Member Spotlight: Stephen Malbon
“There’s millions of ways to raise kids. Just do what’s in your heart and you’ll do good.”
Photo: Jake Rosenberg for The Coveteur
What do you do and what led you to this career?
I grew up doing art, and at some point I realized that if you don’t figure out a trade then you’re not going to be able to make money selling art until after you die. So, I went to vocational school in high school for visual communications and that’s where I learned to how to use a Macintosh computer. I learned graphic design early there, I dropped out of high school and went to Colorado for a couple years, and after that, that’s when I really realized that I needed a trade, so I enrolled into the Art Institute of Atlanta.
At school I had to start a layout project, so I laid out a magazine and ended up turning it into a business called FRANK151, that’s still a global publishing [platform]. It’s published in about 10 different languages and it’s taken me all over the world and back. Then, other businesses started with myself and with my wife, [like her] chain of massage boutiques, The Now, and we also have a golf business called Malbon Golf, which is really fun and helping grow the game of golf and make it less snobbish. I did different media stuff in publishing and advertising and marketing, and used all of the stuff that I’ve learned from doing it myself for Toyota, Casio, HBO, and tons of [other] corporate brands I’ve worked on in my career. I’ve learned first-hand how to do a product sketch, how to back content, how to drop date, getting legal check-off, etc. I understand it from a lot of businesses and then I’ve just used all of that learning to start our own businesses.
What is the name and age of your kids?
Luciano is 8 and Remington is almost 7.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a father?
Never being lonely, pretty much. I have two little buddies with me at any time.
And what is the most challenging?
The challenge is that it’s so intense at all times. In the morning — just getting them up and dressed, getting them to eat, getting their homework signed off, brushing their teeth, and getting out the door to class. Then the bell rings, and you get a few hours off while they’re at school. And when they get out of school, I gotta get them to golf practice and rip back and pick up dinner, then come home and eat dinner. Then it’s a fire drill rush to take a shower, put the pajamas on, lay in bed, put down the iPad … it’s just nonstop.
I think the challenge is getting excited about the amazing amount of responsibility you have every day. I enjoy it — you just have to make the best out of it — but it’s every day. It’s not like you can work five days in a row at the office really hard and then collapse for the weekend. You work all week as hard as you can and the weekend’s even harder.
What has been your greatest career achievement thus far?
Right now I have a golf business, Malbon Golf, that’s pretty cool; it’s only been open for a year and half [and it’s getting] people to participate in the greatest game there is: golf. We’ve done a really good job growing the brand really quickly and getting very out there in the golf world, and then the skateboard, art, fashion, and music worlds [have really] adopted it. To grow the game of golf — if one golfer wins and he holds the trophy and someone takes a photo of him well that’s great, but it’s not going to grow the game of golf at all.
The other night there was a Mac Miller tribute at The Greek Theatre and ScHoolboy Q — he’s with Kendrick Lamar and those guys — he came out wearing [our] golf ball sweater and it was broadcast online and globally. Getting [rap stars like] Wiz Khalifa and ScHoolboy Q and [pro skateboarders like] Sean Malto and Erik Koston … getting all of those guys to push golf helps the game, so we are actually helping younger people think golf is less stuffy.
What is your best advice for someone new to your industry?
You have to figure out a way to make yourself be non-replaceable. You have to figure out something that you can do that not everyone else can do, and then you’ll be in a good place. But you know media changes so fast — you have to stay very ahead of it if you’re trying to succeed in media. Media used to be a TV studio and now your phone is a global TV studio. You can shoot a TV show with your phone and you can upload it to [YouTube] and now you’re a global media, as big as HBO is. My advice would be don’t wait to get a deal. Just do media.
What is your best advice for a new dad?
At first, when you’re a kid and you have parents you’re like, “They know everything. They have everything figured out.” When you get older you realize they didn’t really have it figured out either, they just did the best that they could with what they were working with. My advice is just do your best, there’s no real right or wrong. There’s millions of ways to raise kids. Just do what’s in your heart and you’ll do good. It’s not hard. Another thing is somehow your natural instincts kick in. As soon as you have [kids], you’ll know how to do it. It’s like, all of a sudden I’m a dad, I got it. You don’t need a class.
What is your current favorite activity with your kids
I like taking them to school in the morning, I like the whole morning [ritual] making them waffles, getting them swagged out with their outfits. Then I put them in a golf cart and rip through Manhattan Beach and say hi to all of the cross-guards and all the people walking their dogs and then I walk them into class. It’s cool because we get to talk, play music, and party — it’s fun to get them really hyped in the morning to have a good day.
Lyrics to live by:
“Take me back to another morning, to a time so long ago, When the sweet magnolia blossomed, cotton fields as white as snow.” — Catfish John by The Grateful Dead