How Tony started his career
As a 17-year old high school senior, Tony’s annual income surpassed that of his teachers, mostly as a result of royalties from his primary sponsor, Powell Peralta skateboards. He was able to buy his first home before he graduated. Through the late ‘80s, he traveled the world, skating demos and contests. Then, in 1991, the sport of skateboarding died a quiet but sudden death. Tony’s income shrank drastically; times were so lean that he survived on a $5-a-day Taco Bell allowance.
But while many of his peers moved on to other, more traditional pursuits, Tony never gave up on the sport he loved. The next few years flew by in a blur of financial uncertainty. Confident that skating would rebound, Tony refinanced his first house and with a friend launched his own skateboard company, Birdhouse Projects. The first few years were rough: Birdhouse wasn’t making money, and Tony’s future was sketchy.
But, almost as abruptly as it died, skating’s popularity surged skyward, and the Hawk became the Phoenix. Birdhouse grew into one of the biggest and best-known skate companies in the world, and Tony signed a wide range of endorsement deals. In 1998, he and his family started a children’s skate clothing company called Hawk Clothing. A year later, skating rocketed to unprecedented heights, from which it has yet to descend. Tony’s career came with it; in fact, he provided much of the fuel.