, their current distribution, and working with pro Marc Johnson on a new insole collaboration.

You’ve got 30 seconds to pitch your brand to a retailer. Do it…

Etcetera is all about making new and great products for skateboarding, especially products that aren’t already available in the market. It’s a brand that adds a new category to your inventory. It’s not a brand that just blends in with everything else on the shelf. I mean, how many Ankle Stabilizers, Board Mounts, Insoles, or Film Pads did you sell last month? Destroying your feet, rolling an ankle, and tripping over your board are all common problems in skateboarding, and we’re offering some solid solutions!

We’ve put a lot of effort into making Etcetera an easy brand to stock, i.e. “trim to fit” insoles so there is no need to order sizes. The Anke Stabilizer comes in only three sizes, that cover from 7 to 13. We’ve designed all of our packaging so you can either touch the product, or have a clear picture of what’s inside. Plus, we’ve never had any complaints about pricing or margins!

How would you describe the brand’s vibe and reason for being?

The brand’s vibe is all about creativity and innovation. Our products tend to have a “why didn’t I think of that?” vibe to them. I mean, what are the odds you’re going to roll your ankle or land primo while skating? Pretty high... Trust me on that one. Even simple things like leaving your board on the floor can get you in trouble. We’ve got something for that too.

We actually call it the “Etcetera Project”, because we want it to grow as a result of input from the skaters that get involved. We are definitely covering areas of skateboarding that are commonly overlooked. A good example of that is when Chase Gabor got involved and designed a “Film Pad”. It’s a little pad for skate filmers/photographers to use while they kneel for hours on end. Every crew has a filmer, and they need stuff too!

Congrats on signing Marc Johnson. What strategies/approaches have you learned in working with your sponsors in the past that you’ll use in partnering with your team or do differently because of bad interactions?

Yeah, having Marc on board is amazing... He’s a genius both on his board and off it. When it comes to our team that’s an easy one... Work with them, and listen to them! It’s a team effort, plain and simple.

What’s been your best selling product so far?

Our insoles have been our best seller so far. The Ankle Stabilizer is really catching on though, which is amazing.

There have been a number of new insole companies popping up lately – how do your Primo’s differ from other products on the market and what’s the science behind them?

To be honest I don’t pay too much attention to the other guys... If I did, we’d probably all end up making the same thing. I’ve seen a few “infomercials” and what not, but that’s about it. I’m not going to name any names, but a lot of guys hit me up for and wear our insoles.

We really took the time to cover every angle with the insoles. Only the best materials, all placed in the correct areas. When skaters see them for the first time, they know these are the real deal. The response from Primo Pad in the arch area has been overwhelming, to say the least.

Do you skate the Ankle Stabilizer on the regular or just when you’re hurt?

I get asked that a lot. The Ankle Stabilizer is fully skate able and I wear it all the time. Of course it’s also good for nursing an ankle/foot injury. I’ve been trying to get that message out there for years. You don’t wear a helmet only after you’ve hit your head! Your ankles are one of the most vulnerable parts of your body when skating. You need to take care of them!

How many shops are you in and what’s your goal on growing distribution? Why should a shop bring you in?

The only goal we have is creating products that are proven to work they way they should, and get them in the hands of those who will benefit from them. With great support from companies like Eastern Skateboard Supply and South Shore Distribution supporting the brand it’s hard to tell how many shops exactly are carrying Etcetera at the moment. I can only account for 30 or so shops that I personally do the sales for. We don’t have a business plan with set sales goals in place.

Who else is working with you on this project?

There’s only two of us. My friend Marty Shadoan, and myself. Skateboarding has been our passion for our entire lives... Marty’s been designing skate shoes and other skateboard products since the mid 90’s, and while I’ve been on my board more, I’ve always been into designing product as well. We’re both stoked that we finally get to focus on the same thing and collaborate. It’s been a long time coming, that’s for sure.

What other products can you see expanding into? Any plans in the short or long term?

Our short term plans are the same as our long term when it comes to overall expansion. If we see something missing from the market, we’ll jump on it. Marc Johnson and I have custom colored insoles coming out this month, along with the Film Pad by Chase Gabor. The rest is still under wraps, but we’re working on some cool stuff!

Tell us about your Finders Keepers with Ronnie Creager program?

Finders Keepers is an expansion of how I’ve always liked to bury products and create scavenger hunts. Now I’m getting shops involved so we can hide stuff all over the world, and integrating it into our website and social media channels. It’s a really fun way that Etcetera and the shops can work together and create something fun and unique in skateboarding.

What else are you doing on the marketing front?

We’ve got a lot of ideas in the works... I can’t really mention them here, but no gimmicks that’s for sure. We’re really trying to show what can be done by staying positive and putting our experience to work for the benefit of skateboarding. We’ve got some more amazing skaters that are about to get involved... Stay tuned. It’s gonna be tight! I’m stoked on everything!