UNIT FOUNDER EVEREST FINDS HIS MOJO AT ZAKAZUKHA
Written on the 9 October 2014 by Nick Nichols
PAUL Everest, the man who with his brother Ian built streetwear label Unit Industries into a multi-million-dollar global organisation, is back doing what he does best for a Gold Coast marketing agency.
Everest – who labels himself title artist, creative director, branding specialist and imagineer – has joined the Burleigh-based Zakazukha to beef up the agency’s creative offering.
And the former Young Entrepreneur of the Year tells Gold Coast Business News that he couldn’t be happier.
Everest (pictured left in front of one of his murals) says his time at the helm of a global company effectively led to burnout, and he found himself increasingly turning to his love of contemporary art to bring balance back to his life.
“When you run a global business with 100 staff there is only so much energy you can offload to maintain that, so you get burned out,” Everest says.
“The art side of my life took over a couple of years ago and, mentally, I had become more interested in art than action sports.”
The Everest brothers hit financial trouble earlier this year when Unit Industries was placed in the hands of receivers.
The company was hit by tightening margins in the competitive world of fashion retailing, along with the collapse of some of the group’s biggest customers in the US.
“The world turned and the US economy struggled,” says Everest.
“Big customers owed us more than $1 million dollars and we learned a lesson in extending credit. The ambitiousness that got us big in the first place got us undone in the end.”
Unit Industries was a classic rags-to-riches story, established with a starting capital of just $300 in 2002 in the Everest family home’s garage.
In 2013, the Everest brothers were listed by BRW as having a personal fortune of $22 million.
Since the business collapsed, Everest says he has been looking for a job and has had many knockbacks from potential employers who saw him as overqualified.
Zakazukha owner Bruce Nelson saw it differently, describing Everest as one of Australia’s best action sports and contemporary graphic designers.
Everest will be working with the firm’s long-standing designer Elaine Fang for major clients including Mercedes Benz and BMW.
Zakazukha says Everest will provide a new level of service for its clients, including bespoke art, photography, advertising and branding campaigns.
“Best known for his cutting-edge designs (including a campaign that was banned by the Advertising Standards Bureau), Paul has always been able to ‘read’ a target audience and deliver cut-through communications,” says Zakazukha.
The firm highlight’s Everest’s breakthrough campaign in 2009 to promote awareness of swine flu.
Everest positioned a model in a mask featuring Unit’s branding in front of a pig in a butcher’s cool room.
The image was beamed on the billboard in New York’s Times Square which caught the eye of US clothing giant PacSun.
Everest has since collaborated with Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee on a range of streetwear.
The accomplished contemporary artist is currently exhibiting his art at the Gold Coast’s Urban Paradise Gallery in Surfers Paradise.
Everest, a father of three, describes his art as “politically motivated and designed to make you think”.
“There has been a turnaround in the art community. People these days are not interested in landscapes and design art - they want meaning, dialogue and something eye-catching.”
He says he has sold a number of works which also have generated interest from art dealers.
The Urban Paradise Gallery is located in the Galleria retail centre next to the Outrigger Surfers Paradise. The exhibition is expected to run for another three weeks.
Author: Nick Nichols