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Always Do What You Should Do is a project rooted in uplifting, positive actions. We caught up with the man behind the brand, Nick Mason, to talk about how he got started, surfing, skating and running a brand from a shared bedroom.
Can you introduce yourself?
Hello, to anyone reading this :) My name is Nick Mason, I am from Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. I was raised by the beach and I love skateboarding, surfing, nature, drinking cold ones and meeting new people.
How did you start Always Do What You Should Do (Always) and what got you motivated to do it?
always is a 24-year-old project as the product and the meaning behind it comes from my experiences on planet earth to date. From a young age, I have been in and around surf/skate/concept stores and working under other companies that for a moment in time were super inspiring for myself. After getting burnt a couple of times I decided that I was old enough and ugly enough to start my own thing. I get fulfilment through helping other people and in order for me to live that dream I realised I had to boss up and get things moving. In brief that's why I got it going.
Is there a meaning behind the name?
Yeah definitely. Clothing is the first platform, but I wanted to create a name that made sense with everything else I hope to do. Always Do What You Should Do is a moral duty type message. It sounds quite simple when saying it without thought. But quite powerful if you put some thought into the words. The only person who is gonna change your situation is yourself.
You started with the smell proof cases, they proved pretty popular. How did they first come about?
I’ve been with the smell proof cases for 4-5 years now. They are originally purposed for the ocean with the main feature being a waterproof seal making them both buoyant and watertight. It wasn't till moving to London where I appreciated the watertight feature also makes them smell proof. It's the perfect wallet for anyone that lives an on the go lifestyle and I think that's why it caught a little bit of traction here as everyone is always on the go. And smokes weed haha!
You worked on a collab case with Carhartt WIP, right? Did they approach you?
Yeah, that was a little surreal when that came up. Big up Eric @ Carhartt for putting it on. Carhartt was responsible for making merchandise for the Sweet Harmony: Rave Today exhibition at the Saatchi gallery, documenting the rave scene in the '80s and '90s. Eric approached me asking if I would want to make Carhartt cases for the exhibition and said say no more.
Surfing has a big influence on the brand, what's your relationship with surfing?
Surfing, like skating, is something that you can't get off the mind when you get hooked. There was always some random waterlogged skateboard around the house growing up and I started skating in primary school before I surfed. I started surfing about aged 10-11 and once I got hooked skateboarding got knocked down the to-do list. My full focus was on surfing growing up, I was lucky enough to live a couple of streets back from the beach. If there were no waves I would go skate but if there was surf I would be in the ocean till dark. There has been a skateboard in the picture the whole time but that only became a priority when I moved away from the beach. Now surfing is like catching up with a best friend that lives in a different country. You don’t see them as much as you would like but are grateful every time you do.
Skateboarding is predictable and dependable. The only thing you need on your side is for it not to rain.
What are the similarities and differences between surfing, skating and the surrounding cultures?
Could write a book on this one. Surfing birthed skating and there is a long list of similarities and differences.
No wave breaks the same and that is probably the main difference between the two. Skateboarding is predictable and dependable. The only thing you need on your side is for it not to rain. Surfing, on the other hand, is an equation with mother nature. The tide, the wind, the temperature, the swell etc. All these variables that are constantly changing make you super aware of your surroundings. You get to know yourself after spending lots of time in the ocean. The same goes for skateboarding in the street, you grow into being extremely aware of what is going on around you.
Culture wise skating is richer than surfing by a long shot. Surfing is geographically exclusive. If you don't live by the ocean you can't do it. Whereas skating takes place in every corner of the globe and you only need a board and some concrete to get it going. This is the defining difference between the cultures of these worlds. Skating allows you to become a well-rounded person whereas surfing keeps you in a bubble by the ocean. They are both so special and I could really go into depth regarding the similarities between the two but I'm gonna keep it @ that.
You recently joined forces with Goma Projects to raise money for a surfing charity project. Can you tell us how this came about?
Yeah big up Mikey @ Goma Projects. A real take his own shirt off his back type of bro who has helping others at the top of his to-do list. We had a lot of mutual friends with one another and I kept getting told I needed to meet this guy. He’s been helping out within the Rocinha surfing community, Vivendo Um Sonho Surf, in Brasil for the last few years and after he learned I surfed and had the same vision of wanting to help people we got to talking. We just finished fulfilling our first project together which was a GOMA x Always x VUSS t-shirt which started with the goal of supplying food and sanitary packages for as many families as we could in the favela. Mikey is the one with the vision and I truly had no expectations on t-shirt sales and both of us were humbled with how many we managed to sell. We raised over £5000 for them just off that one t-shirt and this result has created a new target of raising enough money to buy VUSS a house in the favela. The goal is to go over there and renovate the place into a clubhouse for the surf school to have as their safe place to help grow and incubate the youth in Rocinha on positive pathways by the ocean.
Aside from skating and surfing, what are your other influences? I heard you design everything yourself? Who are your design influences or brands that you look to?
