D’escargot is a Miami-based skate and streetwear brand founded by Andre Smith in 2012. With products like skateboard decks, skate wax, hats, shirts, and hoodies, Descargot has been spotted with Tyreek Morrison and Drugrixh Peso.
Andre talks about the beginnings of the brand and the importance of skate culture in the interview below.
How did the brand start? What was the first idea?
I’m a visual person. When I started the brand, I wasn’t doing much but I wanted more. In high school, I collected wallpapers with different designs like Pokémon. A friend said that I should take the designs and put it on a t-shirt. I tried to come up with my own idea, I thought what can I put on a t-shirt for a brand, a bee, a bear? None of the ideas came to me at first and I didn’t want my creation to be something that people just look at and bat their eyes to.
In the midst of frustration, God helped me and I thought “ice cream snail”. I rejected it at first because it seemed weird and odd. I tried to draw an ice cream snail but it didn’t come to life the way I wanted to. I went to Ross with my girlfriend and her mom and I explained my frustration. My girlfriend’s sister said she would draw the design for me. She drew my very first snail design and that was the beginning. I had to get some extra money, I worked at Abercrombie for exactly 2 months. I bought 50 t-shirts, sold them and flipped $300 to $1000. I felt great because it opened me up to a different sense of reality. I had a good feeling when I figured out that I can control my life.
What inspired you to start the brand?
I started the brand in the direction of what I love. Skateboarding has always been something I liked. My overprotective Jamaican mother would never let me buy something that can hurt me. When I worked at Publix, I started hanging around someone who pushed me towards what I love/like and what I feel natural in. Being on my board feels liberating. It wasn’t something I cared for until someone opened my eyes.
What’s the meaning behind the name D’escargot?
To be honest, it was really simple. Escargot is the French word for snail and I threw a D in front of it. I thought, “I got an ice cream snail what do I call it, ice cream snail”? It couldn’t have been with an E or Z.
How did the brand expand?
I started making skate wax and giving out my own product. My cousin helped me connect with people who skate with Lil Wayne. I thought of a strategy…product placement. I gave the product to people who have a platform and use it. The wax is easy and a cost-effective product. I thought that the skate community would appreciate it. Wax is necessary to grind on ledges, hit rails, and slide on sidewalks. I gave the wax to Vice Skate, Pretty SB in Georgia, and TFMIA in Miami. Customers appreciated the product. My wax is a twist top container where you can maintain its use and it doesn’t dry out. You can twist it out and retrieve it back in, easy and simple to use.
What would you like to do for the skate community?
To be honest I want to impact and be there for the skate community. The community is already solid and genuine. They know what they are, what they stand for and what they believe in which is skateboarding. Skateboarding is not just what juvenile delinquents do. It’s progressive for the mind, body, and soul. It teaches faith, consistency, and determination. When you learn that within, you can apply it to something else. You can apply that concept to academics. People don’t understand that a lot of prominent brands started with skateboarding like Stüssy, Supreme, and Billionaire Boys Club. Skateboarding has been the original trendsetter.
What’s next for D’escargot?
I’ve got to say this shit is a process and I thought about what my end goal is. I want to keep my brand going. If everything works out with clothing, I can expand to technology or something automotive. There is always room to learn something else and to grow. I’m just trying to be a wholesome person. The real goal is to inspire other people to aspire, especially young black men. I strongly believe in the “I am my brother’s keeper” concept.
The one message I do want to spread to everybody is that everyone forgets that you are your brother’s keeper. In order for one man to get to the next level, he’s going to need help from another man. The same thing goes for women and I see a really big support movement where all women uplift each other and empower each other and I see them turn out better for themselves. I just want the same for my brothers, my black brothers.
I love culture and all things creative. Self-expression and self-exploration are highly regarded. As a sociology major, I fell in love with the concept of culture and its effect on creativity. In 2015, I created my website to post the products of imagination and personality.