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Emerson-Born Stede Threads Recycles Old Skate Decks Into Hats

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In Behind the Brand we uncover the stories behind New England's brightest emerging brands and look ahead to what their future holds.

When Sam Fishman's mother begged him to toss his old skate decks, the Brookline native and Emerson College student couldn't bear to part with the sentimental pieces of wood. So instead, he drafted a business plan to recycle boards into laser-etched logo pieces, hand-sewn onto style-minded hats under the label Stede Threads. With the mantras that "skate decks all have a story," "keep skateboarding on your mind," and "wear your scars," Fishman enlisted the help of a wood miller in Walpole and friends in the MassArt fashion department to outfit headwear with the Stede detail, custom hand-letter woven labeling, hand-lettered felt appliqués, and embossed leather straps.

His idea came to life in Emerson's E3 entrepreneurial program. "The nature of skateboarding is self expression and creative, so why not do it with hats?" says Fishman. Partnering with local skate shops Orchard (Allston and Newbury Street) and Maximum Hesh (Davis Square) to sell his pieces ($20 for a beanie, $30 for a camper, and $44.99 for a wool cap), Stede Threads is truly a Boston-bred brand.

How are you collecting skateboards?
We collect the skateboards locally from my connections within the community. I also pick up boards from Orchard that people end up leaving when they replace the deck. We cut the boards locally, and as of now, I'm just hand sewing the pieces.

Do you have experience sewing or did you have to learn it as you developed Stede?
I didn't really have any experience, so I have friends at MassArt in the fashion department that have helped with say, the woven labels using a sewing machine. As far as hand-sewing, it's become easier and it's still an aggravating, involved process at times, but I enjoy it.

What do you hope to do with this? Expand into other product categories?
The goal is to diversify the product line. I'm thinking cut-and-sew where the buttons are made from recycled skateboards. We're trying to build out of Boston and give back to the community here, put money back into local skatepark development and teach how skateboarding can be such a positive influence on your life. I've taught skateboarding at a camp and know it's a great way to show kids how to fall, get back up, and take risks.

What's the vision for giving back to the community?
There's a DIY spot near Cleveland Circle, built by skateboarders, so we're thinking about developing that a little more. And we are working with some people at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC) in Jamaica Plain to organize an event this summer at a DIY skate park over there for kids. Once I'm out of school for the semester I'll have time to plan that side of the business further.

Tell us about your fishbone logo.
Initially it was something I had been drawing a lot. It represented the bare-bones value of the brand: utilizing the old skateboards, stripped of their graphics and art but it's essentially the same thing and super real. Also, my last name is Fishman, so that ties in. But also the circular nature of it, trying to keep skateboarding full circle and within the community.
· All Behind the Brand posts [Racked Boston]
· Stede Threads [Official Site]