After a decade of hard work as an amateur skateboarder with stints on the NYC brands 5Boro and Zoo York, as well as on Tony Hawk's Birdhouse brand, New Bedford, Mass., native Anthony Shetler finally turned pro in 2009 for World Industries. Five short years later, World Industries dropped their team and Anthony recently found himself shoulder to shoulder with many other skate veterans on the unemployment line. And there aren't many employment opportunities left in skateboarding. With dwindling sales and overstocked teams, companies are being forced to downsize or worse, shut down operations.
This shift is thrusting many veteran pro skaters to a crossroad: Do they retire from the ranks of professional skating, get a straight job and start the next chapter of their lives? Or do they hold on for as long as their current sponsor will allow? As we saw in 2013 with Anthony Van Engelen and Jason Dill's FA Skateboards, Brian Anderson's 3d Skateboards and Alex Olson's yet-to-be-announced new board brand, many pros are choosing a third option of venturing out and starting their own brands. That's where we pick things up with Anthony Shetler. When World Industries put up their "Gone Fishing" sign in December, I contacted Shetler to check in. He assured me he'd been planning for the end of his time with World for years by launching and promoting his All I Need clothing brand. Now free to venture out into the realm of skateboard manufacturing, Shetler sat down with XGames.com and laid out his plans for the launch of his own new board brand, All I Need Skateboards.
XGames.com: What happened with World Industries? How did you find out?
Shetler: When World first asked me to ride for them, they came to me because they wanted to rebrand the image away from Flameboy and Wet Willy and try to bring it back to World's original direction of just raw street skating. I was hyped and down because R.P. Bess was brand manager and Charlie Thomas was team manager and I have a lot of respect for them. Unfortunately the rebranding never really happened. Everyone that worked and skated for World were core skateboarders, but the owners were not skateboarders. They were businessmen and didn't really care about skateboarding unless it was making them rich. That being said, I knew World was owned by people that didn't skate and might pull the plug on all of us someday. So my idea was to take the good money I was making from World and start my own brand, All I Need. AIN started as an apparel brand because I couldn't make decks while skating for World. So for the four years I skated for World, I built the AIN brand and saved money to eventually start making AIN decks. I basically got paid for four years to live a pro skateboarder lifestyle and to build my own skate brand. I took money from non-skateboarders, who couldn't care less about skating, and used it to start AIN.
Do you think skateboarding is going through a period of weeding out the non-skater owned brands? Or do you expect more outsiders to get into skateboarding?
I feel that skateboarding is growing, learning and adapting. I like to think that we are learning that if we don't build up our own brands and control our own industry, non-skateboarders and outsiders will do it instead. Right now for skateboarding, I feel that the people that have put in blood, sweat and tears and have truly dedicated their lives to skateboarding and not just for profit should be the ones carrying the torches through this crazy transition time in skating. I think there will always be non-skate brands and outsiders involved in the skateboard industry, but we as skateboarders need to be able to decide how involved they are. Outsiders and non-skaters shouldn't be able to take the skateboard industry to the edge of a cliff and leave it hanging on for dear life. So many skaters have sacrificed so much (relationships, health and careers) just to build skateboarding to what it is now. It just feels wrong if we let it slip into the hands of people that don't know or understand the beautiful feelings that come from being a skateboarder.
What was the highlight of riding for World?
Traveling, turning pro, getting a signature skate shoe and making some lifelong friendships.
What are your plans for board sponsorship now?
I've skated for some of the biggest and most successful skate brands over the past 12 years: 5Boro, Birdhouse, Zoo York and World. I've learned what it takes to build and maintain a skateboard company: branding, marketing, graphic design, team management, social media, etc. I've also learned what not to do when trying to build and maintain a skateboard brand. So I'm gonna take all my knowledge and experience and apply it to All I Need.
Tell me about All I Need. When did it start? What's it all about? Who rides for it?
AIN started when I was riding for Zoo York. I was having a difficult time, and I didn't know where my life was going. I felt like I was surrounded by people that didn't really have my back. I wasn't sure if my dream of becoming a pro skateboarder would ever happen. So I made a decision to simplify my life. I decided that I was over lusting after what I want and that I was gonna put all my energy into what I need in my life, which was friends, family and skateboarding. And AIN was born. In 2008, I had six minutes of extra footage that Zoo didn't want to use for the "State of Mind" video because the footage didn't fit their NYC feel, so I took that footage and made a skate video with my family and friends and we titled it "All I Need." Right now the two ams on AIN are Billy Drowne and Corey Goonan. Both Billy and Corey are my close friends who shred and have huge hearts. There will be two pros: myself and we will announce the other pro when our team video drops on The Ride Channel shortly.
Do you think in this economy it's a good time to start a board company? What's gonna set AIN Boards a part from the pack?
I think anytime is a good time to chase after what you love and to build yourself a brighter, more beautiful future. I work hard and have discipline so that I can fill my life up with the things I need to be happy. I also keep healthy happy people around me who have these same qualities and similar outlooks about life, which helps out tremendously. I think AIN is gonna stand out because we have a solid foundation built from important human qualities like work ethic, passion, drive and love. I feel like this will attract creative and strong-willed individuals to AIN -- that will make our videos, graphics, marketing, designs, collaborations and skating something to cherish. The idea is to put out content and product that have heart and feeling behind it so that real people out there connect to it and want to support it.
What's your game plan for 2014?
Hustle with my whole heart and to continue to see the world as an amazing place where anything is possible.
Where do you see skateboarding in five years?
We as skateboarders decide where it goes. It's going to take a lot of hard work and heart but skateboarding is worth it.