Magic Wax evolved from the mind of a 16-year-old Mississippi skater while working on a bee farm.
While many 16-year-olds are worried about getting their driver’s license or who to take to prom, Matthew Holifield was doing something most adults wouldn’t dare—starting a new business.
Holifield moved to Laurel in 2011, but for a teenager interested in skateboarding, it wasn’t the best town to call home. With the nearest skate park over 45 minutes away in Petal and without a means of transportation, Holifield was often stuck at home. But thanks to his friend and right-hand man, Noah Gower, a ride to the skate park was never more than a phone call away. The money for gas, on the other hand, was a different story.
Holifield started earning extra money by making bars of skateboard wax, a substance skateboarders rub on curbs, rails or stairs to reduce friction between the board and object, to sell to other kids at the skate park. However, the time came when Holifield needed a real job.
“My mom couldn’t afford the gas money for me to go to the skate park anymore, and I didn’t have a car, so I needed something within walking distance of my house,” he said.
He began working as a farmhand on Kemp Bush’s farm near his home. A few of his duties included bush hogging, tending the garden and most importantly, beekeeping. Little did Holifield know that these bees would open up a honeycomb of opportunities for his future.
One hot summer’s day, wearing two pairs of pants, tube socks, and the top of a beekeeping suit equipped with gloves and a hat, Holifield was tending bees when he made a discovery.
”It was like wearing a winter coat in the middle of summer, so sweat’s just dripping down my face,” he recalled. “I feel like I’m going to pass out, and I look down at this wax. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Why isn’t it melting?'”
Regular wax at the skate park would turn into a puddle of useless goo within only a few minutes of coming into contact with the scorching concrete. That’s when Holifield had the idea to mix beeswax into his own homemade wax to prevent melting.
That day Holifield scraped extra shavings off of the hive and began working to test his theory. After a week of trial and error, Holifield arrived at a product that is known to the skateboarding world today as Magic Wax.
Now, at 19, Holifield is the founder and owner of Magic Skateboard Wax Company, where he controls every aspect of the growing business himself, excluding the occasional help from Gower.
“I got lucky,” he explained, “I had no idea I would be working with bees, let alone make some skateboard wax. Everything that’s happened so far, it’s just like it was meant to be.”
Not only is Magic Wax a skater -owned and operated business; it’s also a skater named business.
“Magic Wax wasn’t just a made up name. It was something that naturally came about,” Holifield said. “No one had ever used wax like mine before, so when they tried it, they would literally slip out and fall because it was so slick. They’d come to me and say, ‘Dude, that’s magical!'”
In the early days of Magic Wax, Holifield recalls multiple occasions when skaters would try a trick time and time again with no success. “I would come behind them when they weren’t looking, and just do one swipe with the wax, and they’d land it next try,” he said laughing.
Holifield credits much of his success to the uniqueness of his product. The star component of Magic Wax, 100 percent pure beeswax, has a melting point of 147 degrees farenheit, which makes it completely resistant to melting on hot concrete in the midst of summer, unlike other skateboard waxes.
“With skateboard wax, there’s nothing that sets each one apart from the next, except for the color or mold used to make the wax,” said Holifield. “As far as quality, it’s all the same… I’ve gotten to the point where I am today by having professional riders on my team because my product stood out. It’s something new and different.”
In order to succeed in the skateboarding industry, a company needs professional riders to represent its brand in order to reach a larger audience and build credibility. It didn’t take long before Magic Wax was being talked about by skateboarders around the country, including Holifield’s first professional rider, Sierra Fellers. Much to Holifield’s surprise, Fellers saw an Instagram comment Holifield left on his page, and Fellers was all aboard the Magic Wax train.
“He sent me an email and basically said, ‘Hey, your company is awesome. I want to ride for you.’ Just like that,” Holifield recalled.
Holifield now has six riders representing his brand, including two professionals, but he still gets excited when someone new joins the team. However, with his brand’s increased success, Holifield has the luxury of picking and choosing.
“I’ve got pro skateboarders that want to be on my team and I’ve literally turned them down because I’m looking for a certain image now. Beforehand, I would have never done that,” he explained.
Holifield entices riders to join his team by stressing the quality and rarity of his product.
Magic Wax is now sold all over the U.S. through a distribution company called Eastern Skateboard Co. in North Carolina. The product is also carried in skateboard shops in New Zealand, Japan, China and the UK. Yet Holifield has never paid a single dollar for advertising, even though he has maintained his small-town homebase. His entire business model is based on word of mouth.
“It’s kind of cool because I’ll put a dot on the map where I’ve shipped an order, and you can actually see the word of mouth because all these little dots will pop up in surrounding towns,” Holifield explained.
Recently the buzz around Magic Wax has been so loud, even Amazon has contacted Holifield to set up distribution. Holifield has been busy equipping his labels with barcodes in order for Amazon to sell Magic Wax to their customers and is excited for what opportunities this could bring for the future expansion of the Magic Wax brand.
Along with his world-renowned wax, Holifield also has stickers and a line of graphic T-shirts. In the future, he has hopes to design a clothing line separate from Magic Wax with button down shirts, hats and socks. And now that he owns a commercial property in Hattiesburg, a skateboard shop could also be in Holifield’s future.
“It really just depends on me and my own money now,” he said.
When most people go into business, the main goal is profit, profit, profit. However, Holifield says that’s not the case for him, especially with Magic Wax being $1 a bar. “It’s not just about money, it’s a hobby too. When my business grows, it’s an achievement, more people know about something I created…. I’m just trying to strive to get it as big as it can possibly be. I want the day to come where I have a nice house and everything I want, and it was all built off of myself.”
Holifield gives credit to one other person for the creation and success of Magic Wax, and that’s Noah Gower.
“Noah would drive all the way from Hattiesburg to Laurel to come pick me up and take me to Wal-Mart to get bubble wrap so I could ship orders or card stock paper to make labels. He’s always had my back. Without Noah coming to pick me up and take me to skate park or wherever, I may have gotten depressed, and who knows, Magic Wax could have never happened.”