Meeting… Eli Reed!

Photos: Jonathan Mehring

Interview: Charles Paratte

"Twelve years old, Brooklyn banks, one of my first contest."

 Jonathan Mehring

Eli will always surprise you, and that is one quality when you are trying to be inspirational on your board, or with whatever path you chose to follow. The Boston kid has gone a long way over the years, and always delivered exciting skating, while keeping things fresh and diverse… Those who might have doubted him when his Zoo years ended got put into place by The Chase, a sick part for a homie project, which is proof that he is the productive kind, in a good way…
Hey, fuck it, let's just say that we just like Eli Reed over here, and him joining Organika was a great timing to get Charles on his case!
Benjamin Deberdt

Years ago, you were always recognizable for wearing green windbreakers, are you still a Boston Celtics fan?
Why, yes, of course! Just so much has changed in my life since I was a kid. I don't really wear green windbreakers any more but, now that you brought it up, I need to get some new ones… [Laughter]

What do you miss the most from Boston?
I miss the old spots and my old crew of guys I grew up skating with. Those where some of the best times in my life and I will cherish them forever. A lot of the famous spots in Boston are gone and kids have no idea what a great city Boston was to skate in the 90's. I truly miss those days…

You recently spent much time in Tokyo, what this city inspires you?
Holy shit, Tokyo is the most inspiring place I've ever been to, since New York. I love getting lost there on my own and just figuring things out. Such an amazing culture and I have so much respect for the Japanese. They also show much respect to Americans, which is nice as well. I absolutely love Japan.

What made you decide to start your own apparel company "Eli Reed", and how did you get involved in fashion?
I started making shirts and hats three years ago. I have just always been into design and had people around me that believed in me to do it. So I just got inspired, I guess. It has definitely evolved into more of a brand now. I wouldn't say I'm so into fashion as much I am into design. If people in fashion are embracing it and are into what I'm doing, then, that's great. I just like making cool stuff.

It seems you deliberately separate the Eli Reed brand from the skateboard industry. How come?
That's not so true. At all, really. My brand is for all and excludes no one. Skateboarders have a harder time digesting new things, I think, and sometimes are quick to hate. I can't help if all types of people are into it and not just skateboarders.

Is design something you taught yourself, or did you study it?
I've just always been into all kinds of design and pay attention to details. I learned everything on my own.

You only had two tricks in Cherry, though people would most likely put you on the Supreme Team. Working on a full part with Strobeck wasn't the plan?
Oh, I never new Supreme had a team. He never asked me to film a full part.

 Jonathan Mehring

Roll in 50-50

The Chase was a great mix between skating and acting… How did you get involved in the project?
Peter Huynh is a good friend of mine and just asked me to do a guest board for UXA and I was down. He came up with the idea for The Chase and I loved it. I I think it was done well for it being just me, him and Jason Jenckens behind it.

After you parted away from Zoo York, I guess a lot of people wondered "where is Eli?". Why did it take so long to find a new board sponsor?
Timing, bro. Life is all about timing.

It seems despite the economy supposedly getting better, and skateboarding being big, skateboard companies still struggle, somehow… What do you think that is?
I really don't know, bro! [Laughter]

You seem to have a strong connection to a lot of the old heads from the NYC scene. Is that coming from going to NYC when you were really young, or meeting them later when you moved to NYC?
I've been in New York for way over a decade. I stay close to my original friends I first met there that took me in. Most of them are real New Yorkers that were born and raised there. So that's that. I'm always inspired by New York. I really couldn't see myself living anywhere else. The streets are always inspiring to me.

Actually, when was the first time you went skating NYC? Any memorable story?
Twelve years old, Brooklyn banks, one of my first contest. Met Quim Cardona. Boom!

And what a better introduction to Organika than a hippie jump over Quim Cardona, one might ask?

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