Unabomber

Britain-based brand is building a following.

“As the cherubs of repose dollop your brow with the puckered promise of the world of dreams, and the lateness of the hour devours your extremities with the needlings of an empire far away from the everyday. Gather up your final ounce of resistance, scrub the slumber from your sockets and elect this company Unabomber to the place of prominence in the sensory landscape of your life. It will help you to grapple with the base instinct which keeps you in sync with the square world, and will be the vanguard of the violence vented when we vanquish ?Wake up to the impossible dream.’ The coma, the death-like state, which people pull over themselves like a blanket, and is to us a rehensible sic condition which must be obliterated.”

?Part II of the Gospel According to Unabomber

In an industry brimming with skateboard companies dominated by American-style economics that lie in the trenches of pseudo-corporate agendas, yes, even a skateboarder’s alleged roots and set of values can easily fall victim to the swirling vortex of capitalism.

And then there are companies like England’s Unabomber: genuinely committed to running a skateboard company?sincerely by, for, and of skateboarders?with an anti-corporate and pro-individualist agenda.

If skateboarding were a political spectrum, Unabomber would be hanging comfortably by its coattails on the left fringe.

“When you’re on the outside, you can see things in a different light from how everybody within might see it,” says Pete Hellicar, the founder and chief executive officer of the company.

“Unabomber was founded on the fourth of July, 1997?American Independence Day. It just ended up that way,” explains Hellicar. “We finished the business plan, and it just happened to tie into that. I’m not going to forget the fourth of July.”

The company’s mandate, entitled “The Gospel According to Unabomber,” was written by John Robson, Hellicar’s original business partner. In the Gospel, Robson described Unabomber as “The Best Skate Company Since Records Began.” Hellicar says he was forced to fire Robson after only eight months for?nicely put?not doing his work.

Asked what countries Unabomber is distributed in, Hellicar pauses, and in an official-ish manner replies, “The United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Norway, Finland,” adding with an air of nonchalance, “Oh yeah, and America.”

The company was originally financed rather creatively, explains Hellicar, “Initially with a loan of 10,000 pounds sterling from a friend who was running a successful business at the time?I thought. A year later, he was bankrupt?and so was I. At that point, everybody else who was supposed to be involved in the company shat their pants and left.

“I never personally went bankrupt. The parent company did, and left us with a considerable debt to them. I opened my mouth and looked dumb, bullshitted the liquidators, and was able to start from scratch again. We lost a lot of stuff but kept all the boards, so everyone had skateboards to keep going.”

Scotland’s Ali Low is Hellicar’s recently appointed assistant and a leading force in the Scottish Union of Skateboarders, a nonprofit grassroots organization established by group of Scottish skateboarders to represent every skateboarder in Scotland. Low explains, “The Union is a collective, a body, an organization owned, run, and motivated from the skateboarders’ point of view.”

“Over here, unions are what the working classes still see as their best chance for change and improvement to their situation,” he continues. Based on the premise of true unity within the collective, there is no hierarchy within the Union. “The union exists as a point of contact between skateboarders and the rest of this silly world. Councils, governments, businesses, authority, all need something they see as tangible to communicate wh. The Union is there to represent the needs of skateboarders as a united voice.”

The group enforces positive skateboard activism, such as attending municipal skatepark meetings, voicing concerns, and providing input in the areas of events and skatepark development. They also organize and hold fund-raisers of their own, as well as skateboard parties such as the Livi Pure Fun Skate Party, at the historic Livingston bowl every summer, the Beast of the North East in Aberdeen, and the Bristo Square Skate Jam in Edinburgh. The Union is a very positive force in the realm of skateboarding in Scotland. According to Low, “Ignorance is the enemy. The union needs to bridge this gap. It is committed to uniting skateboarders?it’s all about having fun, too.

Both Unabomber and the Union have a similar ideological relationship, admits Low, in the intent with which they were created: “To support and push a side of skateboarding that is under- and misrepresented. They Unabomber and the Union are both friends with everyone else. They both distance themselves from all the weird industry shit that goes on. They both cannot be bought out. They both have the support of the skateboarders. They both have ‘Un’ at the start.”

