Being interviewed by the legend Michael Brooke for Concrete Wave Magazine, now that’s a stoke!
It has been our pleasure to be working with Michael and Concrete Wave for the past year or so. Michael has been skating and sharing the culture and stoke of skate through his captivating articles for decades. To have the opportunity to be interviewed by this legend and for Concrete Wave is rad. Chad Sandiford was even more excited to get to delve a bit deeper into the life of Michael Brooke with some questions of his own to see what has led Michael to becoming a legend in the sport around the world.
Questions for Chad Sandiford: Third Kind™ skateboard lights
Tonight daylight savings ends. This means more people are going to be using your lights earlier? What are your thoughts?
I, like most, have always dreaded the end of daylight savings. To get dark around 6pm is just too early to stop being able to see. But ever since creating Third Kind skate lights the setting of the sun can’t come soon enough; it means the hot sun of the day has retreated giving us bearable riding temperatures (in Florida) and less traffic. With Third Kind I know I’m lit and visible and I know everyone else riding my lights shares the same stoke. I have heard countless times from riders with my lights that they can’t wait for the sun to set so that they can go skate with their Third Kind lights. The end of daylight savings gives these riders that much more play time and that is a total stoke!
How did you come up with the idea of Third Kind?
The idea for Third Kind came from a culmination of a few sources but I can attribute the spark to a couple of friends; Ryan Stewart and Chelsea Brito. I had seen garage projects before on the internet, but after meeting them and seeing the rig in person we started thinking and designing mini assembly lines to “mass produce” the “garage model” which simply included a 9V battery, some wires, solder, glue and an over the counter LED strip.
I soon realized there had to be a better way. I had to design and create a product that would easily mount to any board and handle the riggers of skateboarding. To be a successful product and brand I had to produce a patentable product that could be mass produced and mass marketed.
How did you come up with the name?
The name was the hardest part, it came from my mom’s favorite movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind because of the out-of-this-world look the lights create. You truly look and feel as if you are riding a spaceship or a hoverboard.
What is one key thing you’d like to tell retailers who are out there and wondering if they should carry the lights in their shop?
One? Oh my, there are dozens. Oh, I know THEY SELL THEMSELVES! It is not like trying to push a board, wheels or bearings where there are hundreds of options and the ones that sell are backed by significant marketing budgets. Our product speaks for itself, just turn it on in your shop and watch your customers be drawn to them just like flies to a bug light. We have had shops sell over 100 of our lights in a single month! And that was just the original model that came in a ziploc plastic bag.
When people tell you the lights have save their life, how does that make you feel?
Proud and motivated. When creating the lights safety was not even a thought in my head; I did it because they look so darn cool. They are the closest thing to looking and feeling like Marty McFly on his hoverboard. It was not until a few months after receiving the first production model that I started receiving calls from riders that claimed my lights had saved their life.
From that moment I had an entirely new motivation; this is no longer just some rad looking gimmick, I have the ability to save fellow skater’s lives. I have to share this around the world! Our latest model received an endorsement for safety from a Sheriff’s office because a rider can be seen up to a mile away with Third Kind lights.
What has been the reaction from the longboard community? Many ride at night.
It’s a good blend of stoke and apprehension. They love the look and see the safety aspect, but they are very savvy consumers, without actually seeing and touching our kit the first thought is cheap tricks that won’t hold up to their riding or “I can make that myself”. As soon as they see our product and hear that it is skater designed, featherweight, bulletproof and very water-resistant that apprehension fades to total stoke and they quickly realize a lot of “board” meetings have gone into Third Kind Skateboard Lights. They love knowing they are seen by car drivin kooks, this allows them to relax and skate instead of constantly looking over their shoulder wondering if they are seen or they need to bail.
Is it difficult to capture the lights in photos?
No. Photographers rave about our lights because of how bright they are. They do not have to make them brighter in editing or adjust their shooting technique to capture them; we are using top of the line technologies you won’t see in other mainstream electronics for several years to come. One thing I will say though is that your simple camera or camera phones will capture them, but they will not do them justice as to how bright they truly are.
Have any skate companies contacted you to make the lights standard on their completes?
Not standard, but Local Skateboard Company, Beercan Boards, East Coast Customs, CroozerBoards and STRGHT offer them as an upgrade item. We would love to have more board companies offer this because it is such a rad and potentially life saving accessory. It also really helps boost their sales because our lights bring so much attention and uniqueness to a board. A rider can instantly change and customize the look of their board with the touch of a button.
Can people outside of North America use Third Kind Lights?
Absolutely! Our latest model features USB recharging so it is completely universal. And last I checked the Sun sets to night worldwide so we don’t want to leave anyone in the dark.
Are the lights water-proof?
They are *very* water-resistant. Waterproof is a touchy word; I don’t want people to get the wrong idea and go diving with them, but if you get caught in the rain on your ride and go through some good puddles our lights are designed to handle that. We have made great improvements in this area because of our trip to the ISPO in Germany earlier this year where Europeans expressed water as a major concern for skaters due to the wetter climate. Here in Florida rain is more rare so we don’t ride in the rain; for us that is just a great way to ruin your board and bearings. As a skater though I want my lights not only to handle any riding style, but any riding climate.
What are some of your plans for 2016?
Road trips! We have a fantastic product and brand that we are constantly improving upon but most do not know that lights are available for their board and even less riders know that there is actually a kit worth a darn. Many riders hear about skateboard lights and think of the other junk available or the junk that was available in the past. Marketing our quality product is our biggest hurdle. As just a skater/surfer dude from Florida I don’t have a million dollar marketing budget (not even close) so we have to do it the old school way of road trippin to get our lights in front of as many fellow skaters as possible so that they can see it, ride it and experience it. For 2016 we want to travel and be at as many events as possible, especially longboard events. So if anyone has an event we would love to be apart of it!
Questions for Michael Brooke: Concrete Wave Magazine
What is your first memory or encounter with a skateboard?
It was 1974…Brighton England. I vividly recall a guy rolling down a bank near the pier.
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