Al Borda, the 36-year-old owner of Skin Industries, recently sat down to an interview to discuss with the IE Weekly the origins and history of his Temecula-based company, its custom line of clothing for men, women and children, his tattoos, Skin’s involvement with music, and how Skin Industries is up-and-coming in the international market place. He also chimes in on the importance of giving back to the community.
Inland Empire Weekly: Exactly how and when did the concept for Skin Industries develop?
Al Borda: Well back in 1998 I had an office by a Motorcycle Decal Graphic Company and some of the employees there and myself would ride (motorcycles) after work. We had a track outside our office in Carlsbad, CA. One day they said, since you have three KX 250’s and they are all decked out the same, how about we make you a custom graphic kit? So they made one using my nam—Al Borda—as if it was the company name, and incorporated a design that we came up with and manufactured like 20 kits for me. Well, somehow a few kits got released to the public by mistake and it seemed like everybody wanted them. I was getting calls asking where people can buy them. Well, I didn’t want my name on the graphic kit so I just came up with the name “SKIN INDUSTRIES,” since the trade name for the graphic kits back then was “SKINS.”
IE: Tell us about the clothing lines for men women and children, riding gear Skin offers, and the stores in Redlands and Temecula:
AB: Well, as most people know we make a lot of t-shirts for both men and woman. But back in the early years we made MX gear. I have not made it in about five years because I don’t feel that I can make a quality product and put my name on it at this time. I know I can come out with a less than superior product and still sell it and make good money on it, but I don’t think the supporters of my brand deserve a product with my name on it unless its the best product out. As for the children’s line, I started it because I had a daughter, seven years ago, and I thought it would be cheaper for me to make Skin clothes than to buy her other brands. I was wrong! You can find me at Target buying her stuff all the time, but she still wears Skin too—I mean, come on! You have to have some cool clothes in the closet along with the cheap stuff that gets destroyed.
I opened a corporate Skin store in Temecula next to Olive Garden in the Waco’s Shopping center about one year ago. I have open maybe eight stores in the last five years, but I sold them all off. This new store is a new concept—it’s more like a boutique-style store. I carry only Skin clothing in the store, and if it’s out and it’s a top seller, you can bet I have the item in stock. I look at the store as more of a marketing tool for Skin than a moneymaker. We are always having some kind of sale, so the profits are not big, but like I said, I do the store for the loyal Skin customer—not for my pocket book. In fact if you read this and go in the store and tell them that “Al Borda” said you can have 15% off your entire order, they will honor the discount. Just use the Issue number (#16) of this issue as your promo code.
IEW: Skin Industries, is so busy with athletes—what sports?
AB: I guess golf would be number one. I know it doesn’t sound like an extreme sport but it’s a great game. But I also race a super light truck in the Full Potential off-road series, and take Jiu-Jitsu a fell times a week. Some of our guys snowboard. We skateboard sometimes, too, but you know . . . whatever comes up, we do.
IEW: Does Skin do any work in tattoo industry/body art?
AB: We don’t do any work in the business, but I have had the two best artists work on me. My left arm is done my Dan Adair from Soul Expressions Tattoo, and it’s a 30-year recap of my life; my right arm was done my Mister Cartoon. There’s not much I need to say about him that you can’t find out at www.mistercartoon.com. He just busted out some old-school freestyle artwork. We didn’t even have a plan with the right arm, he asked me what I wanted and I just told him to do his thing and he did!
IEW: For readers who visit the website, explain the Community section? What are some of the charities/non-profit organizations you give to?
AB: I do try to give as much as I can and to do as much as possible, but talking about it kind of takes a way from doing it, you know? I don’t think somebody is a better person because they help others in need, and it’s not always a check that makes things better. Just spending some time with kids can go a long way. In 2009 I hope to launch my own charity—“S.K.I.N” (S)upporting (K)ids (I)n (N)eed. Check back on the website (www.skinindustries.com) for more info in about six months.
IEW: How did Skin choose the Inland Empire as its base?
AB: I started Skin when I live in Carlsbad, CA back in 1998, and I moved up here to Temecula in 1999. I was really good friends with Casey Johnson and a bunch of other SX/MX Riders and at the time I was also filming MX Videos and it was just easier to move up here than drive an hour each way.
IEW: What are your goals/future plans for Skin Industries?
AB: I plan to offer a new CEO line—my signature line—for Spring 2009. It will be a high-end Al Borda—Skin Line with soft vintage tee’s retailing for $75 to $100. I figure if people wanted to spend that kind of money on all these other goofy clothing companies with the same old dragon and cross designs, then people would eat up my great designs. Who knows . . . maybe I’m an idiot and it will fail. People would love that!