Interview with Maker & Designer of Bear Walker Skateboards
I had the privilege to speak to Bear Walker, maker and designer from Alabama who creates handmade and custom skateboards. Walker is a famous name in Hollywood; he has designed custom decks for A-list Hollywood celebrities such as Jason Momoa (Aquaman), pop superstar Billie Eilish, Grant Gustin (CW’s The Flash), the cast of Warner Bros. Studios’ horror hit IT, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian Sr.
Bear is a big believer in giving back and plants 2 trees for every board sold. He has also worked to create boards for charitable events such as working with actor Zachary Levi (Shazam) to create boards that were raffled off to raise money for Covenant House.
CAN YOU PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF, AND ABOUT HOW YOUR BRAND BEAR WALKER SKATEBOARDS COME INTO EXISTENCE?
I grew up a surfer. As life went on and I got further away from the ocean and different places that I’ve lived, I really started getting more into cruising. I went to Clemson University for a graphic design degree and designed my first few skateboards while I was there for a project. When I was working at a sign-making company after college, I was doing a lot of wood carving for signs and realized it was a pretty good texture for grip. So, that is when I made my first skateboard with the grip that is somewhat what we do now. That was in 2012/2013 and we’ve been just improving and innovating the product ever since.
DID YOU START THE VENTURE ALONE?
For the most part I started on my own. I had a company where I had business partners and that was a big reason why I failed. So it was really important for me on this next round to save up and start it up on my own. Once I had the main foundation in place, I met a good friend who ended up becoming a business partner and he’s helped out a lot with strategy and some of the business side of things.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART IN THE EARLY STAGES OF BRAND BEAR WALKER SKATEBOARD’S GROWTH?
I really think just figuring yourself out. Like who am I? What do I stand for? What is my style? What’s my price point? What’s my demographic? Basically figuring out if you’ve made something cool or if you have a good idea, that’s really just the backbone to it. You have to make it a legit business and figure out what price people would buy at and who you’re trying to appeal to and what you as a business and a business owner stand for.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS YOU’VE LEARNED AS A STARTUP FOUNDER?
Basically, its okay to ask for help but heavily rely on yourself. No one is going to have the passion and drive you do for your thing, so you’re going to put the most attention to detail into it and you’re going to care more that its done in the proper way than anyone else. So yeah, just being okay with doing it yourself and having the confidence to do things yourself and not rely heavily on others.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR YOUR BRAND THIS YEAR?
I want to open up an LA shop and we’re also building up our new headquarters which is really exciting. But yeah, just getting newer and bigger collaborations.
HOW IMPORTANT IS PERSONAL BRANDING, AND WHAT DO YOU DO TO GROW YOUR BRAND? WHAT YOU THINK, DO YOUR PERSONAL BRAND BENEFIT YOUR BUSINESS?
I can’t speak for other companies, but my name is legit the company, so personal branding was huge. Thought definitely went into it but the most important thing was being authentic and really leaning into more things that I like and interacting with my following and it being a collaboration with me and my followers and my clients, as opposed to just trying to appease everybody.