I first came across Skeg Clothing> sometime last month and was immediately impressed with everything they had to offer. Their website looked extremely professional, and they had the products to back it up, but what surprised me most is that this company is run by 17 year old Jahl Herapath. In a time when most 17 year olds are working part time jobs, attending high school and not thinking much further than the weekend, Jahl has been planning on how Skeg can reach global domination status.
So let’s start with the nitty gritty; name, age, origin, and of course porn star name:
Hi I’m Jahl Herapath, I’m 17 years old and I grew up in the small town of Mission Beach in far north Queensland, Australia. If I was a porn star my name would probably have to be Dirk Diggler.
When and why did you decide to start Skeg?
The main reason ‘Skeg’ was started was because my friends and I really wanted to do something with our lives that we actually enjoyed doing. We didn’t want to work the typical 9-5 jobs or go to university to become a doctor or a lawyer, we were kids who enjoyed freedom and a care free lifestyle just being able to get out there and do what we want without a worry, it was the ultimate feeling for us. Hence creating a lifestyle of our own seemed like the best idea in the world! We were already sick of the unbearable fashion trends that were coming out in Australia and decided that we should be the ones to take a risk.
The initial idea for Skeg was first raised a few years ago between me and some of my close friends. It basically all started back when we were younger, after school and during the holidays we‘d all go down to local skate park and film all sorts of footage. It was an idea influenced and fuelled by the likes of Baker 3 and CKY. We were practically convinced we’d get famous out of it and spent each and every weekend filming countless hours of footage. The concept for ‘Skeg’ basically grew from there and we thought let’s start making t-shirts to wear in the footage so we look real legit! This idea however never really took flight and it wasn’t until sometime after then that my friend Zac Leonardi now the co-founder of Skeg, decided he wanted to start a clothing label after having the success of printing his own artwork on a t-shirt in art class. The original name for the line that Zac had suggested back then was ‘No Brain Function’ I myself didn’t really believe in the name so I proceeded to convince him otherwise with ‘Skeg’ a title originally thought up by another close friend Marco who used to call us ‘Skegs’ when we’d go skating.
We finally got our first real taste of production with a local printing company which involved a combination of tacky fonts and badly executed art design, thus the whole idea yet again essentially fell through partly due to our lack of experience and general funding. After this we basically went back to the drawing board once again and that’s when Zac decided to do a ‘gap year’ in the army which is basically a term used in Australia where you can go away for a year after school and basically train to be in the army whilst earning a reasonable amount of cash. At the same time I spent nights working endless hours at a local restaurant washing dishes to do my bit to help contribute to getting our idea off the ground. It wasn’t until about mid 2009 that we had the funds to start contacting designers and companies alike. Skeg basically expanded from this and along with the support from friends and family it officially launched on the 7th January this year.
Correct me if I am wrong but Skeg is basically aimed towards the skateboarding/streetwear crowd. There are some huge brands in that category, what do you think sets you guys apart and what is going to make you successful?
With Skeg we’re trying to stray from the pack and do something completely different from your average run of the mill skate brand, we don’t want to have a mass corporate feel about the whole thing we just want to stay true to the idea. We hope to maintain that skate lifestyle and be very accepting of everything around us with things like local visits to kids at skate parks and simply going there to get involved, skate and have a good time. One of the big things in the mix is that we plan to release a lot of limited edition clothing as I personally hate when you buy an awesome new shirt only to discover that you and every other person also owns it.
I really don’t come across that many indie clothing lines from Australia, does being from Australia tend to help or hurt you as a company?
Generally from starting out the only issue I’ve really faced is getting in touch with someone that can print our clothing at the standard we want it. So in terms of production that’s probably the only issue we’ve been facing at the moment. As for indie labels based in Australia it works quite well for us as the whole ‘indie clothing scene’ seems to be quite underground meaning that if you’re not really into fashion you aren’t going to find a whole lot out there. With that in mind it leaves us with a very open market in terms of places to stock our label because of the lack of known Australian indie labels being stocked in shops where I live. However my location is probably another factor on this though as I’m pretty sure if I approached the larger cities I’d find a lot more competition from brands I’ve never even heard of.
You have teamed up with some incredible artists; when you approached them with your ideas did you give them specific details as to what you wanted to see or did you leave it up to them?
Being an artist myself I had a very strong sense of what I was aiming for with each individual design thus in turn I essentially had quite a lot of detailed input into their process. However I wanted to work with each artist in a way that also ensured that they could still be free to express themselves and do what they wanted and liked.
What has been the most challenging part of running Skeg?
Probably online marketing as I’m not really experienced on that whole side of things. I’m slowly progressing by contacting t-shirt blogs and other sites alike but at this stage I’m guessing it’s going to be a long-term thing until we have some decent traffic to our site. The major downer is that there are very few Australian based clothing lines online thus making very little room for support and networking. This is why I really appreciate you guys for giving us the opportunity to be featured on your site, I am hoping this kind of publicity will help in terms of getting the word out about ‘Skeg’ on an international scale.
What are some brands that you have looked up to for inspiration?
Afends, Insight and Sixpack France would have to be the standout brands for our main sources of inspiration. I remember originally wanting to start our label and coming across Afends an Australian company who had basically already set a standard for what we initially wanted Skeg to be only we planned Skeg to be a little more fashionable than what they were doing. I was in fact bummed out that Afends already used Mike Bukowski as one of their artists as I’d been into his stuff for ages and really wanted to work with him for Skeg, however I didn’t want people to get the impression that we were copying Afends by using that particular artist.
For only being 17, you sure seem like you have your shit together! Is there anyone else that helps you run Skeg or is this a one man show?
Well to be honest I have in fact been running the whole show by myself for the most part, as my business partner/friend Zac has spent the majority of last year working in the army thus leaving him very little time to help out but he does with every opportunity he gets. Hopefully this year he’ll have more time to be able to lend a hand behind the scenes running the business. That’s pretty much all of the input that goes into Skeg aside from the legal side of things. With those kinds of issues I usually go running to Zac’s mum for advice and she lends a hand where she can. I also have a few friends that are competent writers and help in that area where needed but other than that it’s been a one man show for quite a while now.
What is your favorite thing about running a clothing line?
The sheer pleasure of seeing people actually wearing our label in public is definitely one of the kicks I get about running a clothing line, I also love receiving online orders and packaging them up with heaps of little goodies and surprises . In another big way art direction also gets me quite hyped up, just the whole aspect of being able to work with such renowned artists and share your own ideas for them to interpret is really enjoyable.
What can we expect from Skeg in the future?
In the future we plan to sway towards more ‘cut n sewn’ products with a higher sense of fashion in terms of illustration and overall branding. What you can definitely expect from our next range however is a much more obscured and sinister theme than what is already current. As for anything else well, let’s just say if I told you I’d probably have to kill you.
Any last minute shout outs?
Go check out The Medics they’re an awesome band that recently joined the Skeg family and I’m expecting big things from them in the future!
Check out the entire Skeg Line at: <a href=”http://skeg.bigcartel.com/”>skeg.bigcartel.com