Low speaks of Unabomber with the same admiration and passion as Hellicar. “I guess if you look at the team, the skaters who ride for us wouldn’t ride for anyone else,” says Low. “They wouldn’t fit. They came together, and the company was born?it’s not like the company was formed and people were dragged on. It’s not a boy band?it’s a real band. We’re not Steps, we’re Black Sabbath.”

The scope of the company’s minimalist marketing campaign is only equaled in its effectiveness establishing Unabomber’s identity, as is the owners’ disillusionment with the dynamics and corruptive forces of capitalism. Of the growth of the company, Hellicar says, “We’ve never deviated from the path, ever. I think it’s just matured. It’s never really grown. We’ve had the logo, and instead of growing, we’ve just been bubbling along nicely. There’s only so much we can do with what we have.”

Hellicar is relatively content with the pace the company has been developing at, understanding that their objectives are not to take over a market but to nurture the niche they support and that supports them. It takes not just a certain type of skateboarder, but rather, a certain type of thinker to support Unabomber.

Hellicar describes the whole relationship between Unabomber and its supporters as a learning process. “A kid can go buy any T-shirt, think about it, and look at it, and realize how wrong it is. For instance, the British Empire: How dare someone go into a country and stick a flag in it and say it’s theirs!

“You put a beautiful picture graphic on a skateboard, you go down the street and hit a rail, and rub the picture off?although some remnants of it stay. The world is a bleak thing, and little things like Unabomber make it less bleak and more bearable.

“Kids are timid and inquisitive. I was inquisitive as a kid. I just want kids to ask questions,” says Hellicar.

Low adds that it’s the curiosity of kids Unabomber wants to nurture in their Web site, which is currently being developed.

“There’s so much disinformation, and we’ve all been fed it,” says Hellicar. “The whole system is completely meaningless. We’ve all been spoon-fed. Many people thought Unabomber was an anti-American reaction. And it’s not that it’s about everything that’s wrong?it’s more for everything that’s right.”

Many people thought Unabomber was based on the misadventures of American terrorist Theodore Ted Kaczynski, named the Unabomber by the FBI. Kaczynski felt isolated from the world around him and sent bombs to a number of places throughout the United States for almost two decades until he published his manifesto in the New York Times and Washington Post. The discourse was recognized by his brother David, and soon after, Kaczynski was arrested by the FBI at his cabin in the woods of Montana. As the story of the infamous Unabomber unfolded, masses of people all over the world became completely enthralled with his marginal existence. Hellicar seems to be enthralled with Kaczynski’s lifelong intellectual and moral pursuit. And that is what appears to have initiated the idea to use Unabomber as a name for the company.

Hellicar explains how things are really all relative to ones personal interpretation, even with Unabomber?it is what one perceives it to be. “If you look at the name Unabomber, it’s not a name he Kaczynski gave himself?it’s the name the FBI gave him. Just the fact that he never called himself the Unabomber, but rather that’s what he was called,” says Hellicar.

Low agrees. “I love the name. A lot of people say its a real volatile name to give a company, but I love it.”

As to whether Unabomber is a British company or a skateboard company, Hellicar is quick to reply, “It’s conceived in Britain, and it takes part in Britain. People don’t understand us in the States, and that’s what keeps us going.”

In the past year, Unabomber has begun to develop its foreign distribution. Hellicar notes, “We’ve started distributing in the U.S. and Japan over the last six months. Foreign sales have been slow, but nothing is going to happen overnight.”

In Britain where there is much support for the company, sales have been steadily gaining strength. “Slam City is our sole distributor in the UK” explains Hellicar. “Unabomber is big all over the UK,” explains Hellicar. “We sell a lot of stuff.”

Another interesting point about Unabomber is that the company doesn’t advertise much. Hellicar estimates that since the company started five years ago, they haven’t had more than fifteen ads in magazines. The two most recent Unabomber ads are the company-logo masked gimp simply stating, “Hello,” and another ad for their latest video Headcleaner.

Hellicar admits both ads were concept ads?not skateboard ads. “I don’t necessarily think that advertising is the best thing,” he says. “All it really says is we’re still here,” he says.

One of the major challenges Unabomber has been confronted with along the way is remembering its role and intent. Hellicar points out his major challenges: “Head-loss frustration ?and constantly battling between being a skateboarder and being a businessman.”

To that, Low adds, “Keeping it real, rather than keeping it wrong.”

