Instantaneous Enlightenment

Awareness in Actions

It’s late one night in the present tense and while you aren’t looking, skateboarding sneaks out of its bedroom window and goes and does whatever the hell it wants to. But not for the reasons you’d expect, necessarily. You know, revolt, fuck the system, no one understands me, and all that. No, the real reasons lie within self-expression, discovery, and the belief that something else has to happen-anything else has to happen.

Northern California is the location of this sly skateboarding sedition-the one this article’s about, anyway-but it’s miles from the Northern California that usually comes to mind when considering the area’s skateboarding epicenter. Up a ways from “the city,” a stone’s throw from the chilly Pacific, and nestled sleepily in the woods of Humboldt County, there’s a tiny burg dubbed Trinidad by its forefathers and foremothers. A fortunate and conscious sharing of names with its Jamaican sister town, Trinidad, California is the happy home to the dreaded peddlers of wheels, hemp clothing, and a heart-felt skate-born philosophy, The Satori Movement.

“Location, location, location,” we’ve all heard hundreds of times, and that’s supposed to mean something in reference to the success of your business. Taking this mantra to heart was key to the rootsy beginnings of Satori. A couple years ago, after a little searching inside and out, Craig Nejedly and a couple like-minded individuals recognized that their big-city locale had to change. Nejedly calmly explains: “It’s pretty much impossible to afford living in San Francisco, much less get a business going. So we just kind of looked at Northern California options. We’re more Northern California oriented-just our lifestyle. We looked up here (Trinidad) ’cause we have friends here. It’s a small community, and actually there’re a lot of business development opportunities.”

After committing to the simultaneous call of the skate-wheel market and call of the north, thinking it felt right, the transplanted Nejedly, self-taught artist and Satori skater Lucian Moon, as well as Bryan Sturgill discovered that their adopted homeland was indeed the land of opportunity. “A month after we moved, we found out about these opportunities. We got a little loan from Redwood Region Economic Development Commission last July, and that’s when we really started jamming. It didn’t take much other than a vision, a goal, and motivation to get a loan up here. I had no credit card, I didn’t even have a bank account, no credit history-and they were way willing to work with us.”

Yes, all of this for the things on your board that make contact with the road. But with so many small wheel companies out there, and so many bigger and better-funded board manufacturers knocking out their own glorified casters, there has to be something that makes an endeavor such as Satori worth the effort, worth getting up in the morning, and worth the risk.

Serendipitously, Satori has just such worth and then some, and it’s right there within their name. “Simply,” Nejedly states, “Satori means awareness. Awareness in actions. It’s being in a state of pure action with a mindless flow of pure intention. It sounds so deep and hard to understand, but in relating it to skateboarding I always tell a little kid, ‘You’re going up to those nine stairs. When you roll up you have all these things going through your mind, but the moment your tail hits off the ground, all the thought is over and you’re in this state where you don’t have time to really think. If you think, it messes up the action.'”

Stumbled upon in the text of Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Satori and its philosophy come off as honest and fresh in the current atmosphere of skateboarding’s recycled reality. But signature wheel guy Jake Rupp is quick to add, “What it comes down to is that we all just love to ride our skateboards. We’re all human beings-we’re not trying to put ourselves up high or anything.”The idea-borrowedrom Japanese Buddhism-as well as the title of Millman’s book, appears to present a nice summation of this upstart wheel company. They also might help prop open some doors previously thought closed to skateboarding’s youth.

“When I was younger,” Nejedly muses, “skating brought me to so many different walks of life. It made me want to go to the city when I was like thirteen and check it all out. Of course, it was because I wanted to go skate, but in skating you’re opening yourself up to everything else that’s out there. Skateboarding is very beneficial for bringing that to people’s lives. Skateboarding makes you go out and do something. It’s not in a fence, so to speak. Across the board, through skateboarding, there’s a lot of open mindedness and a lot of opening of creative channels.”

Rupp further amends this line of thought: “When we skate, we meditate. We get to a higher level through our skateboarding, through our practice, and through our quietness of mind.”

