Irie One

Paul Wilson
Vice President
Skateboarding Association of Barbados
Irie One

Photos by Mikul Miyagi

July 2023

Tell us something about Barbados people do not know? Something about Barbados people don’t know?
There quite a lot but to sum it up we have a lot of up underlying issues that relate to slave days mentality, and no one really likes to talk about it. It affects us in more ways than we think but it’s slowly getting out. But otherwise it’s the most amazing place to me.

Tell es something about yourself?
I came from a pretty rough neighbourhood but it had a great legacy of sporting athletes, and soccer was one of them. I started playing for the local team. I got pretty good and actually made it to the trial for the National team. On the very first day of training I got kick in the chest by the goalie. I quit there and then. I walked to a beach not far from the playing field and saw people surfing for the first time and said that’s what I want to do. There wasn’t a coach, captain, or referee. I was sold after that. Later, I got introduced into skateboarding by a dude who use to pass through my neck of the woods. He gave me an opportunity to try his skateboard and that was it. I was it again. All I wanted was to skate. He has passed away, but his legacy is strong now that we have a skatepark. RIP TONY HOLDER.

‘We’re  going to be the first legit board brand from the Caribbean.’

‘This was for an online video mag contest. Our submission name playing with fire. I'm doing a backsmith stall while Clay Gill hold the fire stick.’

You are one of the few local board companies on the island. What triggered the idea?
I always wanted to have a company or be part of a team. I never really got the opportunity to be sponsored by any big brands but mostly got support from my bros that started small brands. I had a skate shop for a few years and it was a no brainer to have a skateboard team. With that in place, they needed to have apparel and hard goods to keep that active and on board with the rest of the industry. We’re going to be the first legit board brand from the Caribbean.

What are your plans with Irie One?
As of now I’m trying to restructure the Irie One brand in terms of locking down local artists, new young skateboard riders, additional options for apparel and just taking it to another step. At this stage I would say I do 80% of all Irie One business. So, I need to step back and get some help with marketing, sales and branding. With the power of internet, we can get our product out to the world and they need to hear our story.

Where do you produce your boards?
Now our decks are coming in from the US, but we are looking around. With Covid showing up, it really made things harder for us. It’s hard enough for us the get a supplier who wants to help us out. But I will say this ‘we are small, but we are mighty in numbers’. We need help in the Caribbean. The outside see us as small islands but we have a lot of talent around.

Paul Wilson • Backtail • DIY Fspot, Barbados

What other projects are you working on?
I’m the Vice President of the Skateboarding Association of Barbados so we always have plans. We are currently working alongside the local Olympic association to help us get in gear for the next Olympics. We have a program set up called Gromfest to select the first National team riders. We have a summer event that’s been going for 10 years but we had to put a halt on that since 2020 due to Covid. We want to get back to that and have the regional guys come back out again when traveling is easier for all. But always have stuff going on.

The location for some of your skate shots is fstop which was your original DIY spot. What happened to it?
It was built on government property, but we had an agreement with one of the person in charge. However, that person got removed and his successor never came out to see what we were doing, ask any questions or help with anything. One day, I got a call that the place is bulldozed. When I got there, it was all gone which caused a national and international uproar on social media. Then the process started for us getting a park. And the rest is history.

Last question: If you could interview a person, who would it be and why? What would you ask?
If I could interview one person? Antwan Dixon or Stevie Williams. I would just ask about how they came from the ground to where they are now. I love the stories about the struggles and hardships and how they are achieving greatness at the end.

‘When I got there, it was all gone which caused a national and international uproar on social media.’

© Tom Jur