Ben Mackey got his first skateboard at just 5 years old from a garage sale. Ben Mackey now owns a couple thousand. Or, sells rather. That first deck he owned would ultimately become his life’s work - re–envisioning a crappy little plastic toy into what is now Penny Skateboards.
The thoughtful Aussie knew his passion was skateboarding, and he made a career of it. Successful companies don’t often, and actually rarely, spawn out of not knowing what the heck you’re doing. But if you can learn it, and do it well, sometimes they work out. Mackey spent part of his adulthood first working at a cabinet manufacturer, before redefining those skills to begin making skateboard decks. He sold them to local shops, and realized he could make a business of his favorite sport.
Penny Cruisers are now widely available all across the globe. The perfected simple, small, plastic skateboard comes in a vast variety of colors (one for every outfit?), and their site is even host to the Penny Customizer – design your own board. The brand has expanded and now offers accessories and additional products. With 257k Facebook followers, it’s safe to say that Mackey’s passion has become infectious. And lucrative.
According to a 2014 consumer study done by the NPD Group, there is a lot of money in socks. A lot like $2.8 billion a lot. Skullcandy founder Rick Alden was in tune to the future potential of the respectively boring accessory and in 2003 launched Stance Socks. Already a successful business man and entrepreneur, Alden had a leg up on the competition and brought to market something that hadn’t been seen before at scale – high quality, well-designed socks, specifically design for the action sports industry.
The results were quite a success, and even more so recently. As of April 2015, Stance Socks are now the official on-count sock (yes such a thing exists) of the NBA. The company has collaborations with the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball Association, Dwayne Wade – and that is on top of the strong action sports foothold they started with.
Stance founder Alden has proven that the lightening bolt of inspiration can strike twice - and strike lucratively.