It’s been too long since I featured someone who works for themselves doing what they love so today I bring you a good friend of mine, namely Gerard Watts who owns and runs Ekta Skateboards out of his home in Cornwall, UK.
How did you come about developing your own skate company? Was it something that you always wanted to do? Or did it just grow organically out of your love for skating?
I used to ride for FSU skateboards and Wheels back in 2003 – 2006 which was great, but the quality of the boards they were producing started to lack in quality and then some times, you wouldn’t receive any for such a long period of time.
I ended up quitting and was kind of in limbo, for a while, trying to work out what the hell to do.
One of my mates tried to do his own brand, but never really pushed it and I was thinking about doing a wheel company at the same time. Due to knowing people in the UK industry, I started to get some info about where to get samples from etc and slowly started to see if it was possible. To do a company how I thought it should be run, by not making the same mistakes FSU did with poor quality products.
So it kind of grew from there, but it isn’t something you can just do lightly, even getting samples is a nightmare and they ain’t free. Then everything spiraled out of control to where it is now. But it’s taken a lot of time and effort over the past 4 years.
And I’ve not even started yet.
Where did it all start?
I’ve always had a skateboard, weather it be a crappy thing that was useless back in my childhood and then kinda getting into it and begging my parents to get me a better one, as the years went by; as more and more of my friends started skating.
But back then, we didn’t know what we were doing. It was on and off for years growing up, as we used to do what all kids did and play football, going fishing etc and then finally got into it. All thanks to Jimmy Boyce and Ziggy, from hooking me up with boards to showing me 411vm.
You film your team skating and have done film studies at college, how do these skills help your company to grow / get a foot in the market?
I try not to film anymore, I’m more happier editing, but I will film when required.
No idea, to be honest, skateboarding is one weird industry as shit changes all the time, with what’s good and what’s bad trick wise and production wise.
I have a certain stance when it comes to how I want things to look, so my editing style has possibly shaped things more in that sense.
What do you think sets you apart in the current market?
We don’t have a set image, so we’re pretty much free to do what ever we want, with graphics and general direction, so that’s one thing. With the brand being around now for a few years, is always a good point and helps to keep us different.
But we try to do what everyone else isn’t doing.
How has the company grown since you started it?
The team has gotten bigger and we’re now in more stores across the entire UK and the website is getting checked out from all over Europe, but this is all down to getting shit out on the WWW and advertising in magazines. It’s grown in other ways, that it’s now actually official, we have a real bank account and an accountant to make sure that the tax man is happy.
Where do you want the company to go from here?
Just to continue in expanding year on year, I’m doing this slowly but surely as if you try and rush something, it’ll usually blow up in your face. But realistically to continue on the path it’s on now, as it’s getting more and more recognition and that’s great.
To keep on building up the distribution is one thing that I’ll be working on for the next few years.
Do you ever wish you had a 9-5?
I do, the UK scene isn’t in a strong enough condition to allow me to do this full time, so having a job is a deadcert way to be able to bail things out when shit hits the fan.
Hopefully once this supposed recession is over, everything will go back to normality.
What do you love about being your own boss?
That if anything goes wrong, I’m the one to blame and it’s no one else’s fault.
But it also means, I can just get on with it without worrying about someone not doing their job.
What would you say are the key things you need to be able to have/do to go it alone?
Caffeine and nicotine and being used to long days and nights working away, and to understand that this isn’t something that’ll work over night, in some instances it can but then, you have to be prepared for the flop, if you’re used to the good times; this shit takes years. But truthfully a damn good work ethic and to be prepared to take risks that may not pull off, and be ready to deal with the aftermaths!
What are you grateful for?
All the support from the stores and everyone who’s ever supported the company.
What would you like more of in your life?
More days in the week and better weather to be able to go out and skate, and a holiday.