Can you guess?
Incredible, yes. But this actually happened.
Michael Crawley is a marketing guy and handler for Dane Reynolds who was cut loose by his employer Quicksilver after 10 beautiful, mutually beneficent years.
Crawley has dark brilliant eyes and aura of other-worldness about him (he’s an excellent photographer, also) but even his famous charisma couldn’t stay his execution during one of those periodic rounds of blood-letting that have come to characterise the brand.
With his and gal Tenielle’s redundancy cash (she was tapped from Roxy during the purge), the pair used $54,000 to start a sunglasses label called Valley.
And, now, well, you can just look!
Katie Holmes, Chris Hemsworth, Johnny Depp, Maz Manson, Kat Von D, Margot Robbie all wear ‘em. It was also reported that the famous Kardashian family will soon stock Valley in their chain of clothing boutiques called DASH.
How did Crawley get Valley onto so many famous eyes and beaks? I had to ask!
(Note to reader: this is an unpaid endorsement. Hyperbole aside just for the moment, I think it’s amazing to rise from the ashes of unemployment and the despair of poverty to just… nailing it.)
BeachGrit: You’ve become such a celeb whore? Who y’been screwing to get ‘em to wear your specs?
Crawley: Mate, come on. I’m not really sure why the celebs have been so into Valley. Maybe it’s the silhouettes and they want to be noticed. A lot of the musicians and celeb types talk among each other and they know I’m cool to make custom frames or get them into their own tinted lenses or custom variations so it has kinda become a bespoke eyewear thing for a lot of them. Marilyn Manson has about thirty pairs of custom aviators with all kinds of wild tints. Johnny Depp got some yellow tints. Debra Messing got a bunch of opticals. I just did some custom tinted aviators for Chris Hemsworth. I also made some custom coloured frames in Slayer red and black for Kerry King’s wife Ayesha with inverted crosses on the face. Sure is fun to make them one-off pieces.
BeachGrit: Got some advice on how to get a celeb using your gear?
Crawley: Talk to them. We don’t use a PR company. If they want to talk to us they talk to me directly. I feel like that connection with us directly makes a huge difference/ All the celebs are friends of friends or connected by associates so it’s an organic connection which goes a long way. Plus I’m a nice guy. Ha!
BeachGrit: Are you really in the Kardashian stores? How’d you swing that?
Crawley: Yeah, the DASH stores have picked us up for all their stores across the USA and our line drops in there next week. They have a crazy following so let’s see how that goes…
BeachGrit: Who’s your fav Dash? Something about Khloe kicks me good. And Kendall? What a transformation! If you weren’t tied down like an anchor who would you squat down on one of your chubby knees to marry?
Crawley: Ha! You’ve lost it. Chubby knees, are you high? Kylie is the best one for sure…
BeachGrit: What does it take to get a biz where you are? You’re a driven sonofabitch, I know that much. Do you ever take no for an answer?
Crawley: Nope, if you take no then it means you give up easily. Mate, it’s all about being unique and creating a seriously good quality product. If you make a dope product people will come back for more or tell 10 friends, “Fuck, those Valley frames are insane, the quality is out of hand.” The power of the people is the key. You can’t fool consumers these days. Making a successful business takes a long list of points but also you have to give it 110% at all times …
BeachGrit: Were there naysayers when you were starting, saying it couldn’t be done, crowded market etc?
Crawley: For sure. People said we were crazy blah blah blah and that’s cool and I could see their point but we have a unique product that’s been accepted well by the market we have hit… I know that what we do isn’t for every one which is cool and I can appreciate that… but… we also have a strong following of people that do love what we are doing and are dedicated valley fans or followers that wait for every new product we do which is really insane…
BeachGrit: Was it about the Quik talent pool? You and Tenz doing Valley, Blackwood doing his XMax thing, Ryan and Need Essentials, Strider owning the commentator sphere. Was it a wonderful place to work?
Crawley: Yeah, it’s crazy the talent pool that came out of there. Casey Egan does this denim line too called Deconstructed Indigo Garments and I reckon these black tapered jeans are the best jeans on the planet. They’re fuckin mind blowing. And, yeah, Scanno’s NEED stuff is dope as well. Quiksilver was a cool place for a little bit. I feel like they knew how to spot talented people to put into their business but they never knew how to utilise it to its full potential. Or maybe there were too many old dogs in there that would get their noses outta joint if a young guy wanted to do something wild which was out of their comfort zone.
It was a great learning tool for us. It showed me to encourage people to look outside the box and when you’re uncomfortable with something maybe that’s a good thing.
I work closely with an artist in LA named Jesse Draxler and he does a bunch of artwork for us and I never give him a brief. He knows my brand look and feel and I let him just go wild with my imagery or whatever and create these pieces and we don’t fuck with it and it is so raw but so fucking insane it fits right in perfectly and creates a unique side of what we do.
If the old guys at Quiksilver embraced their employees and encouraged them they’d have NEED basic wetsuits which have sold like wildfire, Casey’s insane jeans and product, Valleys eyewear collection and optics and much more from past employees.
With their dollars and distribution could you imagine the revenue that could have generated on those three products just there alone? Jesus! Someone fucked up didn’t they.
BeachGrit: You getting bites to buy the company? I hear stories that include the world “million.” Tell me!
Crawley: Right now, I’m just focussing on working on our next collection and 2016. But, yeah, we have had interest. Rumours, mate! I have no complaints right now that’s for sure!