Words: Gerhard Gross
There's a fairly important idea in snowboarding that riders should have a measure of influence on the brands that sponsor them. It makes sense because the riders are living snowboarding every day, not viewing it through the prism of spreadsheets and office life. It brings some balance. The next logical evolution of that idea is for professional riders to start a brand themselves and have ultimate control of the look and feel of the products and direction of the company. Over the years a few riders have walked the tight-rope act of board brand management and pro career including DCP with YES, Gigi Rüf with Slash, and Jeremy Jones with Jones, to name a few. This year, Joe Sexton becomes the latest rider to throw his beanie into the ring when he launched Public.
Where did the idea to start Public come from?
I'd been riding for Stepchild for eight or nine years, something like that, and always knew I wanted to do something bigger. Watching Darrell [Mathes], Nima [Jalali], Mikey LeBlanc and all these guys start companies, I just always thought that was the coolest stuff. And the pinnacle for me was to always do a board brand, because I really like board graphics and I'm interested in the design of that. I like the freedom you can have with that, and I remember it never seemed attainable--it was always like "Oh yeah, it would be cool," but snowboards are so hard to do. So it came to the point where the stars just really lined up. I wanted to try to be one of those guys, that I looked up to, and I thought if it was ever possible it was now. I had a lot of help from Stepchild, they were really supportive of me getting it off the ground, and teaching me so many ins and outs. It's just been really exciting and it's challenging and really fun.
What's the story behind the design and shapes of the two boards that are currently in your line, the Therapy and Opinion.
I've never been a big gimmick guy, and the shape I always liked riding was just the classic nose and tail, no weird shape, nothing like that. I've ridden the same board shape for as long as I've been snowboarding, and so I didn't want to change that. On the flip side is Darrell Mathes and I wanted to build a board for him that he could ride as he transitions into more jumping, a bigger board for the backcountry and park. He came up with this nose shape that he really liked, and has a little more scoop for powder. It's a regular camber, which is classic, but it's a bit softer. The one I'm riding is a flat board with a little bit of reverse, but it's a bit stiffer. The two really play off each other.
Why did you want to make your board stiffer?
I never liked the look of the noodle boards, when you can tell people are riding a rocker board, and it's kind of flapping all over the place. This one is like, you do the nose press and actually sit it in there. You're not gonna go over the handlebars.
Do you and Mathes have pro models?
No one has a pro model, it's just kind of like "inspired by." The board I've been riding is the Therapy, the board Darrell's been riding is the Opinion.
Where did the name Public come from?
When I came up with the name Public, I really liked the idea of using that, whether it's the imagery on boards, or a jumping off point to connect with shops, connect with kids, connect with anyone that's just interested in what we're doing. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org. That's my personal email and every shop I tell them, "If you have any questions, hit me up." I've started a Tumblr called publicimpressions.com where kids can write in and ask questions about anything, it doesn't have to be about Public, it doesn't have to be about snowboarding. It's just a way that I thought was kind of cool to janswer questions and try to connect to the public.
How's the response been on that?
It's good. It's fun to answer them all, to write back to every single one of them. It's been cool to have kids ask about the brand, but then also just other funny stuff that they think, or "You should put this guy on." You know, kids can kind of give their input on anything.
Yeah, cool. Where are the boards made?
It's in the same factory that Stepchild uses. It's a really good factory called SBF, and the turnaround time is amazing. They're a new factory that Stepchild's been working with and it's been really good, the boards ride insane. Darrell's board, he loves it, and to film a trick on this board from a brand you started, and loving the board you're on, gives you goosebumps. You're just so psyched.
Where can people buy the boards?
They're distributed through Ultimate Distribution, and then we have a lot of other distributors that we've been talking to, all over the world. But go to a core shop, or email me at email@example.com and I'll get them in touch with the guy that can get it going.