Get Born jumped the Atlantic to the UK to talk to Tom Frayne of FURR Skateboards, an independently owned DIY skate company. FURR is unlike anything you’ve seen before with all their apparel made by their own hands, and a sick team of skateboarders and artists combined. Based out of Swansea, South Wales, the FURR team brings unique and interesting shit to the table. Tom told us all about the process of starting a company with his homies and how he wouldn’t have done it any other way. All their art, products, and information is online for your purchasing pleasure at www.furrskateboards.com
Swansea, is described as having an incredible community for skating and surfing by Tom. Although Swansea is his hometown, Tom recently moved to London for a new adventure.
Where are you based out of? What is it like where you grew up?
We are based in Swansea, South Wales. Although, I have recently moved to London for an adventure, Rhys and I talk everyday about new ideas, nothing has changed. Easy peasy. Where I grew up in Swansea, it’s great! It has lots of, not so sunny, beaches and a great skate and surf scene. There are skaters that surf, surfers that skate, and everyone is very welcoming of each other. I currently live in London, Not so many beaches here, lots of concrete waves though!
Describe your first board
My first board was the best. It was completely shapeless and soaked up all of the rain water from leaving it out in the garden that it made it comfortable to sit on to roll down hills. So as you can imagine, it was quickly replaced when I started to learn tricks. I think it was made by a company called “United Skates” and it had a big old “United Skates” logo on top. It had some crazy, colourful graphic of an eye on the bottom. It was really cool!
What is special about the skate community you are apart of?
As I grew up in Swansea, the skate community there is still the closest thing to my heart. There are a few little run down skateparks around the place and a really cool indoor skate park, run by my friend Ric. All the skaters are super chilled and generally cool people. In London I’m just the little fish in the big pond. The dudes I’ve met up here are great though- getting me involved in the scene as much as they can
If you could skate any location in the world, where would it be?
Those wavey, marble ledges in Shenzhen China. That place looks so fun!
FURR began while Frayne was on tour with co-founder Rhys Pillai’s band in Germany when the ideas began to flow. Rhys was a screen printer and Tom, working at the local skate store, combined forces to bring together common favourite artists. “FURR was a way to create a platform for our, under-appreciated artist friends to showcase their work on”.
How did you start FURR? Can you tell us the story behind the name and company?
Furr all started whilst on tour with Rhys’s band in Germany. We’d had a few cans of beer and the ideas started pouring out of our brains. Rhys was a screenprinter at the time and I was working at the local skate store. We decided to work closely with some of our favourite local artists and see what we could all come up with. FURR was a way to create a platform (and the sexiest type of platform, the skateboard) for our, under-appreciated, artist friends to showcase their work on.
There is no real story behind the name itself. We wanted to use a word that didn’t have particular meaning, but that we could create our own meaning in, that was memorable.
What is the hardest thing about running your own company?
Money! There isn’t much money involved in independent, skater owned, DIY companies. But, we never started this for the money. Working in the construction industry, I can’t afford to injure myself. If I do, it means I cannot work. FURR is the perfect way to keep me in the skate scene without having to skate all the time! I do still skate pretty much everyday still.
Tom says the toughest thing about running your own business is money, or lack thereof. But thankfully Tom is in it for pure passion. Their main focus now is to build a bigger artist base and to make their products more accessible to people other than primarily skaters.
Where do you hope to see FURR go in the future?
Our focus is to discover more artists to build a bigger artist base. Then we can continue to develop our products and also hold more exhibitions. We hope our products are accessible to everyone, not just skateboarders. We are also constantly planning new trips away with our team to film, so we can continue to release videos
Why do you think it’s important to integrate artists and skateboarders on your website?
It just makes sense, right? Every time I’ve seen a board graphic I’ve loved, the first thing I’ve done is try to find out who designed it. There are too many artists out there who are under-appreciated and I hope that by working with as many as possible, naming them and by giving them a profile, it might help get them out there.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
To be completely honest, there isn’t much we would have done differently. Everything mainly has gone to plan. But, if I had to choose something it would be for my partner, Rhys to not have let me screenprint the clothing on my own. I now own a lot of misprinted clothing!
In your opinion, what are the key elements to starting a successful skate company?
Have fun, work hard, trust your instinct and don’t take the business side too seriously. I disagree with mixing business with pleasure too much.