cracks knuckles, bunkers down, and clears throat Okay, lets do this the right way.
First and foremost, your feeling on the situation you were dealt is valid. I don’t blame you for feeling frustrated with the end result, and honestly I can really relate to this thread a lot more than I thought I would be able to.
So let me tell y’all why.
Years ago when I first started fingerboarding I was just a kid, as many of us were too when we started this adventure. At that young age, I didn’t understand how proper “sponsorships” worked with companies. I knew I liked fingerboards, I knew I didn’t have easy means of paying for them, and I knew sponsored people got free fingerboard stuff.
Sure it was rudimentary, but really we all started there one way or another when learning this stuff for the first time.
So soon I was off to the rat race of trying to find a sponsorship, and thankfully in my case I didn’t hound companies but rather I tried to get better at fingerboarding. And I tried. I tried and I tried and I tried. Then before long, I hated trying. I wasn’t having fun, I was running myself in circles trying to force myself to get better for a goal I was starting to dislike. So I stopped.
In my case, around the time I stopped trying so hard to get better at riding, my dad had convinced me to try just making them instead.
Despite the rocky relationship I have with him now, I will never be able to thank him enough for believing in me and to support me trying to do something that made me happy.
Moving on, years passed and I forgot about trying so hard to “get gud” and as time went on, I did progressively get better at deck making. Started with clamped tech decks and aircraft wood, moved to bondo molds and cheap veneer, and before long I had started to gain traction with my Instagram account I had been posting my projects to so I could keep record of them.
Time passed further, my skills changed and improved, I had better resources as I was soon entering adulthood and getting into the real world. As I upgraded to proper and “professional” equipment, things took a turn for me and a personal friend of mine had started a concrete obstacle company and was gaining rapid traction with it as well. I bought stuff from their early stocks, and soon he approached me with the offer of a spot on his team. I was surprised and excited, I had gotten what I tried so hard years ago to get… and honestly it was a nice thing.
But there were no bells ringing out, there was no confetti shooting up into the air. It was a quiet victory, and while I enjoyed it and am beyond thankful for the opportunity I had been given, it was a humbling experience more than anything.
But here’s the thing, that’s not the story that really sat me down and taught me a lesson. No that story involves a young kid that had been just like me, and had started building decks with a different approach.
Let’s call him Eric, his company was titled Flatline FB. He had gotten one of the gatormold shapes, a bit of veneer and the needed tools, and before ya knew it he had cranked out a couple decks. He even picked out some people to sponsor, and honestly kudos to him for taking that type of initiative! It was unfortunate that of the three people he chose, I was the only one of the three that didn’t have a deck sponsorship already and could accept the offer.
Now see here’s the thing about the situation though. I was already a decent deck maker by this point, it was shortly after I had gotten my first sponsorship as well. But upon talking with Eric about it, he seemed insistent on me at least trying the board out and I wasn’t going to be the person to turn down someone so hopeful. So a little while later, I received a small bubble mailer with my name written onto the front in pen.
Opened it up, and there contained within were three items. One deck, one sticker, and one notecard. “Hey Brandon, welcome to the team! -Eric”. To put it simply, it was a simple package and initially I thought that it was a nice gesture and thoughtful… but that’s when it hit me. I could look this deck over, I could find it’s flaws, give critique, and go through the routine of looking at the work of a beginner craftsman from a maker’s angle. But to what end would that result in, when this little deck in my hands would have not only blown the mind of that younger version of myself that was sat at a desk trying hopelessly to improve, but more importantly was something that another person cared about. It was a deck that Eric worked on and wanted me to have, it was a gift and a gift holds no flaws and needs no critique.
And even though he went on to lose interest in deck making and eventually leave the fingerboarding scene, I still have that deck he made for me.
The story still holds, the work he put into it still stands, and the importance of it still matters.
I realized in that moment that it wasn’t that I wanted a sponsorship at young age, or that I even wanted free things really. I wanted to make a difference, and I wanted the work I was doing to matter.
Let’s level, I’m not saying that people need to go out and just make things for themselves to be happy. I’m not saying “just wait for sponsorships to find you”. And I’m not saying that my long story here is the answer everyone needs to see in order to be content with not having a sponsor for fingerboarding. There’s still a part of me that is that little kid sitting at his desk in his room, doing one attempt after another in hopes that I’ll eventually be good enough at fingerboarding to ride for some of the companies I’ve always looked up to.
What I am saying is that there are many different ways things can go, and in the pursuit of sponsorships I realized I enjoy making decks as much as I like riding them. In the end for me, I can enjoy that and share it with others the way I wanted others to share their work with me.
Take the time to understand why you enjoy doing what you do. Make your effort worth it.