Shop Talk

In every business story there’s the inevitable bottom line-that truthful point where product and reasoned doctrine meet the customer. This battleground is known as the skate shop, and if you can’t make it there, it’s doubtful you’ll make it anywhere.

Satori wheels and softgoods are available through most of the major distributors, so there’s a good chance that their wares have at least had a chance, if not a great reason, to make their way to the sales counters of most domestic shops. But even Nejedly says, “it seems like we (Satori) do best in urban settings-cities more than the suburbs. In San Francisco, Berkeley, New York, Atlanta, Miami, and the bigger cities, there’s more openness. There’s so much exposure to different ways of life in the city.”

One of the owners of Berkeley, California’s 510 Skate Shop, Jerry Harris, mirrors this explanation, “We get enough requests for it (Satori) that we have to have it. The stuff does well. It definitely appeals to a little bit older crowd. I’d say like late teens, early twenties.” Obviously the city vibration coupled with area skaters like Karl Watson, Lucian Moon, Jesse Hotchkiss, Jon Newport, and others representing the product helps a bit, too. “It just fits into a niche that was unfilled for a long time,” Harris spells out. “I think I Path, Satori, and similar companies just came along and appealed to those kids. Especially in Berkley and San Francisco-I know there are a lot of kids in that scene in the Bay area.”

But outside the larger metropolitan areas, dispensing the Satori exemplar might prove to be more difficult. Phil Burcher, owner of Lincoln, Nebraska’s Precision Skateboards, says, “Who they (Satori) typically sell to is someone who happens to walk in the door, and that wheel goes good with the board they’re picking out-which is irrelevant. Maybe (they sell Satori to) the tech guys or kids who are in the know.

“Here we’re dealing with having to explain skateboarding to people,” Burcher continues, “let alone some subsect of skateboarding marketing their wheels with Haile Selassie, like, ‘Who is this? What is this lion on here for?’ That’s the hard part about it-it’s such a niche. If you talk about a niche in skateboarding, you’re talking about something small, because skateboarding itself is such a small niche in places like Nebraska.”

What’s The Difference?

Certainly, there are a ton of small wheel companies out there fighting for limited shelf space, whether it be in big cities or smaller towns. So how does a tiny company like Satori define themselves from the rest of the pack and chisel out a place for themselves in the rocky face of the skate-wheel market? Nejedly confidently explains the company’s footing: “Uniqueness in everything that the company represents, with a more natural side-the Zen aspects of skateboarding on a creative level. Also, I think we’re the only company in the skate market that has a hemp jean and a hemp belt. As we can, we’re going to be offering some (more) different and innovative ideas.”

Satori also supplements their domestic, skate-shop foundation through strong foreign accounts (Japan, Italy, Switzerland, France, Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, and Ireland, among others) enabling them to invest the advanced international dollar into their business, supporting a more credit-based domestic scenario. That cash flow management solution along with one higher-profile softgoods account here in the U.S.-Urban Outfitters-has empowered Satori to stay in the game and spread their positive message in the process. “Being identified as a wheel company has made it a lot harder to sell softgoods.” Nejedly humbly states. “But through avenues such as Urban Outfitters-I think we’re the only skate company in Urban Outfitters, now-we’re getting into these big company aspects of doing business. Being such a small company, though, we have to be real resourceful.”

Fittingly, in their self-imposed woodsy exile, Satori resourcefully finds positives about their distance from the industry: “It kind of keeps us pure. We’re kinda up in our nook, doing our thing. We’ve skated for so long that we know our business. We can just do what we think is good for skateboarding in a positive way. And as isolated as we are, it’s been really good, because we love to travel. We get out there as much as we can.” (See sidebar.)

Yin With Yang

As positive and healthy as the Satori message is, most skaters know that the materials and methods skateboarding relies upon for its hardware aren’t necessarily favorable to the environment. Nejedly’s no exception and recognizes the “fallacy” in their approach. “Yeah, that is the biggest downer aspect of what we have to deal with-we’re aware and know that we produce something that is not very Earth-friendly. It’s the staple of our business, but as we solidify a stable business, we’ll be able to research ways to find a renewable avenue to bring the wheel into and also work on maybe using alternative oils and materials. It’s something that we’re daily coming up with new ideas to help fix.”

