Upstarts: Lockdown Skateboards’ Founders Have NJ & NYC On Lock

Lockdown Founders Rich White and Brian Wenning in Long Branch, New Jersey. Photo: Howard Glover

Following a split with Jeremy Rogers’s Selfish Skateboards, New Jersey-based pro skater Brian Wenning teamed up  with life-long friend Rich White to launch a new project, Lockdown Skateboardsbased not just on the product, which includes T’s and decks, but on solid communication with their crew and a vision that comes from the team.

“I have been doing this skate thing for a long time and have seen the good, bad, and ugly sides of it,” says Wenning. “I felt the East Coast needed a dope company that was just strictly ideas coming from my brain, directly to my art director’s brain.”

We caught up with White and Wenning to learn more about Lockdown’s launch, vision, and future.

Give us the low down on Lockdown. Who’s behind it and what’s your story?

It all pretty much started during a dark period while Brian was on Selfish Skateboards. Brian was dealing with legal problems and his own personal demons. Seeing that there was no future there, he decided to use that  period to his advantage and mastermind his dream company.

Soon after getting on with Selfish, Brian called me in, a life-long friend, and we began to hatch our plan. “Wise men always have a backup plan,” they say.

Once we tied up all the loose ends, it was time for Brian to pull the trigger and remove himself from Selfish. One viral video and a Hellies award later, we released Lockdown Skateboards and come out swinging.

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Lockdown's new ad featuring Brian Wenning—frontside noseslide to fakie, Sandy Hook, NJ photo: Chris Speigel

What have been some of the highs and lows of launching the brand?

White: The whole experience of starting our own company has been super positive. We have a ton of support from family and friends, so thats a pretty good feeling. We are proud to wear our own shirts and to see our team take pride in the company they ride for—that’s pretty cool too. Overall it just goes to show that hard work really pays off. We both worked our asses off and have a company we can hold our heads high about, dumping every dime we had into the company and spending sleepless nights worrying about how things would turn out were some of the lows I guess.

Wenning:  All n’ all there havnt really been bad times. I mean from random older friends supporting Lockdown shirts and hoodies to all the young dudes emailing me everyday about boards. I’ve driven hours to personally sell a few kids just two boards—to see the look on their faces just makes me realize this is why I actually pulled the trigger to do it.

What makes Lockdown different from other skate brands out there? Why should retailers care about what you’re doing?

White: We are old school—our version of old school. We want to get back to the feel of street skating in the days when Brian was on Alien Workshop and Habitat. There’s no pressure on our guys to be someone they’re not or get pulled around by the leash of the industry. We are not going to conform to the flavor of the week. We are not Hollywood, our team consists of a bunch of guys who live and breathe skateboarding. We are somewhat like outlaws to the rules of mainstream skate industry.

How about average skaters? Who do you want riding your decks and rocking your shirts?

White: We’re not gonna say who can and can’t represent Lockdown, we would never discriminate — We would like for everyone to rock our stuff, even if they don’t skate. Older folk wearing it would be super dope. Lockdown is what it is.

Wenning: I’m doing this for skateboarders and not a certain side of skating. All types of tech dudes, tranny skaters, rail dudes—just anyone who is down for the cause.

You guys are rolling things out with decks, including a couple pro models for Brian, and some great T’s. Tell us more about the first line’s inspiration, its art, and where you plan to beef it up in the future.

White: One of the visions that was important to Brian was to honor his New Jersey roots. To see Tilly on a deck means a lot to him and those who grew up on Jersey’s dirty streets. Since art is not our specialty, we called up an old friend of Brian’s whose name we dare not say. This guy is brilliant. He lives on an island in the middle of nowhere and he understands exactly what we are trying to do. His graphics and attention to detail are so amazing and he is always down when we have to fly him out. Sometimes he has things ready to go before we even ask him or give him our input. It’s kinda weird, like some telepathic or ESP stuff.

So getting back to the line itself: we wanted to stay as true to form as possible. Nothing fake or exaggerated. Just raw street skating. Our decks are made with Chapman wood. Anyone who knows Chapman wood knows the quality of our decks. Our shirts, hoodies, and hats are all screened by a local guy too. All his stuff is top notch and doesn’t shrink. So when you buy a large it’s not going to shrink in two weeks and have you bummed out.

Around Christmas we are coming out with a few different things, so stay tuned for that. Also we have a bunch of great ideas for next spring and I’m sure everyone is going to be hyped on it when it all comes out.

Wenning: The first run of decks were a few of my models and logo graphics. Now with Ronson on board  Lockdown, him and my good friend Dawson, that does the boards, talk on a regular basis to discuss his board graphics. Ronson will approve any that have his name on them, an arrangement he never had before. This is how it should be, a family ya’ know?

Ask any truthful pro skater if they have a very good relationship with people that run everything behind the scenes. I’ve been there before and the answer is 99% “no.” The only time I felt comfortable was when I was on Alien Workshop and Habitat. That is the way a brand should be run. Real talk—that is how I plan to run Lockdown. I can thank Chris Carter, Mike Hill, and Joe Castrucci for that. I want to pass that on to others that have never felt that feeling before.

You guys are based in Jeresey, but are representing Jersey, NYC, and LA. Explain the tie ins.

White: We are proudly based out of New Jersey. Brian spent a lot of his career skating and living in LA. While he was on the East Coast he spent most of his time skating NYC. With the addition of our new pro Ronson Lambert from San Diego, we have yet again made that coast-to-coast connection. As for distribution, we are handling everything ourselves for now, but I am certain that’s going to change in the near future.

What shops are you currently in?

Wenning: We are in most of the local shops from north Jersey to south Jersey. We personally have walked in to many shops and shook hands with the owners and locals. We just sent a box out to Nate Sherwood’s shop EDU. Our friend Cody in Michigan has us in his shop at TruClass Skateshop. And of course the Chapman Brothers shop in Long Island. Also shouting out to Armory East in Philly, Branded in Long Branch, NJ; Black Diamond in NJ. Sorry if we forgot someone.  Our site is getting international attention too and we’ve shipped to places with names we can’t even pronounce. It’s kinda weird but we’ll cash that check! Thanks for the support from everyone thats helped spread the word.

How can shops get a hold of you?

White: A lot of them already have, but shops can easily get a hold of us by email or Facebook:

email: sales@lockdownskateboards.com

facebook: www.facebook.com/lockdownnj

Also, everyone should check out our website: lockdownskateboards.com

Shouts out?

Wenning: These are the people who have been supporting us since day one: Kristi, Kelly, Drew, Bud, JW, Rick Dawson, Dave J, 309, Rich Sr, Pryme, Blair, and Glenn & Greg Chapman. And to all our friends and fans that have been buying and supporting the movement—thank you!

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