In a time where nearly every company searches to please the action sports consumer, few have the legacy of etnies. From their beginnings as shoe brand to fulfill the exact needs of skateboarders in the 1980’s, they have become a mainstay in motocross since the mid 90’s by sponsoring members of the early Metal Mulisha. Over the past two years, they have delved deeper into our sport by releasing lines with Chad Reed, Jeremy Stenberg, Levi Sherwood, and the Mulisha in addition to becoming a sponsor to the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. As Team and Marketing Coordinator to moto, Joey Daroza has been in integral part in the investment, and we spoke with him on what it takes to be capture the sport at the company’s Lake Forest, CA, headquarters.
What is your title at etnies and how long have you been part of the company?
I have been at etnies for five years, and I am the Action Sports Marketing Manager. I do both the surf team and the moto team.
What is your background?
I graduated with a Communications degree and was lucky enough to get an internship at SoleTech in the marketing department. I started working with the team managers and after working under them for three and a half years, I got the opportunity to take over the surf program. I have been doing that since and have worked with moto for just about a year.
What is the biggest difference between the surf and moto markets?
Location, that is for sure (Laughs). I think the biggest difference, but it is starting to catch up a bit, is trend. What surf guys are asking for and what they like to wear versus what the moto guys like, but it is all transferring over to that slimmer style. “Twitch” said it best, because now that he is wearing a slimmer pant, he wants a shoe that is slimmer. I think that is the biggest thing, just the personal styles. Other than that, they both want something comfortable to get around in.
Your three biggest people in the moto market are Chad Reed, Twitch, and then the Metal Mulisha. How hard is it to land a premier athlete or group like them?
Timing as a lot to do with it, and where people are in their careers. Being an established brand, like Jeremy has been with us for 12 years now, we have an established moto program that people are stoked to be a part of. Chad has ridden for us in the past and the opportunity came along to work together again, and we couldn’t have been more excited to do it. I think being around for a while is our biggest advantage. We have played around in the moto world for a long time and with some of the true innovators in freestyle, and guys respect that and want to be a part of it.
The biggest thing etnies has done was being a partner sponsor in the Nationals this summer. How is it to pull together funding for that and then run cross-country with it all year?
It is not easy, that is for sure. It was a lot of planning, getting things like activation. You have all this time planning what you are going to look like when you do get all set up, and then it comes time to move it week after week. Then you have to look into shipping all the activation and product. It was a big learning experience and it was definitely one of the biggest events etnies has ever been a part of. We learned a lot this year and had a blast. I had never just driven across the country before, so it was cool to pile in the RV with four of us driving from National to National. I am excited for next year, because it is going to go that much smoother.
How do you differ on the marketing campaigns for Chad, who is an athlete, to Jeremy, who is a bigger personality?
There are some similarities, because they both like to have a good, clean kit. Both of them are hands on when it comes to design and what their products look like, which is awesome. There is nothing better than to work with someone who has a voice. When it comes to actually marketing, that comes through on them. We take the time to find the photo that portrays what we want to put out, but it is Jeremy out there digging and building the jumps. Chad is a little bit different, too, because we have the full head-to-toe apparel line with him. His is a little bit bigger because it is not a focus on a shoe, which is cool for us to do. For the Mulisha, that collab has been big for us. A lot of things we have here, we wouldn’t have if we didn’t put their logo on our product. They have bigger than life personalities and its taking the time to capture it, showcase it, and transfer it to the product.
Of those three, who has the biggest market?
Mulisha, for sure. They are an established brand now and are something people have wanted for a long time. You start to see that gain in a product like TwoTwo. This is only the first year of having his logo on footwear or things like that, so you see momentum starting to build. Chad really has the biggest advantage in being a part of Supercross and motocross, things that are televised, and have time to speak to a huge audience. Outside of X Games, guys like Jeremy and the Mulisha don’t have that opportunity. Those who know see they have a huge following on things like Instagram and Twitter. The momentum behind Chad’s comeback and his career, I think his stuff will really good. We have some exciting things coming with Jeremy and Famous, as well.
How is it to work alongside with Famous, which is a brand that already has a gigantic following in itself?
It is challenging at times when you are trying to figure out things like where the logos will go and how they will fit, but there is something about footwear that people are stoked to see their name or logo on. Everyone we get an opportunity to work with, whether it is a Famous or Musliha, the guys are genuinely excited to see their name on something like that. What will we do a lot of times with a brand like Famous is send a blank silhouette line drawing of the shoe to their designer, and we will see what their apparel line will look like for that season and then we start lining up logos and stuff. They will send their version of what they think, and then we get it here and put our touches on it, maybe change the material story, and go back and forth until we land on something. People are pretty stoked. Rockstar is another brand that we do things with and they are so stoked they are working on footwear for some reason. We send over our blank canvas to them and their art director geeks out on it. It’s fun to work with, because it’s not just putting a logo on a shirt.
What do you think sparked the movement towards a minimal shoe?
I think our world, trends start in skateboarding generally and that is something skateboarders have been doing for a long time with slimming down their pants and making the shoes slimmer, and it transferred over to surf. The two are closely related to begin with and you are now seeing moto, who is sometimes the stepchild that is left behind, catching up. I think the skate look has just gotten into the moto world, but it is hard to say because we are tainted by living in Southern California and are always seeing the trends in the action sports world. We can’t really read on it, but you can see guys going slimmer. It’s cool, because it is what I have always preferred anyways.
With something like Chad’s line, what will get more attention from the company: the shoe, which is the basis of the brand, or the shirts, which will probably sell more?
Footwear, for sure, it’s our baby. That is what the brand is founded on, so all of the attention goes to footwear, but we have an amazing apparel team that we are starting to highlight over the last couple of years by sponsoring guys head-to-toe in the skate and BMX programs. We are trying to start putting it out there more through them, but footwear is still the focus.
What is in store for 2013 and beyond?
We will be at all of the Nationals again next year, have more product with Chad coming out, Levi Sherwood has another shoe coming, we will be doing more with Twitch and Famous. That’s pretty much our year.