A talk with Craig Jackson about – Theobalds Cap Co.

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It is still early spring when I call Craig on a chilly Sunday morning, outgoing Facetime call… He picks up. We talk about skateboarding for about 10 minutes until we both decide to start the interview,  Craig leads, I follow. Once the recorder is on you never know what is going to happen, some get nervous, stop talking, take long pauses or start speaking fast, none of this happens to Craig. Afterwards, we hang up and I start thinking about the many ways you could transcribe what just happened. Two people of similar age talking for over an hour about our passions, I end my train of thought by thinking “Hats or paper what is the difference? Both started with a skateboard.”  I flip open my laptop and start typing…

Interview by Roland Hoogwater.
Photos by Josh Brown.

Hey Craig nice to see you, how are you, how are things?

I’m good just super busy! We last saw each other at the Bright tradeshow in Berlin, and things went well out there, we got a few new customers and a distributor in South Korea. Besides that, I just came back from our first photo mission to Barcelona and gearing up for Summer releases.

Sounds good, how are things on the other side of the channel?

I feel like we’re in a bit of a unique place in the UK skate scene. I’ve been skating for a fair few years now, and right now it seems that there is a considerable gap in between the big UK brands and the smaller ones in terms of product and visual offerings. It’s hard to put your finger on us. I feel like we float in between this gap if that makes sense.

We’ve always been fans of Theobalds Cap Co. visual offerings.

Thanks! Henry did a fantastic job in creating a look and feel for our video projects that sit in line with the brand and my vision. He has always been super talented. I call it “Legit HD” and he’s good at it. We recently put out a Spring supplement that highlights our team riders as well as friends and family who we skate with regularly. We’ve released a fair few films since our inception to help establish ourselves, and we’ve decided to step away from these kinds of projects for the rest of the year while we all focus on different things.

 

Theobalds Cap Co – Hysteresis

 

You recently went to BCN, how was it?

Barcelona was interesting. I don’t know how many trips I’ve been on over there, but I’ve never had to play TM before. It was the first time the majority of the team had been together for more than a few days, and we were on a mission every day to shoot photos with our good friends and one of my favourite photographers Rafski.
We had Josh Arnott, Jake Bidmead, Cam Barr and Jeremy Jones in the mix along with the homies Josh Brown, Phil Russel, Amy Ram and Danny Wainwright. It was a solid crew, and I have to admit, it stoked me out to see us all out there together as a brand rather than on a homie trip. That being said, I have a new found respect for team managers and was happy to be home at the end of the trip. Cam Barr and Damm Lemons can be a devilish mix, but I got everyone back in one piece. If that’s not CV worthy, then I don’t know what is.

Barcelona is famously good to get coverage. It is nice to see that you guys have been going places.

Things seem to be moving for us. I’ve been steadily working on a collaboration with a Soho based store, and without going into too much detail, it has allowed us to do things that may have been slightly trickier for us otherwise, i.e. pay for all these guys to go to Barcelona. The anxiety and sleepless nights are real with this one. We have collaborated before with PROV in Tokyo and Bored of Southsea in Portsmouth but every project is different, and this will be the most extensive collection yet. I’m super excited for you all to see it

 

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Exciting! Let’s talk a bit about the image of the brand what are the things you focus on?

To be honest, ever since I was young I always just wanted to create something that was simple, tight and recognisable. This is why we launched the brand with our T Caps which is the central pillar of our brand, and we release them in fresh colours a few times a year to maintain that consistency. Then the flip side I also like to focus on illustrative designs which are super fun to dream up and collab with different designers on. It is just a case of piecing together cohesive collections without it getting boring as well as expanding our products slowly…

In my opinion, the product does come from skateboard culture, but it is not a specific skate-related product. The designs, don’t exclude other audiences.

For me, a healthy balance is essential, in every aspect of life. Brand consistency is super important, especially at a time when there is so much being thrown at you via the internet. Let’s keep it real, we make hats and I need to have fun doing that. Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. Whether it’s seeing something on the underground when I’m travelling home after work with my girlfriend or from the many hours of television and films I watch with my business partner Jonny. You can find inspiration most places if you want to.

A perfect example would be high flyer cap with an F16 fighter jet on the front that we released last year. That plane is the fighter Will Smith flies in Independence day, one of the best disaster movies of all time. We watched the film on a random Sunday night, and it all just made sense. I released the cap with the caption on Instagram saying ‘Welcome to earth!’ I don’t think anyone got it though (laughs).

So how was the brand received when it first came out?

I think when we launched it took a lot of people by surprise, but we’d been planning, sampling products and preparing everything for like ten months before we launch in stores. I wanted to try and do things properly. If you’re going to start some Instagram brand that’s cool, but that’s just not me. The term ‘start as you mean to go on’ comes to mind. We spent time talking to the skate shops, securing pre-orders and it helped us get a core base for our product straight out of the gate. At the same time doing it that way made us possibly seem more professional than we are (laughs).

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So you guys waited until the time is right.

Yes, I always try and wait until the time is right. Sometimes you feel a certain sense of pressure when you haven’t released any product or content for a while, but at the same time, if you rush things, you can end up blowing it. I guess it all comes down to what you’re setting out to achieve, just remember nothing ever goes to plan though…

I can imagine that helps to get second or third-time buyers.

I’ve noticed a lot of return buyers through our e-commerce. Some of our stockists make reorders quite regularly. At the same time, we get a lot of messages from people who have been collecting our product since we started. I collect things myself, so the thought that something we are producing is seen as a collectable is amazing. I think people like the idea of a solid headwear brand in the UK skate scene.

What about paper advertisement.

Is that a pitch? Haha. Ever since I was a kid I loved skate magazines, I don’t read them enough anymore. I don’t know why. In a time where the internet is entirely taking over everything, print magazines have never been so important. I rate anyone who tries to keep the dream alive whether it’s zines or full-blown skate mags. Back to your original question though, I can’t wait to get to a point where we can run regular ads, it’s the least I can do for our guys.

Right! So what are some of your favourite brands from the UK?

That is a hard one as, to be honest, I feel a lot of it is super stale. I’m a fan of Palace, I worked at Slam City when the brand started. It’s crazy to see where it is now! Yardsale and Skateboard Cafe also have amazing board graphics, and their teams are made up of some of the best. Regarding other UK based apparel brands that I’m into? Not a lot to report on there, unfortunately. I like a lot of stuff from outside of the UK, Carpet Company, POP, Sci-Fi Fantasy, Grand Collection and Swiss Bank are all great. At the end of the day, if you’re creating, having fun, and can afford to take your team on trips and tours, then you’ve made it really! In the end, it doesn’t matter what I think. But that has always been my goal anyway. Catch me at SB.

True! I agree with that, Cheers Craig!

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