Chapter 3. HEY KID, WANT TO BUY A HOODIE?: Risking our homes to make t-shirts and hats


Mr. Tony Hawk,

Obviously you have hit on something with these pre-teen kids here in Florida. The shorts with the key chain skateboard are as hot as the pony on the Lauren polo shirts. I really appreciate you for being successful in your chosen field of endeavor. Capturing these preppy kids at an early age can only lead to continued financial and personal success.

By the late 1990s, my sisters, brother, and I all had children of our own, ranging in age from 2 to 15. Anytime we got together, and we got together a lot, there was a gaggle of young cousins underfoot. Of course, being neck-deep in the surf-skate culture, we liked to dress our kids up to look like mini-rippers. But it wasn't easy. Most of the stuff for the under-12 set was of the goofy OshKosh-Gymboree variety, designed to make them look like dress-up dolls instead of little humans.

A few surf companies, like Quiksilver, Rusty, and Billabong, had obligatory youth lines, but none of the core skate companies did. They worried they'd risk alienating their hypercool teenage customers by catering to munchkins whose favorite thing to do with a skateboard was turn it upside-down and spin the wheels. The coolest kids' clothes we found were made by a little-known start-up company called Modern Amusement, but they were pricey.

In 1997, California got hammered by storms thanks to the ocean-warming phenomenon known as El Niño, which means "the child" ...

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