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Hot 20 2011: Benny Gold, Graphic designer and owner of Benny Gold

The Skater Boy
Benny Gold, 36
Graphic designer and owner of Benny Gold
Photographed by Chad Riley on 16th Street

When Benny Gold graduated from high school in Key West in 1993, he casually informed his parents that he would be moving to California to pursue skateboarding, a sport he’d been devoted to since the fifth grade. “Mom was pissed!” says Gold. “She said I’d better get my ass to college.” So he studied graphic design at Georgia’s Savannah College of Art and Design before finally moving to San Francisco in 1998, at the height of the dot-com boom. Gold created logos for branding firms such as Pentagram and Cook Sherman before taking slower-paced corporate design work at the Body Shop International and Mervyns and devising his own street-wear brand on the side. In 2006, Gold launched his first clothing collection with encouragement from friend and mentor, Keith Hufnagel, designer of the SF-based cult street-wear line, Huf. Gold’s initial public offering—four T-shirts, a sweatshirt, and a cap—has since morphed into a full-fledged lifestyle collection that sells in nearly 100 stores nationwide. Think skateboards, iPhone cases, preppy button-downs, varsity jackets, and perfect-fit denim jeans (“Not too skinny, in case you need to run from the cops,” he says). These days, Gold and his wife, Hiromi, are new parents to daughter, Rumi Sailor, now eight months old. “I have a stronger drive to work hard and grow my business,” says Gold. “But it’s hard when all I want to do is be with my baby.”

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