Zonkey Skateboards is the perfect example of turning a hobby into a career. This company got started by a couple of student outside of the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The founders are brothers Brian and Jeff Tipton. To get a little more specific, despite their name, what they really focus on are creating and distributing hand-made longboards. Both have extensive backgrounds in woodworking and were able to use this skill to add a high degree of artistic appeal to their longboards.
What drew them to longboards as opposed to the traditional skateboards initially was the fact that their effect on the body was not as harsh. From talking with experienced skaters, they found that the sport could take a hefty toll on the body, particularly the knees. The effect is not nearly as detrimental with longboarding. What separates longboards from skateboards is (not surprisingly) the fact that the boards are quite a bit longer. They usually ring in at about three to six feet lengthwise, while skateboards tend to not be longer than thirty inches.
Their functions are pretty different as well. The use of longboards is most often to get from one destination to another while doing tricks are more what the skateboard is built for. In addition to the length, the wheels also differ according to their respective purposes. Longboards will typically have wheels that are more large and soft to handle extended transportation.
What separates these guys at Zonkey Skateboards is how seriously they take this passion. They are not just throwing scrap pieces together and hoping everything comes out all right. The Tiptons really bring an artesian level of detail to what they do. Every single board that they produce is handcrafted. Wood that is used for the base of these boards is even meticulously selected. The local shops, the Tiptons find, really offer the best combination of quality and price.
One of the reasons we really enjoyed working with these guys is because they hail from the same ordinary beginnings that we at Rival do, just some small-town guys with a passion and the desire to turn that into something more. Our live screen-printing service was really pivotal to helping them with building brand awareness and recognition. Since they are still in their beginning stages, having unique marketing strategies like this did wonders for getting their name out. It also helped them build up a marketing email list by having us simply take down a name and contact information before producing each shirt.
Speaking of names, what in the world is a zonkey anyways? Well the brothers had a conversation about hybrid animals, and as fate would have it, the classic zebra/donkey combination came up. Hence, Zonkey was born. They liked it, other than its sheer uniqueness, because it mirrored the hybrid component of their longboards
We always strive to help those businesses in the early stages as much as we can by drawing on our experience in the market place. Especially with a great group like these guys, we really want to see them take off because we know what the beginning struggle is like.