Refreshingly mindful of the negatives and positives of our industry’s youthful movement, Satori has honestly presented a different approach within an activity that has been built entirely upon different approaches. For that very reason, Satori transcends skateboarding’s corral, has been embraced by their like-minded brothers in arms, as well as the rest of society’s shunned seekers of fun, and has cleared the way for something else-anything else-to happen. “I get e-mails from more punk-rockish kids, along with the hippie kids,” Nejedly reports. “We’re not really leaving anyone out. We’re not down-pressing anything. We’re open for everything. Positivity is a genuine thing-it feels good to experience something positive.”

Satori Goes Home For The First Time

If anyone was going to spearhead the introduction of skateboarding to Jamaica, it was going to be Satori. Here’s what The Movement’s Craig Nejedly had to say about their mission to deliver skateboarding culture to the culture that has influenced their rhythms here in The States. -Kevin Wilkins

What was your motivation to make a skate trip to Jamaica?

In organizing the trip I was like, “Man, I lived in San Francisco. I know how many skateboards and wheels pile up in a closet.” Originally I had the idea of creating a board drive-we did it through FTC, actually-to try and start collecting used stuff. This goes back to how we produce wheels and how it sucks to produce wheels. I was trying to get people to give back those wheels, old boards, and trucks. Then we’d put them together and bring them to Jamaica. But Joey Tershay from Independent Trucks jumped in and got hyped on the whole deal. So I was like, “Let’s just bring all brand-new boards, not this garbage.”

Then it turned into a real big thing. Companies started kicking down boards and shoes and bearings. About fifteen major companies kicked in product. Adio and I Path contributede) different and innovative ideas.”

Satori also supplements their domestic, skate-shop foundation through strong foreign accounts (Japan, Italy, Switzerland, France, Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, and Ireland, among others) enabling them to invest the advanced international dollar into their business, supporting a more credit-based domestic scenario. That cash flow management solution along with one higher-profile softgoods account here in the U.S.-Urban Outfitters-has empowered Satori to stay in the game and spread their positive message in the process. “Being identified as a wheel company has made it a lot harder to sell softgoods.” Nejedly humbly states. “But through avenues such as Urban Outfitters-I think we’re the only skate company in Urban Outfitters, now-we’re getting into these big company aspects of doing business. Being such a small company, though, we have to be real resourceful.”

Fittingly, in their self-imposed woodsy exile, Satori resourcefully finds positives about their distance from the industry: “It kind of keeps us pure. We’re kinda up in our nook, doing our thing. We’ve skated for so long that we know our business. We can just do what we think is good for skateboarding in a positive way. And as isolated as we are, it’s been really good, because we love to travel. We get out there as much as we can.” (See sidebar.)

Yin With Yang

As positive and healthy as the Satori message is, most skaters know that the materials and methods skateboarding relies upon for its hardware aren’t necessarily favorable to the environment. Nejedly’s no exception and recognizes the “fallacy” in their approach. “Yeah, that is the biggest downer aspect of what we have to deal with-we’re aware and know that we produce something that is not very Earth-friendly. It’s the staple of our business, but as we solidify a stable business, we’ll be able to research ways to find a renewable avenue to bring the wheel into and also work on maybe using alternative oils and materials. It’s something that we’re daily coming up with new ideas to help fix.”

Refreshingly mindful of the negatives and positives of our industry’s youthful movement, Satori has honestly presented a different approach within an activity that has been built entirely upon different approaches. For that very reason, Satori transcends skateboarding’s corral, has been embraced by their like-minded brothers in arms, as well as the rest of society’s shunned seekers of fun, and has cleared the way for something else-anything else-to happen. “I get e-mails from more punk-rockish kids, along with the hippie kids,” Nejedly reports. “We’re not really leaving anyone out. We’re not down-pressing anything. We’re open for everything. Positivity is a genuine thing-it feels good to experience something positive.”

