New Fallen Owner Talks Strategy for Rebooting the Brand
Today we talk with new Fallen Footwear Owner Ronnie Mazzei of Town Connection and Head of Marketing Chad Foreman about the strategy behind the return of Fallen.
Fallen was started by skater Jamie Thomas, but the brand eventually was shuttered in 2016.
Why did you acquire Fallen Footwear?
Ronnie Mazzei: Our relationship with Fallen Footwear started back in 2011 and due to the success in Argentina, we became the first licensee for the brand.
In 2016 when Fallen decided to shut down the business, it motivated us to find a way to continue with the brand that we love very much. At that point, the brand was already in the hands of and owned by their old footwear factory in Asia, someone who we already knew, so we began negotiations to purchase Fallen and that took nearly a year to complete.
We simply love the brand, the logo, the name, the history and we think that Fallen is in a position now to re-launch successfully!
What is your experience in the skateboard industry?
Ronnie Mazzei: Town Connection started its business in 2008 selling hardgoods like Plan B, Baker and more.
In 2009 we signed our first licensee agreement with O ́Neill, the very next year we decide to also introduce skate footwear.
Nowadays we’re a mid-size company with 55 employees and are motivated to continue our global expansion.
What is the global opportunity for the brand? What regions will Fallen sell in? Do you have distributors in place?
Ronnie Mazzei: Fallen has a huge fan/customer base and is still recognized worldwide. We will stay focused on creating the right product that people want to buy, wear and skate, and also always keep our promises and support the team 100%.
With all of the marketing efforts being managed and handled by Two Two4 Media, Fallen has already been able to reach way more previous customers and shops/retailers than expected.
We currently have distributors reaching out to us from all over the world and they just want Fallen back. Some will be sourced by local distribution partners, while others we will set up as a licensee or partnership.
Vans and Adidas have been dominating the market. How are you feeling about relaunching with such stiff competition that has deep pockets?
Ronnie Mazzei: We are not worried or focused on what any other brand is doing, we are going to do this our own way, the way Fallen has always operated.
The skateboarding industry is a very passionate community and we’re all in this together, competitors or not. We will stay focused on our own goals and wish everyone else much success as well.
Questions for Chad Foreman
Tells us about your history with Fallen.
Chad Foreman: Jamie Thomas and I grew up together in Dothan, Alabama. I moved here to San Diego in 1999 to help him start Black Box Distribution.
As Black Box grew, Jamie had the idea to start Fallen Footwear in 2003. I was the Director of Marketing and General Manager at Black Box for 15 years, so my history runs about as deep as it gets.
When Ronnie reached out to me regarding being a part of the re-launch, I could not say no. I love the brand probably more than you should love shoes, but it’s a healthy emotion and I’m focused on making this re-launch as successful as possible.
How will you position the brand in the market? Will it go after the same niche or will it evolve?
Chad Foreman: We will pick up right where we left off, but with added experience on what not to do, and a more focused and calculated approach to every decision made.
As I’ve certainly learned over the years, paying attention to the smallest detail is just as important as paying attention to the biggest ones.
Our plan is to reintroduce familiar models for all of the people that want what they remember, while also staying focused on evolving into something much bigger that we weren’t able to achieve the first go-around.
Is Jamie still involved with the brand?
Chad Foreman: No, Jamie now rides for Straye Footwear, but we’ve talked quite a bit regarding the re-launch. In fact, Jamie was the first person I called after I spoke to Ronnie, out of respect for not only Jamie as the original Fallen founder, but also as someone I’ve looked up to and respected my entire life as a friend and businessman.
What team riders are on the Fallen program?
Chad Foreman: Our team will be announced on Monday, February 11th, which is also the day our web store launches. They’ll be some familiar faces, as well as some new ones that will complement Fallen very well.
Editor’s note: the team riders announced yesterday include Tommy Sandoval, Billy Marks and Zach Doelling.
How would you describe the current state of the skate footwear industry?
Chad Foreman: I think there’s definitely room for a brand like Fallen in the footwear industry as a whole and specifically in the skate/lifestyle market.
I’m a very passionate person and also very respectful. I’ve been in the skateboarding industry for well over 20 years now and have so many friends that I’ve worked with at Fallen and Black Box that have gone on to do some amazing things with amazing brands.
Our goal is not to compete with our friends. Our goal is to help elevate the entire industry so that we all grow together.