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Talking business with Skin Industries owner and CEO Al Borda

By Tiffany Montgomery
July 07, 2009 9:54 AM

I've seen the brand Skin around for awhile, and have seen more of it recently in PacSun stores mixed in with the MMA lifestyle brands.

So I followed up with Skin Industries owner and CEO Al Borda, who happens to be a reader of this site, to find out more about the brand.

Al tells me Skin is a lifestyle brand that is associated with a wide range of athletes and personalities, including comedian John Heffron, MMA fighter Eddie Bravo, and San Diego Padres baseball player Kevin Kouzmanoff. Skin started in 1998, and has men's and women's lines that include T's, fleece, swimwear, hats, purses, backpacks and accessories. The company is also launching a higher end, fashion driven line in September at Magic called Skin Couture.

"Skin is a lifestyle, and developed for radicals," Al said.

I asked Al some questions about the brand and where he wants it to go.

How is business going so far in 2009?

I am happy to say that we are above our projections. The launch of Skin Couture in the fourth quarter will really be nice, we have a lot of positive feed back for this new line. It will offer T's, fleece, button up shirts, polos and accessories for both men and women.

What are your annual revenues?

We are over $10 million and under $50 million (wholesale). I wouldn't want to give the exact figures but there's plenty of room for growth.

What are some key retail accounts?

The ma and pop store that just orders six T-shirts is just as important to me as a chain with 40 stores or 850 stores. I know it sounds silly, but the chains with 850 stores didn't want to buy the line 11 years ago, but the ma and pop store believed in me since day one.

Of course, the bulk of the revenue comes from the high profile accounts like Dillard's, Macy's, PacSun, Tilly's and Zumiez.

I noticed some Skin shirts in PacSun. How long has PacSun been a customer? How has that relationship helped your company?

PacSun has been on and off for about five years or so. It started off VERY strong for us, then they went through the remodels and restructuring of the products that they were going to carry, etc. And it slowed down. Now, business with them is good, but it could always be better.

I don't have the product placement or display that other brands have, but I am thankful for what they are giving me and I hope in due time after the SKIN brand has proven itself with them they will give me more display areas in their stores.

What is Skin's biggest challenge?

I think a lot of people think we are a lot bigger then we are. I consider my company a lot like Reno; I'm the biggest - littlest clothing company hanging with the big boys. Stores categorize me with Volcom, Quiksilver, Billabong, etc. But those guys spend more in marketing then I sell in a year.

The second biggest challenge is the name. Let me say, Skin does not support, has never supported and never will support, any group or individual that promotes hatred or racial intolerance in any form or fashion.

Would you ever consider selling to a larger clothing company that could scale up the brand?

I have no investor, no private loans and no bank loans. I would have no problem selling my company to somebody that I thought would build the brand and keep its integrity. I am a capitalist and I never said this is a non profit company, I believe in the American dream, and I would love a company like Nike, Oakley or Quiksilver to buy Skin because I think they could take my small company and develop it into a major player for the next 20 years.

But from all the stuff I am reading on your website, it doesn't seem like anybody has any money! But they are free to email me at alborda@skinindustries.com


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