Skating around the Caribbean with Good Times Familia
Photograph by Brian Goglia
It’s a quiet Sunday evening in Barbados and I find myself sitting at a round table populated with art by artist Malcolm-Emilio with music by Haleek Maul filling my ears. A friendly group of visitors walk into the warmly lit bar and sit beside me. We discuss the differences between the islands they had recently visited, their love of skateboarding and where to find the best flying fish on the island (other than Oistins).
Now I’m not going to talk about the conversation that we had that night, that would take away its spontaneity but I will share with you some stories from Brian about their group Good Times Familia from how it started to their favourite fruit. Hoping that you will feel just as inspired as I did after our conversation.
How did the company come in to being?
This question brings back the best memories. We started out after a really humble trip my good friend Gary and I took to Cuba in March of 2017. We were cruising around the LES in NY and out of pure hype and curiosity we decided to go, and Gary bought the plane tickets the next day.
We brought a few skateboards down on the plane with us to give away, thinking we'd probably run into some kids who skate, and we were definitely right. By straight coincidence, the hostel we were posted at was right next to a skate spot where kids were cruising every day. After meeting the best people who took us all around Havana (shoutout Luis, Joha, Guiellermo and Roberto from that very first trip) and catching the energy of the skate culture down there we knew we’d be coming back.
When I got back to NY I was talking to Kika (co-founder) about it and our good friend Humerya , and all 3 of us were just like "Yo we should do this for real and hook up skaters with gear, boards and support them". Just on some super mellow like - we have the resources why not? - type of vibe. And after taking the next trip as a real crew with a mission we've been moving and growing since.
“Once I started skateboarding the world became limitless.”
Coming up, trying to fit in, playing sports or school it always felt that I was doing things to please other people and fit their expectations. When I discovered skateboarding it blew my head off; it's totally up to the individual what they do when they hop on their board. There are no rules other than like, don’t get hurt - and even that is a big part of skateboarding - bailing and missing a trick and falling on your face can be considered an art form.
It has always been so cool and exciting – I discovered the best music from skate videos, and it opened my mind to see everything from so many different perspectives all at once. It has brought me all around the world and introduced me to so many different people. It has kept me out of trouble and never let me down. And I'm not even that good at it! Words don't paint a clear enough picture but once I started skateboarding the world became limitless , and to share that with other people is such a gift. I don't take it for granted.
What is your company aim?
We support, grow and connect global creative communities in the diaspora through skateboarding and the arts. We offer donations of material goods - boards, shoes, clothes, paint etc- and serve as a traveling youth program providing mentorship, exposure, events and competitions, music cyphers/concerts ; anything that teaches and empowers unique creative passions and expression.
What is your company purpose?
To be a resource that empowers underserved and isolated communities to join in the conversation and work together to build a more beautiful future. We are rooted in the values of skate culture and self-empowered "DIY (do it yourself) ethos" and we pass that along to everyone we work with. The idea is that through example we'll inspire others to bring their own "Good Times" to the world and color outside the lines.
Where is your business located?
Our headquarters is in Brooklyn NY, but we do most of our work traveling.
Video by Brian Goglia
Do you have Caribbean Heritage? If yes, state what islands.
Though I don’t have any direct blood lineage to the Caribbean. I feel grateful to have a ton of chosen family and team members who are Caribbean. There’s an undeniable connection and energy that I feel with the islands, especially in Cuba - strangers and people I just met were calling me Camilo as a nickname saying I look/remind them of him haha. I wish. But [there were] a ton of coincidences that make me feel so close to that island in particular. But anyway ...
What is your favourite project that you have worked on so far ?
It'd be nearly impossible to give a definitive answer to this - everyone we've worked with has given so much, and reflecting on it all leaves me in disbelief. What sticks out in my mind most vividly at this moment is having the opportunity to take a quick mission to the east side of Barbados and drop donations off to an OG on the Island who has been skating for years. He has been mentoring a group of kids in his community and teaching them about skateboarding. I felt so humbled to be able to share space with them and offer any kind of support to the kids he works with. Having someone let you into their life in any way is such a gift, and to be able to feel their energy and talk eye to eye for the love of skateboarding sticks with me.
What Caribbean Islands have you worked in so far?
We've done work in and with the people of Cuba, Barbados and the Dominican Republic thus far. Its so hype to see the skate culture grow in the Caribbean, with the best style.
What was your favourite food in the islands you visited?
No question la madrina Maribel's rice and beans. She's the mother of one of our best friends and team managers in Cuba and her cooking is amazing.
What was your favourite fruit in each island?
I’m gonna say breadfruit wins for the whole region haha. Is it even a fruit ? I don't know, but either way I love it.
When moving around the Caribbean what did you find was the biggest differences between islands ?
The history, with so much in common, but resulting in such distinct and different culture between each island. Islands can appear to be right next to each other but life appears worlds apart. It was really interesting to learn that the geographical position where Barbados sits protects it from major hurricanes and you can see the result of that on the island in comparison to other places.
What common trends did you find in terms of the culture?
For sure a more laid-back approach to life.
Delicious, fresh food and fresh style.
Community, people love to be together.
What common trends did you find in terms of people?
Caribbean people throughout my life, in NY and in my travels, have been so open and welcoming, full of life and strong. I’ve learned so much from so many beautiful people, and reached deep depths spiritually and through personal connections. Strong roots and big hearts.
What do you guys have in store for the future that you would like to share?
Prior to the world coming to a stop we were getting ready to go on tour hosting a number of fundraising and donation-based events. Headed to a few cities around the United States to bring the community together and gather donations to bring with us back to the Caribbean. We're also expanding programming and spaces focused on health and well being, looking to teach and promote nutrition and ways to keep your mind body and spirit right. The goal is to collaborate with local business owners, skate crews, artists and activists and grow communities with everything we do.