For the past nine years, skaters, rappers, and hipsters looking to keep fresh have been able to rely on Mighty Healthy. Pulling from various inspirations like New York City, music, popular culture and most of all, skateboarding Mighty Healthy’s founder Ray Mate has created a brand dedicated to supplying consumers with quality goods and urban essentials. The former skater and everything-skate-culture enthusiast proudly does it for the love of it all. “I learned the hard way that you kind of become jaded making a lot of money and doing something that you don’t like,” says Mate. Loving what he does seems to have kept him hungry over the years and that passion doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Here, he talks with Life + Times about staying relevant, how skateboarding taught him how to make something out of nothing and him just wanting to be a good dad.
L+T: How has Mighty Healthy stayed relevant for so long?
RM: What keeps us relevant and on the map and why people still recognize Mighty Healthy is because the product is always good. We try to stay on the same path and try not to follow trends. We use inspirations like New York, fashion, skateboarding, music – it’s culture that fuels the brand.
L+T: How has Mighty Healthy relied on both skate culture and music for inspiration?
RM: Music and skateboarding work hand-in-hand. When you see a skateboard clip they always match up some sort of music with it, right? For us the music always defines what we like at the moment or how the brand is portrayed. It’s almost like the gas for my car. Music is always going to be one of the main influences for the brand. It doesn’t matter if it’s hip hop, if it’s punk rock, if it’s alternative. Anything musical will always inspire the brand. Both worlds are very similar. We’re all in the same gang. Plus skaters always hangout with cool people like artists, musicians and photographers. That’s just the crew they roll with.
L+T: How does not taking things too seriously tie into what Mighty Healthy represents?
RM: We always try to put some humor into it. We have some t-shirts saying stuff like “New York is for Haters” or shirts making fun of auto-tune. We just make fun of what’s going on and make fun of ourselves. We always just try to have fun. In life you got to have fun. You can’t take things too serious.
L+T: Mighty Healthy also represents skaters like Chris Colburn, Connor Champion, Danny Montoya and Pete Elderidge. What qualities does a skater need in order for you to feel like he or she is an accurate representation of the Mighty Healthy brand?
RM: They just have to represent the brand well. The guys that we have now are guys that I think will represent the brand well. For instance, Danny Montoya is very influenced by soulful music. He skates with style. He’s a veteran and he brings innovation to skating and he’s just a pioneer of skateboarding. He’s a legend. It’s the same thing with Pete Elderidge. Pete just has the best style and makes everything look easy. The guys that we represent have some of the best style and just represent the brand well. They’re some of my favorite skaters too.
L+T: Next year will mark ten years of Mighty Healthy. Are there any special things planned to celebrate that milestone?
RM: Our tenth year is going to be lots of collabs. I can’t say too much, but it’s going to be a good year next year.
L+T: You started out as a skater. What are some of things that you’ve learned as a skater that you’ve been able to apply to Mighty Healthy?
RM: You just have to figure it out. You have to keep on falling on your face until you learn how to do it. I think with that mentality you’re going to eventually learn how to figure things out. It’s really about figuring whatever it is out, learning how to do it and doing it as many times as it takes for you to get it right. I wasn’t trained to do a clothing line. I didn’t go to school for it. I actually have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, which is a totally different area. It all comes with the “Do It Yourself” skater mentality. A lot of skaters are good at making something out of nothing. A lot of skateboard companies are owned by skaters who do the artwork, marketing and skate for the company. That’s just the skater’s way.
L+T: A degree in Computer Science doesn’t normally equate to creating a clothing brand. What did you want to be growing up?
RM: I really, really wanted to have my own clothing brand from when I first saw brands like Stussy and the skate shops. The clothing just always looked so different from everything else that was out back then. Gear for skaters just always looked different and looked better, so I always wanted to be involved with clothes, make clothes or do my own brand. That’s really what I always wanted to do my whole entire life. I wanted to work in an industry where I could have a really strong network and make a lot of relationships and be able to build it over the years. Creating a brand and having it motivate and touch other people and seeing it in stores really, really makes me happy.
L+T: It must be an amazing feeling knowing that so many people embrace a brand that you’ve created.
RM: Yeah, especially now with the way the Internet is and how people are connected. I’ll see people in places like Australia, Thailand, London and the Philippines wearing the clothes. They’re skating in my gear. It’s just crazy. Then you see JAY Z rocking it for the opening of the Barclays Center. You just can’t plan on this stuff. It just happens. It’s all just very fulfilling.
L+T: What’s next for Ray Mate?
RM: The next move for me is to become a really good father. That’s really what I want to do. The brand is going to of course continue to grow, but I just really want to be a good dad. That’s it.