Noah Johnson_ Why don’t you have any sponsors right now?
Jerry Hsu_ I was interested in not being sponsored. I’ve been sponsored all my life, I’ve been a pro skater for like 20 years, since I was 16, so I got kinda burnt. I was riding for Chocolate Skateboards and I didn’t really feel like that was where I belonged, and didn’t want to just sit there and not participate but then get a check, too. So I told them I was done, and they were like, Okay, cool. And I never really tried to get another board sponsor. And then my shoe sponsor just sort of unceremoniously let me go, and I was like, okay. That’s cool. Fine. That was hard because all my income—half by choice and half not by choice—just evaporated. But luckily I had started Sci-Fi already, so it was filling the gap that skating was providing income-wise. And now I’m just free to do all my creative stuff and I don’t need to worry about skating. But I’m still skating. I just have more choices now. I get to do what I want.
Noah_ After the career you’ve had, it must be nice to have that kind of freedom.
Jerry_ Yeah, I’ve done a lot in skating. I’d given so much of my life to it and it’s great. It gave me everything. Like, my whole life. I was curious as to what it would be like to focus on other things.
Noah_ So Sci-Fi Fantasy didn’t come out necessity because you didn’t have any sponsors, it was already up and running by that point?
Jerry_ It was only out of necessity in a creative way, because I was kinda bummed out. I needed something and other parts of my creative life were at a standstill.
Noah_ It seems to me we’re in the middle of a mini renaissance of skater-owned brands that have a unique perspective and don’t easily fit the model for what a skate brand is. Do you feel like the timing for Sci-Fi has been good?
Jerry_ Back in the day, when someone would start a company, the M.O. was like: get some cash together, some investors or whatever, go to a distribution company or a place that already does this thing, then they put up half, and basically you’re a little bit in debt to a larger entity that is a part of the system. And a lot of people were taken advantage of because of that system. Like Ed Templeton, for example, he doesn’t really own Toy Machine, which is a tragedy. That system is antiquated now. With Sci-Fi, of course I used my notoriety as a skateboarder, but I just spent like $300 and started an Instagram. People online were starting to notice it, and then people on the street would be like, what is that? That’s how I marketed it. I see a lot of companies are like, “Ok, dropping spring 2025!” and all this dramatic preparation, and I wanted to do the opposite. Just make a few things and sneak it into photos. Anyways, to answer your question, it’s really about accessibility and the internet and how much people want new stuff. It’s insane. This company has made me realize how much shit people wanna buy. It's fucking crazy. But yeah, the old platform, those gatekeepers are dead. You don’t have to fuck with them anymore. You can just create an instagram and you have a company. It’s pretty awesome. It also creates a lot of crap, because everyone’s trying to do something and theres a lot of static out there. But if you have a good idea and you have taste and kinda know what you’re doing, just a little bit, you can do pretty good.
Noah_ What are your feelings about growing and expanding? Any interest in making boards and putting together a team?
Jerry_ I do have plans for Sci-Fi, but at the same time, I like how much freedom there is. I decide when growth happens or doesn’t happen. I like that it’s small and I like that it’s rare. I’m not trying to blow it out, because that’s always been something at companies that really bugs me. Like every company I’ve ever skated for, they answer to this higher corporate power, so there’s just this constant demand from people who only see numbers. All that forced expansion creates an environment and culture where creativity and pushing any kind of limits comes second to the dollar. Which is very annoying to me because my ideas were rejected because of this system. And I don’t have that anymore. I can literally put anything on anything and I can do small numbers. That was another thing that was annoying—I’d say, “Can we just make 50 of these?” and it was like, “No, we have to make 50 billion of em.” I don’t want to do that. I just want to make something that’s special. So I’m kinda cagey to the idea of making Sci-fi this huge thing. I like that it’s personal. But that’s not to say I won’t do more. I have a lot of ideas for the future. It’s just going at its own pace.
Noah_ And you’ve been able to remain independent?
Jerry_ All the investment that’s gone in Sci-fi has been my own. I’m the only person in charge. I don’t have to answer to anybody.