Checking in on Natural Log Skateboards
By Natalie Jacobs
It’s been ten months since we told you about Thomas Brierton and Erik Nordgard’s company Natural Log Skateboards and their Kickstarter campaign that serves as its official launch. We thought it would be good to check back in with them now to see how their business is shaping up after raising $15,000 and getting some global exposure from the crowd funding site. In total, the team has been making a serious go of this hand-made skateboard business for a little more than two years, which, in the business world, isn’t a very long time.
“A lot of people say you don’t really make money the first three years,” says Nordgard, sales and marketing director for Natural Log. “You make money, but you don’t put it in your own pocket, you put it back into the business.”
With their Kickstarter money, Brierton and Nordgard mainly bought materials (wood, trucks, boxes for shipping) and tools (fancy table saws and equipment of that sort). The rest they’re putting toward marketing efforts like advertising in skate magazines, TransWorld Business and on Facebook.
Through the Kickstarter, they were able to get their name out there on a global scale, with contacts coming in from New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Austria and Norway. So far, they have their boards in shops in Canada, Norway and just a few in the United States. Here in San Diego, they are carried in Stonegrind and West Coast Rides, but they’re focusing on getting more.
“Most skate shops will carry our boards but the initial agreement will always be consignment,” says Nordgard. “The thing is, it would be better to have more presence. If it’s just two boards on a rack, it doesn’t really draw attention. But if it had it’s own rack [with Natural Log branding], that would be better.”
Now that people are starting to know their name, it’s time to make the hard sell. After the TransWorld Business full-page ad gets published, Brierton and Nordgard will get a list of all the stores that carry the magazine. From there, they’ll start making phone calls, sending out emails and following up like crazy. That might not be the sexy part of starting your own business, but it’s where most of the work lies.
The team has a more serious deadline on their hands too, with Nordgard’s student Visa running out in a matter of months. If the company isn’t viable by then, it won’t be able to sponsor his stay in the United States and he’ll have to move back to Norway.
“We work best under pressure,” Nordgard says.
In addition to focusing on selling their boards in retail shops, Brierton and Nordgard will start attending trade shows directed specifically at retailers. And after that, the sky’s really the limit. They have ideas for offering custom options through an enhanced website, and making limited-edition lines based on Brierton’s creative whims.
Keep an eye on their progress at http://www.naturallogskate.com/