What makes Hellicar such a unique character in the panorama of skateboarding is his unadulterated willingness to remind himself and everyone else why he is doing what he does. Hellicar is happy he hasn’t lost focus with the company, or become jaded with skateboarding. “Getting involved in something can kill any passions one might have,” he says. “I just want to make sure I keep happy.” Likewise, he regards Unabomber’s greatest accomplishment to date as simply, “Keeping happy, and making sure I keep happy and motivated to skate.”

People like Hellicar are hardly dime a dozen. In an era swamped with company mandates dictated by the lure of capitalism and the free-market economics it entails, the sheer stamina of companies such as Unabomber, whose existence is entirely determined by the ever-evolving state of society?both culturally and politically?is rare.

Companies like Unabomber don’t intend to become a conglomerate, or renounce their values by selling out to an indifferent set of investors. To the contrary, they are content living within their means?”bubbling along nicely,” as Hellicar would say.

Hellicar seems perfectly content making a comfortable living doing what he believes in, having his daily lunch of pie, chips, and mushy peas?and of course, a cup of tea.

course was recognized by his brother David, and soon after, Kaczynski was arrested by the FBI at his cabin in the woods of Montana. As the story of the infamous Unabomber unfolded, masses of people all over the world became completely enthralled with his marginal existence. Hellicar seems to be enthralled with Kaczynski’s lifelong intellectual and moral pursuit. And that is what appears to have initiated the idea to use Unabomber as a name for the company.

Hellicar explains how things are really all relative to ones personal interpretation, even with Unabomber?it is what one perceives it to be. “If you look at the name Unabomber, it’s not a name he Kaczynski gave himself?it’s the name the FBI gave him. Just the fact that he never called himself the Unabomber, but rather that’s what he was called,” says Hellicar.

Low agrees. “I love the name. A lot of people say its a real volatile name to give a company, but I love it.”

As to whether Unabomber is a British company or a skateboard company, Hellicar is quick to reply, “It’s conceived in Britain, and it takes part in Britain. People don’t understand us in the States, and that’s what keeps us going.”

In the past year, Unabomber has begun to develop its foreign distribution. Hellicar notes, “We’ve started distributing in the U.S. and Japan over the last six months. Foreign sales have been slow, but nothing is going to happen overnight.”

In Britain where there is much support for the company, sales have been steadily gaining strength. “Slam City is our sole distributor in the UK” explains Hellicar. “Unabomber is big all over the UK,” explains Hellicar. “We sell a lot of stuff.”

Another interesting point about Unabomber is that the company doesn’t advertise much. Hellicar estimates that since the company started five years ago, they haven’t had more than fifteen ads in magazines. The two most recent Unabomber ads are the company-logo masked gimp simply stating, “Hello,” and another ad for their latest video Headcleaner.

Hellicar admits both ads were concept ads?not skateboard ads. “I don’t necessarily think that advertising is the best thing,” he says. “All it really says is we’re still here,” he says.

One of the major challenges Unabomber has been confronted with along the way is remembering its role and intent. Hellicar points out his major challenges: “Head-loss frustration ?and constantly battling between being a skateboarder and being a businessman.”

To that, Low adds, “Keeping it real, rather than keeping it wrong.”

What makes Hellicar such a unique character in the panorama of skateboarding is his unadulterated willingness to remind himself and everyone else why he is doing what he does. Hellicar is happy he hasn’t lost focus with the company, or become jaded with skateboarding. “Getting involved in something can kill any passions one might have,” he says. “I just want to make sure I keep happy.” Likewise, he regards Unabomber’s greatest accomplishment to date as simply, “Keeping happy, and making sure I keep happy and motivated to skate.”

People like Hellicar are hardly dime a dozen. In an era swamped with company mandates dictated by the lure of capitalism and the free-market economics it entails, the sheer stamina of companies such as Unabomber, whose existence is entirely determined by the ever-evolving state of society?both culturally and politically?is rare.

Companies like Unabomber don’t intend to become a conglomerate, or renounce their values by selling out to an indifferent set of investors. To the contrary, they are content living within their means?”bubbling along nicely,” as Hellicar would say.

Hellicar seems perfectly content making a comfortable living doing what he believes in, having his daily lunch of pie, chips, and mushy peas?and of course, a cup of tea.

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