As a teenager growing up in 1980s East London, skateboarding provided an escape and an inspiration. E1 might not have been sun-kissed California, but my new passion inspired me to seek out adventures. Aged 18, I started to travel to all those places I'd heard about, travelling back and forth to check out the skate scene in New York City, then out west to California. I met people who inspired me and discovered some great brands that captured the excitement of what the scene was all about. I brought those brands back to the UK, making them available to British skaters, who took them to heart and made them their own.
I started by selling skateboards to skate stores from the back of my car, I then branched out into clothing and footwear. Although it was a business it was more than that for me as I was able to support so many skateboarders, Surfers, Motocross riders and many more by way of product and supporting their journey. Every little helps and free shoes, clothing and travel was always appreciated.
The fun we had was unreal, magazine trips and articles in Sidewalk Surfer and Document, big skateboarding tours with Transworld on board tour buses etc, it was like being a kid and sweet shop mixed with a rock n roll twist.
Many if not all the people from back then are still close friends to this day, which makes all those years so worthwhile and has grown such a great community of friends. As time evolved skateboarding grew into snowboarding, surfing and of course motorcycles, The race bikes, motocross bikes and the custom Harleys. This was the lifestyle I absolutely loved and my time in the US really opened my eyes to this culture.
In 2019, I was hit with a personal bombshell. For a while, my hearing had been deteriorating. Not only that, my balance was off-kilter too, something you're quick to notice when you're involved in these types of sports. It turned out I had a rare tumour growing in my brain, and it was already very large. The specialists wasted no time in operating, but they'd already spelt out the risks. The operation was dangerous, and could result in me dying. On the other hand, if I didn't have the operation I would almost certainly die and it would only be a matter of time.
The news hit me hard, and I went to some pretty dark places. Seeing how scared and upset my family were broke my heart. I really wasn't ready to say goodbye to my wife and kids.
I survived the 12 hour operation, and slowly began to re-learn how to do simple things like walking again. The pain was intense, and my frustration grew, but so too did my determination. I was surrounded by so much love, and I knew I'd been given a second chance. It was time for me to give something back and pay it forward.
This brings me to Vitor, which stands for Victory or to be victorious. This is how I felt when waking from the operation as there was no way I was losing this battle and leaving my wife and children, in my mind this was not gonna happen.
Pay It Forward
The inspiration for VITOR came during those difficult days of recovery. Drawing on my experience working with big-name US brands I wanted to create a homegrown clothing brand that truly reflects UK skate, surf and motorcycle culture.
We put the ethos of Pay It Forward at the heart of everything we do. Our product mix and packaging are 90% sustainable, 100% ethically sourced, materials are organic/recycled and everything we sell gives something back to the planet. We are 90% Sustainable right now and aim to be 100% by the end of 2021.
By partnering with 1% For The Planet, and Eden Reforestation Projects, every time you buy something from our range, a percentage of sale goes to help environmental projects across the globe along with us funding the planting of 10 trees for every item purchased.
Our time here is short, and our planet is precious. I hope reading my story inspires you to grab hold of life, and give a little back.
Keep smiling and Pay It Forward!
Vitor Collective Founder