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Enjoi Skateboards

  • Enjoi is a skateboard company that primarily manufactures skateboard decks, but also skateboard accessories and clothing.
  • The company, which is distributed by Dwindle Distribution, has been known for its humorous and satirical designs since its inception and has adopted a stylized panda as its logo.
  • The company was founded in 2000 by Marc Johnson and Rodney Mullen.
  • The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, California.

Is Enjoi dead?

Recently there have been some rumors about the company and team riders are leaving the company one by one to follow Loiue.Louie Barletta did an interview with Jenkem...

So, if it's not dead, why did you stop? When Marc Johnson founded enjoi in 2000, it was all about the team and friendships. The last few months have been terrible. The team riders weren't getting paid, and the answer was always the same: "We didn't hit our sales targets this week, this month, etc." I get it, the economy is tough, but it just weighed so heavily on my chest knowing every week that no one was going to get paid. Every morning I would get a text from a videographer or artist or one of our team riders, "Lou, when are we getting paid? Have you heard anything about pay yet?" I just couldn't take it anymore, we were based on fun and friendship, and I felt like everyone was just hanging in there because they believed in me. I think I just stopped believing in the company. Eventually, I sent a text message to the enjoi group chat telling everyone that I loved them all and just couldn't take it anymore. I wrote this Instagram post, hit send, put my phone away and started crying. It was like dude, it's 23 years of my life. It's friends and relationships that have come and gone, and you just think about all those epic times and what it was like to be a part of it all.

When I hit send on Instagram, it was all over. I left thinking that everyone else would stay at enjoi and do their own thing. I even told some riders that if I quit, it would be their chance to influence the company and try to get their salary back so they could stay. So it was very crazy to see everyone else quit too. They saw my post, reposted it and quit and so on. It was pretty freaky, dude. That wasn't the intention. I just personally reached the end. A weight fell off my shoulders, and when I crossed the line. That was kind of it, dude.

Now that your contract is up, can you finally get a new haircut? [Laughs] I've been trying to get my hair cut. I went to Supercuts and got a regular haircut and the stupid thing was I walked out and I was still Louie Barletta. I really thought I could get a haircut and move on. I still have the same sense of humor, the same taste in music. It's not a haircut, it's a lifestyle, man.Are you glad other enjoi riders quit after you? First of all, I didn't tell any of the guys to quit when I did. I didn't even talk to them about quitting. As the leader, I did my best not to complain to the gang. I have to say, though, that I was very transparent with everyone. When Bod Boyle [former president of Dwindle, Enjoi's parent company] resigned in the fall, I held a team Zoom meeting. I told the guys that Bod had left, and I said I didn't think things were going to get better anytime soon, and there's no talk of anyone getting paid yet.

I told everyone to please not stay if they had somewhere to go. Zack [Wallin] and I had already talked and he was ready to quit. So I used him as an example and said to the guys, 'Go if you have a place that will pay you. I'll stay, and if we turn things around, you can come back without being mad at me! I ended the Zoom meeting with three reasons why I wanted to stay. First, because I had seen several CEOs leave the company and it didn't necessarily mean the end. Maybe the new president had a new perspective or a better plan to pay us all. Second, I knew that our current owners already had a strong program with Walmart and great stores.

I wanted to stay to ensure that enjoi would never become a major retail brand. I would do my best to stop any ideas and plans in that direction. And thirdly, fuck it. I was there at the beginning of enjoi and didn't want to see it go under in the hands of the corporation. But to answer your question, when I saw everyone else quit, I didn't feel good, buddy. I felt like I was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was so worried and concerned.... There's all these skaters that have Enjoi tattoos, and damn, we're ending this fucking thing that everyone thought was so great and so fucking cool, and I don't want people to blame me. I thought people were so fucking mad at me. There was even one kid who approached me and showed me his tattoo and said, "Dude, Enjoi is the best thing ever, the time you were in it" and shit. He was so positive about the situation and said, "When I'm depressed I look at my panda tattoo and it reminds me that I'm having fun and a good time, thanks for that. It has helped me a lot.

