San Francisco-based graphic artist Benny Gold was hardly the first teenager to be infatuated with punk rock and skateboarding. He just never gave up on them.
“I fell in love with skateboarding at 10 years old when I was walking into elementary school and this kid with long, flowing red hair smacked his board on the curb,” says Gold. “I couldn’t believe how cool it was, and I went up to him and he helped me get my first skateboard.”
Yet, like many teenagers-turned-adults, Gold found himself on what seemed to be a pretty traditional career track after graduating from design school in the ‘90s, hopping from small design firms to larger agencies, until one day he found himself working an in-house job at a big corporation.
“They don’t tell you what a professional career is really like,” Gold says. “You know, you really think it’s going to be this super artsy, creative thing, and you get into these roles and you’re this junior designer working on things you don’t really care about.”
To remind himself of the reason he fell in love with art and moved to San Francisco, Gold designed a simple sticker—a glider airplane with the mantra “Stay Gold”—and posted it around town on his days off.
“People started recognizing [the stickers], so I made a couple of T-shirts and gave ‘em out at a party,” says Gold. The rest, as they say, is history, and Benny Gold’s eponymous and celebrated streetwear label was born. To this day, the Benny Gold brand has no outside investors or co-owners—the entire project is run by Gold’s family.
“When we say “work’s for jerks’—we call our brand anti-workwear—it really doesn’t mean not to work hard,” says Gold. “It means you should value the stuff you do with your time off-the-clock. Be passionate and work on something that you love and care about. It’s not really about what are you doing for the paycheck.”