Neil Clemmons Harrison is the man behind Americana-influenced brand Stormy Monday. A unique company featuring a range of wares such as: reclaimed wood skate boards, cutting boards, surf boards & fins, wooden kitchen utensils, tool boxes and most recently, selvage (Cone Mills White Oak) denim jeans. Each creation of Harrison’s is hand numbered and cataloged in a personal notebook. It’s a ritual that seems to give the pieces their own identity and lineage.
Having begun his professional career at the age of 19 in the Art department at Quicksilver this eventually led to assisting with the launch of Volcom where he worked for close to 13 years as the company’s Creative/Design Director. It was a fulfilling ride, but one that ultimately ran its course. From the ashes of corporate life, Stormy Monday was eventually born. There seems to be an unspoken appreciation and respect, on Neil’s part, for the slow and deliberate pace his hobby-turned-full time venture has been taking. There’s simply no rush and to that end, you’re not likely to find Stormy Monday in many retail shops. Neil has essentially been making items for special order or for a select few stores that share a similar mind set. Shelter Half in Los Angeles, for one, remains a primary local distributor of the SM line. He’s also recently forged a relationship with Beams in Japan. Select pieces can be found at Imogene + Willie in Nashville, TN and City & Sea Trading Co. in Long Beach, CA.
A fact that I found particularly resonant is that the craft of wood working is something that Harrison embarked on at the onset of Stormy Monday – as opposed to it being handed down or a life long pursuit. Perhaps it’s this spontaneous approach to the craft that gives Stormy Monday it’s organic purity and innocence. Another unique brand aesthetic is the nod to Fine Art that seems to permeate certain pieces. As example, a loose, hand stained finish on one deck that I happen to own was inspired by the abstract expressionist Franz Klein and an upcoming tee shirt has a subtle Bauhaus design. These are influences not often found on items of this kind.
One distinguishing feature of Stormy Monday’s reclaimed skate decks is the blessing that Neil brands into each one. Influenced from an early age by Native American culture, the blessing (composed in Spanish: “Me Gustaria Agradecer A Este Arbol Al Dar Vida Por Me”) is his way of offering thanks to Nature which gave of itself for each board that he ultimately renews. If you sit with Harrison for a bit you start to realize that this seemingly simple blessing in many ways underscores his over arching ethos and outlook on life. There is a genuine reverence for Nature and it appears to inform most, if not all, of Stormy Monday.
Nestled in a wooded pocket of the Montecito hills, Neil’s home/workshop is situated under a canopy of Oak trees. Trees that he finds both grounding and protective. It’s a location that Harrison had always hoped to find at some point in his life and seems truly humbled that he’s just recently chanced upon this very spot. It’s hard not to feel that it has quickly become a major creative inspiration behind both the company and the man.
Photos by: Devin Sarno