Can you tell us a bit about the history of enjoi and what has happened to the owners in recent years?

enjoi was owned by Globe for many years, until 2019. People always claimed it was owned by a "corporation", but I walked into the Globe offices in Australia once unannounced and one of the Hill brothers [owners of Globe] came out of the mini ramp area sweating and said, "Louie, mate, I didn't know you were coming over. I skate the ramp on my lunch breaks. I wish I had known you were coming over so we could have done a session together." That blew me away. Here was the "corpo" guy, and he was doing a solo session on the mini ramp during his lunch break! A few years later, we were bought out by a corporation in 2019 and you see what they can do with a brand. So it was bittersweet for me. I don't owe the Globe people anything, but I just want this story to be told because it always pissed me off that some skaters talked shit about Globe being a company. We went through some tough years between 2008 and 2010 where we lost tons of money. I was sitting in a meeting with Gary Valentine [the Chief Financial Officer], we were discussing the budgets for the year or something, and we were arguing a little bit about the budget.

Gary said: "Louie, we're giving you this budget because we love enjoi and because we believe in skateboarding. If we were just business people, we would have just pulled the plug on the brand." And I'll be honest, we survived those years making less than we did last year, so the company was forced to pay all the employees and stop production. How did enjoi have to change after it changed hands and was run by a new large company in 2019? When the new company bought us, we were all just numbers. The best example I can give is this: Last spring we did the "High Wire" demo tour, a little over two weeks on the road, the demos were packed with people, the energy was high. We did a great edit, a Thrasher article, the whole nine yards. When we got home, the next Friday they fired our team manager Jeff Davis. I called Bod [Boyle] right away to complain, and he was beside himself.

The call came from his manager, and the reason given was: "There was no one to fill this position when we took over the company", and that was their justification for firing him. Also, everything was just revenue and forecast driven. When we were owned by Globe, publishing great content was the top priority. With our new owners, it was all about hitting sales targets. The best way to summarize this is as follows: In November, we had a pre-Black Friday sale, a Black Friday sale and then a Cyber Monday sale. We really let it rip in November. With all those sales and the Christmas sales, we made a ridiculous amount of money that month. Now, imagine if the sales target for December is the same as November. Super unattainable. And since we didn't hit the December sales goal, no one on the team got paid!

So you were never the owner of enjoi, right?

You were just an employee, right? Yes, I am a non-exclusive independent contractor. I was hired to run enjoi and skate for enjoi, but I could also work for other brands. I still ride for Krux and I could work for those other brands too, with wheel sponsors, bearing sponsors and all that stuff. I have to ask this question: Who came up with the controversial laundry day idea back then? Do you regret it? I never liked or understood the label, but I'll answer the question as best I can. I didn't come up with the label and I wasn't involved in the development of the brand at the time. I didn't know anything about it until I saw it on a T-shirt. To me it didn't represent what enjoi was about at all. enjoi to me was all encompassing: gay, straight, boy girl, miserable at skating or a ripper, who cares, as long as you were having fun you were part of the crew. One of the first things I did when I took over brand management was to remove that from the production. I suppose it was just a joke. But to me, they are dangerous words aimed at impressionable children. I still have exactly the same sick feeling in my stomach when I see it as I did when I first saw it.

Some people have suggested that this new website and the Jacuzzi Unlimited brand are something you are involved in. Is there any truth to that? Well yes [laughs]. If someone came to you and said we've got a beer, a hot tub and all your buddies.... Wouldn't you want to be part of that? Tell me that doesn't sound like a good time [laughs]. It sounds like the best time. Unlimited! [laughs]. The Jacuzzi thing is honestly just the perfect storm where Jeff Davis [former enjoi team manager] and I started working together. I've worked with people for years where the ideas never come that easily, and we throw thoughts around and mix ideas together. But with Jeff, it was always like two perfectly synchronized gears flowing into each other.

So much so that we're constantly asking ourselves: is this really a good idea or are we both just idiots? (laughs) The ideas, the team, it all came together naturally! Honestly, it feels like the early days of enjoi, where we are no longer controlled by a company and where we don't have to abide by any rules. That's pretty great. People are already making their own T-shirts and stickers. The real enthusiasm is there! It's not like we need a guy from this region or anything. Our buddies all skate together, they're all homies, you know? I've experienced it before... It's something special with all these guys. There's a vibe, there's a connection with all of them. I'm not worried about anyone peeing in the pool. How it actually started... When Jeff Davis got fired, he kind of focused on the hot tub thing. I can't really claim much credit for it except that Jeff came up with the name and we both had the idea that it would be Unlimited, you know? (laughs) Where did the name come from?