Up to this date, I have done everything design-wise myself. Apart from the toothbrush box which was designed by Gulan (@gulansworld should definitely check him out). For no particular reason apart from just being really attentive to what is in my mind and having the patience with myself to bring it to life. At the same time I'm quite relaxed in the approach to it all and can’t just whip something out on demand. It is a really organic process for me which I can’t force. “If you force a fart, it's probably going to be shit” and this sentence is true with the process of making products and projects. I have learned the best way to make stuff that stands up by itself is to stay observant and always be about the streets. Every interaction is an opportunity for knowledge and knowledge brings about vision. I am a big believer in talking with many and speaking with few, for me inspiration comes from everyday life and experiences. I’m not paying time towards what other skate and surf brands are doing and this helps me stay on the wave. In saying this, designing everything takes up too much time and my goal is to have a team that is on the same wave graphically speaking. Hit the DM if you ever want to show us something you think fits the puzzle.
You have been screen-printing your own t-shirts, right? Is this something you have done previously? Or have you learned this recently?
Yeah, that's how it all started. I have the sketchiest little set up in my room. Always is from humble beginnings, to say the least. I had a little bit of experience screen printing but not with a proper carousel set up. You can't really experiment with no budget through an actual screen printer and this is where ordering an exposed screen and printing pieces myself came about. You are bound to one colour prints but you are able to learn really quickly what looks good and what doesn’t. Plus you are able to print on anything, whenever you want and aren’t relying on someone else to do the job for you. In saying this it is extremely time consuming and is now not the most efficient use of my time. Especially when wanting to scale the operation. The hand-dyed and hand-printed t-shirts are a labour of love for me and are something I hope to always have available on the website. They are the sketchy looking ones without tags haha. All the t-shirts with tags are screen printed by people who know what they are doing now.
In typing this all the new bits have arrived and the place is looking more like a little warehouse than a bedroom for 3 people haha.
I heard you live in one room with 2 other people?! Starting a brand from your bedroom can be tough, let alone with 2 others having to put up with you. Have you had any issues or arguments here?
Hahaha, yeah that is the set-up. We all moved here together from New Zealand not really knowing too many people. It was a short-term strategy to not burn through all our dollars before finding jobs and then we would get a new place. We eventually all got jobs but the living in harmony made us stay in the room as it allowed us to all be somewhat financially free from the rat race with such low overheads. It’s actually so skitz upon reflection that we have lived in THE ROOM for over 2 years now. It’s been a journey, to say the least, and I am blessed forever with Mac and Jarrad. In my head Always is as much theirs as it is mine. They might not even acknowledge it but their help and direction is the driving force behind it all. I just hope to keep it growing and help them as much as they have helped me. We are all pretty down to earth and there has never been a proper argument between us. In typing this all the new bits have arrived and the place is looking more like a little warehouse than a bedroom for 3 people haha. We are actually about to move out of the room which has been a long time coming.
Lockdown must have been tough? How did you cope?
Yeah was a little bit skitz haha. The bro's both had girlfriends and left me in the room for the majority of it. I was in paradise really. I have been holding down a full-time job whilst doing all this and very rarely have had time to stop and appreciate the journey to date. Lockdown allowed me to hone in on everything and plan a few things I would otherwise not have the time to do so.
It's good that the lockdown helped you gave you time to focus. Has it caused any production issues for you?
Yeah, not having to go into work made me finally have enough hours in the day to get things done. It made me realise how special it is to have consecutive days to develop a product or project. Before lockdown, I was working Monday to Friday and between skating and sinking cold ones, there is very little quality time created to get things going. You have to be super disciplined when operating on that schedule and lockdown gave me the opportunity to reassess the whole operation and make changes to keep it going forward.
You were working at Aries recently. Has working for a growing fashion company helped you with running your own business?
Yeah, Aries has been a blessing. I really can’t say that enough. I have worked in clothing stores my whole upbringing and felt like I had gained everything I could when it comes to a retail store. Working behind the scenes for a company of that size has opened my eyes to the day to day realities of running a clothing company. Big up my bosses Sofia and Nicki, they are inspiring figures who I have learned a lot from. I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to a lot of things I hope to encounter on my own journey, like collaborations with big companies and operating the showroom at Paris Fashion Week was something I would pay to do, so to be there getting paid for it was a proud moment for a 15-year-old me.
What have you got planned for the future of Always Do What You Should Do?
We just did a little video for Converse which was a step in the direction I hope this project will lead. Partnerships with organisations who want to trade their loud voices for how we speak is the goal. I want to operate across lots of different industries and make sense of the name Always Do What You Should Do. I know with the right team assembled we can bring sunshine into places where it's not normally sunny. I hope to make more to give more and provide opportunities for all walks of life. I’ve been in the washing machine of hyped products and fortunate to be aware that there is no substance among that pissing contest. I hope to continue making quality product @ a fair price and creating a positive and inspiring effect on all who come across Always.
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