A Q&A with BrickHarbor’s Chase Whitaker. The Boston–based company launched earlier this month.
SUB: Please describe what BrickHarbor is, and the value proposition you bring to skateboarding.
Whitaker: Brick Harbor is a web based retail shop designed by skateboards for skateboarders of all experience levels. We host product from house hold skateboarding names as well as many up and coming, limited, and hard to find hard and soft goods brands. We host an amazing team with some of the most well respected professionals and amateurs in the game. Our “news” section is an unbiased media platform for all things skate related.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Whitaker: Our target demographic is males 15 [and up] still skateboarding. However, we welcome anyone interested in skateboarding on any level. From the kid picking up his first board, to the adults who work 40 hours just to be able hit the skate park on the weekends, we have something for you. Skateboarding is such a positive force that we encourage anyone who is interested to pursue it infinitely.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition? What differentiates BrickHarbor from the competition?
Whitaker: There are many places online and in malls to purchase skateboards. We aim to have an edgier, well- educated yet competitively priced selection that sets us apart from other retailers.
Every item on our site was hand-picked by our staff, all of whom have been life-long skateboarders. We have a firm understanding of trends and have seen many come and go. There is a lot of attention to detail that comes into every decision we make, and part of that process is rooted in being actual skateboarders.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Whitaker: ‘If you build it, they will come’ works, but not necessarily as quickly as we’d like. While we do have a large marketing push in place for back to school, building an A+ team of infamous legends and young veterans has certainly helped legitimize Brick Harbor. Putting out YouTube edits to keep the name on peoples’ screens certainly helps as well.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for BrickHarbor? Was there an “aha” moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Whitaker: It was more of a gradual development. Karmaloop knew they wanted to launch a full skate site for some time, but knew they needed the right internal team to do it. In late 2012 we all finally aligned and collectively put a vision behind it, a vision of just doing it the right way, in a way that anyone who skates or has skated can relate to the site and product in some way shape or form no matter what their age or background is. There was a lot of work that went into picking the team and product and layout aesthetic. When everything came together, our vision of a one stop shop for legitimate skate product and relevant information had a home.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Whitaker: The biggest obstacle is also probably also the most fun to navigate. The internal Harbor team is firstly “uptight” skateboarders, so getting us all to cohesively agree on anything is a nightmare. However it’s this nit-picking attention to detail that results in a streamlined, organized, aesthetically comprehensive online shopping experience.
SUB: The site recently launched to the public. Why was this a particularly good time to launch?
Whitaker: Spring is the time of year that every skateboarder looks forward to. Whether they be new riders or seasoned veterans, Spring and Summer are the seasons for skateboarding. [There are] a lot of new product releases around this time. The professional side of skateboarding flourishes at this time every year with lots of videos being released and tours happening across the country. All of this promotes product and keeps skaters everywhere engaged. It is skate season worldwide, similar to baseball, football, or hockey season.
SUB: Do you plan to raise outside funding in the near future?
Whitaker: There’s no set plan of outside funding at this time.
SUB: What are your goals for BrickHarbor over the next year or so?
Whitaker: We are going to keep at what we are doing and continue to support brands that we love and promote the things that have kept us involved in skateboarding for our entire lives. Our goal is to make Brick Harbor a permanent destination for skateboarding. Whether users are shopping current product or just want to check out our news section to see content from our riders and keep up to date with all things skate-related, they can do it all at BrickHarbor.
BrickHarbor – www.brickharbor.com