I would attribute that to Cairo Foster and Ron Whaley because I went on tour back then and I brought these Dark Side of the Moon shorts, and if the hotel had a hot tub, I was like, "Yeah, dude, I'm going to the hot tub tonight!" Ron and Cairo started calling me "Jacuzzi Lou" and that's how the tour got started and Cairo would ask, "Is Jacuzzi Lou coming on the tour?" I would say, "Oh yeah! I have the Dark Side of the Moon swim shorts". Is that your new brand or a joke?  We've got a team waiting in the wings, mate. There are people itching to do it, and now that I'm officially moving on, it's definitely something we're going to hit the ground running with. We're not going to go garage style, we've spoken to a few people so we can get it right.

I don't need a company so I can sleep at night knowing I'm still a professional. I approach it with the idea that we want to make dreams come true for the next wave of young rippers. And we're not going to be able to do Jacuzzi Barcelona or Jacuzzi Japan by doing it here out of my garage, so there's a lot of backend stuff I'm working on. I'm looking forward to getting started on that.

Now that you're freelancing, would you ever consider driving for Sci-Fi Fantasy?

(laughs) I'm actually on half of a roll. I told Jerry Hsu [owner of Sci-Fi], "I'm willing to ride for Sci-Fi, but you guys don't make 7.5s, so we'll just do our own thing" [laughs]. Have you been offered to drive for other brands in recent years? I mean, in the last 15 years I've gotten offers, but I've never considered any of it because enjoi is my baby, my life. This is all for me. I never took it all seriously, and when I quit last week, I honestly thought I would just chill and do nothing. Wouldn't you get bored if you didn't do anything after enjoying yourself? How could I be bored while skating? Maybe "burnt out" is the right term? You only get burnt out if you do the same thing over and over again. Skating with some of our AMs, even Tony [Latham] who lives here in the Bay Area, there are new spots that I've never seen before and you're always evolving.

I don't train to skate rails, I skate little things, and that's fun. Louie would have laughed at this version of Louie five years ago, like, "You're pathetic, what are you doing?" But it's fun, and you know what, I never look back, that's what keeps you going. So as long as you're not always doing the same thing, skating should theoretically always be entertaining and fun? Absolutely. I said that to a team rider because we were talking about getting older a while ago. The moment I realized I wasn't competing with someone whose name was on a skateboard, skateboarding became a lot more fun. You get so stressed out about being a pro and trying to hold yourself to that standard, and it drives people crazy sometimes. An old friend once said to me, "I'm getting too old to keep up! I laughed and said that skateboarding is something you only grow out of if you think you have to keep up with 15-year-olds. Some days it's a challenge for me to do a kickflip backtail on an edge. Some days it's a challenge just to get out of bed. Of course it sucks when it doesn't come naturally, but it's always fun to challenge yourself! Will there be a time when you finally reveal your true age?

Just tell me when Jenkem needs a really big bump and then we'll reveal the age [laughs]. Let's do a chalkboard graphic. Age reveal graphic Jacuzzi Unlimited. But it's a scratch card! That's the ticket! [Ok, at least tell me your star sign [laughs]. Taurus, of course! I'm always full of Taurus! What would you say to someone who says that it's good that a large number of Enjoi riders have left and it's changed. That brands have a shelf life and if you run them too long they eventually get stale and flabby? Well, I can't comment on enjoi because it's too close to me, but for me brands like 101 are so sick because they only existed for a brief moment, in my childhood. Selfishly, it's mine and no one will age and ruin it or the memory of it. Then look at other brands that have carried on after the core or heart of the brand was gone, and those brands linger and rot.

I don't want to insult anyone who rides for brands, but we all know they should die with dignity. I'm too attached to enjoi, but I think maybe someone will come along and make it a super great thing and then we can all be proud that we rode for enjoi. I know that was one of my main motivations, to try and stay true to the brand and make it something that former riders can still proudly say they rode for enjoi.

How do you feel now, after all these crazy changes in the last few weeks?

As I lay in bed last night, I thought about this. Normally, no one gets to feel the admiration of their peers while they're alive. It's only when you die that you get to feel that admiration that I've experienced in the last few days, and it boggles my mind when I say that.... but it was just phenomenal to feel that. I've been so blessed, it's crazy. But what killed me was that I realized that when I die, someone is going to print my obituary and find out my true age! [Laughs] So I thought, "Shit, I guess I have to keep living, dude! I can't let it go."

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