Satori Goes Home For The First Time

If anyone was going to spearhead the introduction of skateboarding to Jamaica, it was going to be Satori. Here’s what The Movement’s Craig Nejedly had to say about their mission to deliver skateboarding culture to the culture that has influenced their rhythms here in The States. -Kevin Wilkins

What was your motivation to make a skate trip to Jamaica?

In organizing the trip I was like, “Man, I lived in San Francisco. I know how many skateboards and wheels pile up in a closet.” Originally I had the idea of creating a board drive-we did it through FTC, actually-to try and start collecting used stuff. This goes back to how we produce wheels and how it sucks to produce wheels. I was trying to get people to give back those wheels, old boards, and trucks. Then we’d put them together and bring them to Jamaica. But Joey Tershay from Independent Trucks jumped in and got hyped on the whole deal. So I was like, “Let’s just bring all brand-new boards, not this garbage.”

Then it turned into a real big thing. Companies started kicking down boards and shoes and bearings. About fifteen major companies kicked in product. Adio and I Path contributed a lot and also gave us some finances. Element contributed, Organica, Independent, Think, Shorty’s, Black Label, Vans, DVS, Lakai, Climax Distribution, and NHS. Together they contributed 15,000 dollars’ worth of product-a total of 116 boards. We shipped it all down there, got the customs clearance, organized demos, and then we built the ramps-a five-foot by sixteen-foot mini ramp for our main event.

We tore it down the next day and made it into two mini ramps. We put one on the beach on the west side of Kingston and hauled the rest of the wood about 40 miles away to the east side of Kingston and built another mini ramp. So now there’re two mini ramps sitting on both the west and east sides of Kingston. Kids were dropping in on the first day-barefoot-just going for it.

So all your stuff was in Kingston?

We focused mainly on Kingston, but we covered about two thirds of the island, just going out skating and driving around and skating with kids in random places.

Billy Mystic (president of the JSA; a TV star; and leader of the reggae group, Mystic Revealers), he’s like a superstar down in Jamaica, got us linked up on the news-we were on all the major news stations. It was funny because after that we were all stars. Everywhere we went people were like, “Yeah, man. Skateboarder man. Saw you up on the TV this morning!” It was cool. Everyone was really super respectful, super happy.

Now that you’re back home, is there going to be a way to keep bringing skateboarding back to Jamaica?

Definitely. Our goal is to open a shop down there. And Billy Mystic is working with the government to try and get a subsidized skatepark down there where they can host a skate camp and fly a couple of Satori teamriders down to do clinics. We’re gonna go back in a year, actually, and chart the progress, so to speak. I’m sure it’s going to be really cool.uted a lot and also gave us some finances. Element contributed, Organica, Independent, Think, Shorty’s, Black Label, Vans, DVS, Lakai, Climax Distribution, and NHS. Together they contributed 15,000 dollars’ worth of product-a total of 116 boards. We shipped it all down there, got the customs clearance, organized demos, and then we built the ramps-a five-foot by sixteen-foot mini ramp for our main event.

We tore it down the next day and made it into two mini ramps. We put one on the beach on the west side of Kingston and hauled the rest of the wood about 40 miles away to the east side of Kingston and built another mini ramp. So now there’re two mini ramps sitting on both the west and east sides of Kingston. Kids were dropping in on the first day-barefoot-just going for it.

So all your stuff was in Kingston?

We focused mainly on Kingston, but we covered about two thirds of the island, just going out skating and driving around and skating with kids in random places.

Billy Mystic (president of the JSA; a TV star; and leader of the reggae group, Mystic Revealers), he’s like a superstar down in Jamaica, got us linked up on the news-we were on all the major news stations. It was funny because after that we were all stars. Everywhere we went people were like, “Yeah, man. Skateboarder man. Saw you up on the TV this morning!” It was cool. Everyone was really super respectful, super happy.

Now that you’re back home, is there going to be a way to keep bringing skateboarding back to Jamaica?

Definitely. Our goal is to open a shop down there. And Billy Mystic is working with the government to try and get a subsidized skatepark down there where they can host a skate camp and fly a couple of Satori teamriders down to do clinics. We’re gonna go back in a year, actually, and chart the progress, so to speak. I’m sure it’s going to be really cool.