We had a chance to interview Chad White of Six Starz Skate company. It’s obvious that Chad has a big heart – he donates 10% of what he makes from the company back to charity. I learned about his new Kickstarter campaign through my friend Al Garcia. Chad’s stoke for skateboarding is infectious and we definitely recommend you check out more about what he’s doing.
What motivated you to start up Six Starz and what does the name represent?
The concept of Six Starz, before it had a name, came up in 2009 just as the financial crisis was at its height of bad. It was initially going to be a just a simple surfing T-shirt brand. Myself and a friend absolutely hated our jobs in manufacturing, so we joked around with the idea of creating our own destiny by selling shirts. He had a history of working for O’neil as a regional sales rep, and I had a lengthy history of making tees for a previous brand of mine and helping other startup labels. We nailed down a macro view of the brand, the attitude we wanted to convey and the artist design types for graphics, but we struggled on what to name the brand.
One day I was watching the History Channel and they were showing a special on George Patton and discussing military generals who were as prestigious as him with one being George Washington. They spoke about George Washington being granted the highest ranking status in American history in 1976, and signed into law that no one else would be a “Six Star General”, the general of all armies. That was it, we had name! Being a Six Star(s) general meant pride, prestige, elite, and it had deep roots. A few more months went by and my partner was offered a new position out of town and he lost interest in the brand, being swamped with work at his new job. I was left with this name, this idea, and a tremendous amount of determination, so I went to where surfers practice on concrete; the skate park.
I saw some locals skating and hung out with them for a while explaining my ideas. One said, “It would be cool to do skating shirts for Kalamazoo skaters too..” Done.. Not only would this brand be here, but we had to incorporate giving back to our community from what we made. That conversation pulled everything together and deck designs followed and soon I had a brand ready to launch in 2011.
Tell us about the skate scene in Kalamazoo.
The skate scene in Kalamazoo is growing. There are a lot of young adults to preteens that are at the parks every clear day above 40 degrees! There are two parks in Kalamazoo, one privately owned and one public park. The Police love to crack down on skateboard anywhere outside of these parks, so longboarders are seen more frequently. Lonboarding is mostly utilized by the College students at WMU and Kalamazoo College since Kalamazoo has a lot of hills. There aren’t a lot of comps that happen here.
You have to go north to Grand Rapids or east to the Detroit/Ann Arbor area for big skate competitions. In 2016, we hosted our inaugural Skate Jam competition, bringing out pro skater Ruben Najera and Amateur Skater Mike Francis. This was the first skate event ever at the public skate park in downtown.
You have a Kickstarter campaign that aims to fight prejudice – what motivated you to start this up?
Everyone at sometime in their life has been a victim of being stereotyped, or prejudice. Some of us more often than others! We are witnessing a challenging time in our country right now…. People don’t know who they can trust, and social ignorance is at an all time high. Too often groups of people are being wrongfully judged and discriminated against because of the actions of a few. I am a firm believer of the words from Dr. Martin Luther King, that we should judge someone by their content of character and not by their skin color. Racial relationship issues are only part of the battle we hope to bring awareness to.
This country was built on being free to think, free speak, and free to choose a religion. These fundamental rights are being used against people. The only way to get change is to first bring awareness to the problem, discuss the issues, and come to a solution. This is step one. We want people to write down stereotypes they have encountered in life that they want to see eradicated. I believe we can be the generation that changes this before it gets worse.
What are your future plans and goals?
The sky is the limit for us!! My goals for this brand are to inspire and to create change. Our plans are to grow by earning the respect and trust of people as a high quality brand based on solid morals. I work very hard to maintain a level of quality with every Six Starz product we make. We have plans of opening a facility for designed for skaters and surfers to practice and to compete. I would also like to implement afterschool skateboarding and surfing programs here in Michigan to deter kids from crime and for some to step out of their comfort zones by trying something new! I can see us taking this concept around the world to places not normally associated with Skateboarding and Surfing. We are only beginning our journey, and everyday is truly a blessing to be in a position to work with the youth and know that you have done something that will help them with the road ahead.