There really isn’t anything as cool as being young and incredibly gifted at sport. Case in point, Paul Rodriguez, aka P-Rod. Grinding his way to the top with a bevy of accolades, it wasn’t long before deals started rushing in and Nike was knocking on his door for a signature shoe. Like any smart action sports kid that insures himself against arthritic joints and sacking himself, P-Rod has one eye on the future, opening a new store called Primitive in Encito, California. We were fortunate enough to ollie up on the man of the hour and catch a quick Q&A on the eve of his entry into the world of retail.
Hey Paul, how’s the skate scene popping off these days?
It’s popping off just fine, thank you.
How do you think the scene has evolved in the last couple of years, with the increased attention given to skate brands and the industry?
The skate scene has become more accepted outside of itself. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.
Has the fixie/BMX craze put any pressure on the skate industry or is there room for both to keep booming?
None whatsoever. To be honest, I didn’t even know what 'fixie' meant when I read it in this question. Most skaters I know don’t pay attention too much outside of skateboarding.
You have an amazing career that has been cultivated from such an early age. Did you ever imagine you would be opening your own store?
No I definitely did not ever imagine opening my own store. As a youngster all I cared about was the act of skating itself. Now I’m at a point in my career where I have an opportunity to set myself up for retirement (many years from now), and I don’t want to mess it up.
How did the store come about?
The store came about from my partner Andy, who has had the vision since high school. He approached me about it when I got on Nike, but I didn’t feel I was ready to handle the responsibility until now. I figure if I’m going to make an investment, it should be something that I enjoy doing, rather than it becoming a ‘job’.
Can you give us a heads up about the new store and what peeps can expect? Are the nerves setting in the closer it gets to opening?
The image of the store is a prestigious retail boutique that focuses on hard to obtain shoes, apparel, and other accessories that stem from the roots of skateboard/street culture. As far as getting nervous, no, not too much. I have faith in our project.
How do you handle becoming such a commodity? You have become a brand bigger than yourself, which is evident by the huge roster of sponsors that help market you. How do you tackle the pressure of having to please everyone, especially at such a young age?
I originally obtained these sponsors by focusing solely on the act of skateboarding. I can’t think of pleasing everybody. I just try to be the best skateboarder I can be, and everything else takes care of itself.
Nike have shown you mad love, with you becoming the first Mexican-American pro skater to be sponsored by the brand, along with being the only skater to receive a pro model shoe in your designs. How do you give back to a company that believes in you so wholeheartedly?
I look up to guys like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. The most I can do to give back is to try to carry on the legacy in my sport, the way they do in theirs.
You are only the fifth athlete to have a Nike shoe named after them, which is a massive honour! Tell us about your P-Rod line and why skaters benefit from wearing it while they kick, push?
HAHA, You’re right. It’s a huge honour. I think skaters will benefit from the line because Nike is the best at what they do. Besides that, I really take the time to work with the designers to come up with what I feel a good skate shoe should be.
Who is on the team at Nike that brings the P-Rod to life? You must come up with some hectic designs in the manufacturing process! Are there favourites that you have made exclusive for yourself?
Michael Hernandez and James Arizumi are who I work with the closest during the design process. I’m really digging the samples of my third shoe, which are on my feet right now. They feature an ill new print that will debut when the shoe is released.
You featured in Nike SB’s “Nothing But The Truth” film which dropped last year, have you caught the acting bug? Will we see you venturing into the entertainment industry or are you sticking where you are?
Well actually, I did two independent films prior to NBTT. They will finally be released this year.
What’s next for P-Rod? What can we expect from the SB range and what else do you want to achieve personally?
I’m excited about my third shoe, which is scheduled to drop summer ’09. Other than that, I plan on progressing in skateboarding, as long as GOD will allow me to.
Photo credit : Herman Jimenez
Hit up http://www.sk8site.com for all your P-Rod needs
Peep the flyer for the launch of Primitive here