Posted: 10 Mar 2012 12:52 AM PST
Editor's Note: Our new Sunday BIZ section includes in depth features, interviews, and reports that dive deep into the issues and personalities shaping the industry—bringing the girth of a Sunday paper without a trip to the driveway or sawing down trees.
Almost 30 years ago a young French skater named Pierre-André Senizergues came to the States with big dreams and an even bigger pool of talent and ambission. Senizergues's story spawned from humble beginnings—he launched his career working at TransWorld SKATEboarding, sleeping in a car in the parking lot, before going on to not only become a pro skater and World Champion, but one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the industry.
Senizergues' first brand, etnies, is celebrating its 25th anniversary last year, and along that journey he has gone on to launch four more labels, shutter one, and seen numerous economic cycles, fads, and trends. During the roller coaster ride of life, Senizergues has stayed true to his vision of making the sport of skateboarding more sustainable for the people passionate about it, and the world a better place. We caught up with Senizergues earlier this year in Orange County, California for a look back on the ride, the lessons learned along the way, and what he has up his sleeve for the next 25…
You've been in the industry a long time as an athlete and entrepreneur – why did you originally get into the business side of it?
I've been in this industry for over 30 years. At one point, I decided that I needed a shoe that could perform so it doesn't get destroyed in one minute, something that can be more durable. I wanted to create something to help skateboarding grow.
I was thinking shoes can be sustainable for the sport because everybody wears them. If you can make really good shoes for skateboarding, but at the same time that other people can wear, it creates a platform for sustainability for skateboarding as a whole.
You've seen a lot of economic cycles over that time. In the past, when the market dipped, it was more about fads, but recently it's been more about the economy. Where is skateboarding at now?
I've seen the up of seventies, the fall of the seventies, the up of the eighties, the fall of the eighties. Starting the cycle again now is really an economic challenge, which is different than the cycle before because the industry is much bigger now.
During 2008 to 2011, the economy contracted in general. I think the industry needed to be more efficient, and I think in general the industry is probably more efficient as a whole now. The industry has had to contract and had to make cuts, had to become more and more efficient and it had to settle itself better for 2012.
Do you think we've gotten to more or less the right size?
As an industry we're better set for 2012. I see a strong possibility that the US will come back now—there are some signs already. For Sole Tech, we decided there's probably too many brands on the market right now, too much choice for the consumer; too much choice for the retailer; too much choice for distributors, so we have to look at really choosing better. Being more focused.
That's one of the reasons, in 2011, we decided to put éS on hiatus. It is a very strong brand, but there are too many brands so we need to focus. We see growth in Emerica, we see growth in Altamont, we see growth in etnies, and we see growth in ThirtyTwo already in 2012. I think it was the right move, putting one aside and focusing on the others.
It's really easy to say that the market needs to contract a bit to the right size, but normally when people say that they're talking about putting their competitors out of business and not looking internally at what they can do to better focus their efforts. That's a good example of looking internally to get the size correct, market wise.
Yeah, exactly. People always focus on things that are out of their control. You can't control everything. You can just focus on what you can control.
Follow the jump…
Posted: 30 Mar 2012 09:30 AM PDT
An impoverished noblewoman, Gabrielle de Montserrat is only fifteen when she meets her first love, a commoner named Pierre-Andrè Coffinhal. But her brother forbids their union, forcing her instead to marry an ageing, wealthy cousin. Widowed and a mother before the age of twenty, Gabrielle arrives at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in time to be swept up in the emerging turbulence and to encounter the man she never expected to see again. Determined and independent, she strives to find her own freedom as the Revolution takes an ever more violent turn.
This is one of the most difficult reviews that I've ever written. Why? Because Mistress Of The Revolution by Catherine Delors is one of my favourite books ever and, even though I did my best, I'm not sure I managed to do it justice. Mistress Of The Revolution is a very captivating book that you just can't put down so prepare to spend a few sleepless nights while you hasten to reach the last page! The book is written in the format of a memoirs. In it, Gabrielle, a beautiful minor noblewoman from Auvergne now living in England recalls her childhood, youth and the French Revolution that dramatically changed her life and those of millions of other people.
As a teenager, Gabrielle falls in love with a commoner, Pierre-André Coffinhal. The two want to get married but Gabrielle's family won't hear of it and force to her to wed an old and abusive Baron instead. As a result, Pierre-André leaves for Paris with an implacable hatred for the Old Regime and all aristocrats. As for Gabrielle, her marriage is short-lived as her husband dies soon afterwards, leaving her with a daughter and very little money. She then decides to seek her fortune in Paris where she will have to make difficult choices and accept compromises in order to support herself and her little girl while striving for independence and freedom.
While at first the book is slow, but by no means ever boring, the pace quickens when the Revolution breaks out and it becomes a real-page turner. Because of the memoir format of the book, most events are only briefly described as Gabrielle herself wasn't there to witness them. But other times she was caught in the middle of the storm. She's there when the mob storms the Tuillieris and is again present at the prison massacres that occurred in September 1792 for example. At this point, being an aristocrat in France has become really dangerous and to avoid the guillotine, Gabrielle is forced to seek out the help of her former lover Pierre-André, who has become a judge of the Revolutionary Tribunal. Their love was genuine, passionate and sweet but he holds a grudge against her. What will happen when they meet again?
Not only is the story enthralling but Delors also describes the settings of the novel with such a richness of details that the reader feels like he/she is there with Gabrielle, following her around Paris and the French countryside. Also rich is the language used by the characters of the book. In the 18th century, conversations were a form of art, a way to exercise and sharpen the mind and bring pleasure to yourself and others. And that's exactly what it did for me, I felt great pleasure in reading the skilled and elaborate conversations among the characters and it's all the more astounding since English isn't Delor's mother tongue.
But it's not only the story, the characters and the settings I enjoyed. I also learned a great deal about the French Revolution, whose rapidly turns are briefly but well-described in this book and gives the reader a better understanding of this tragic historical period. Like many other nobles of the time, Gabrielle greets the Revolution with excitement, as she sees it as a way to positively change society and improve people's lives, which later turns to fear and apprehension as the Terror begins.
Gabrielle is a fictional character but lots of historical figures make an appearance in the book, from the Chevalier De Huttes, a devotee of Marie Antoinette, to the Duc De Lauzun who becomes friends with our heroine to Robespierre whom Gabrielle briefly meets. King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette also make brief appearances in the book and they are portrayed through the point of view of the people, making it easy to understand why they were so misunderstood and hated.
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