King Souls: An Interview with Andrew Kingery

Everyone knows a blader who claims they could “do it better” than the rest, if only someone would give them the chance. Andrew Kingery learned that if he wanted the ideal aftermarket soul plate, he’d have to up and make it himself — then he did. The results are King Souls, the UHMW custom soul plates you may have seen splattered across Instagram and Facebook blade groups, where people are lining up to fork over their cash for custom plates. We wanted to know more about the man and how he came to make something so obviously in demand for our community, and Andrew was nice enough to answer all our questions. So check out this conversation to learn more about King Souls and what they could do for your dream setup aspirations.

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Hey Andrew, so, judging from your IG updates you’ve been busy! Congrats are in order, you’ve stepped into an obviously in-demand market.

But for anyone that’s been under a rock, can you tell everyone who you are, and what product you created that people are really interested in?
Thank you! It’s truly an honor to be recognized by my favorite blading publication. My name is Andrew Kingery and I’m the founder of King Souls. I design and hand mill custom soul plates for folks who aren’t satisfied with the design of their stock souls, and for dead skate brands that no longer make replacement soul plates.

Awesome! For some basics, where are you located, and how long have you been blading?
Currently I reside in Nashville, Tennessee, and have been here since 2012. Originally I’m from Salem, Virginia, a relatively small town in the Appalachian mountains at the southwestern part of the state. I started blading in the summer of 1994, so on and off for the past 24 years.

What was your first pair of skates?
I’m sure I had a pair of Variflex rec skates in 1993, but in the summer of 1994 I got a pair of Lightening TRS.

Why those? What did you like about them?
I saw Airborne and Dare to Air early in 1994 and those were the skates they were using in those movies. After watching those movies, I removed the middle wheels from my Variflex and frontsided until the frames broke. That summer my parents took me to a Play It Again Sports where I got my first pair of “aggressive” skates, the Lightning TRS.

Have you always been a mod’er? What was the first thing you ever customized on a pair of skates?
In the ‘90s, with the types of skates we had, you pretty much had to be a mod’er. Boxcars, Argons, Majestics all had a very small soul grind area, especially at the heel. Thankfully we had CDS Detroit who made “L” shaped pieces of plastic that we could screw to our blades to make the soul area larger.

The first mod was on a pair of Boxcars. I added the CDS heel block and filed my frame to have a pre-groove to match the groove of the grindplates.

So what do you do for a career; something where these skills are applied?
Not quite. My wife and I own a Kombucha business with two other people that have a shop here in Nashville called High Garden. High Garden is a tea shop, herbal apothecary and Kombucha bar. I brew between 60 and 100 gallons a week to serve at our bar and to distribute to about 15 wholesale clients around town.

That… that is not what I expected! We imagined maybe you’d do engineering stuff! So tell us more!
We’ve had the Kombucha for over two years now, and I started producing soul plates in December of 2017. They are two completely separate things. I guess it’s easy when you do something every day of your life to start feeling uninspired. Making soul plates helps take my mind off of my everyday work and let’s me exercise a different part of my brain. Usually when I’ve completed a series of souls, I come back to my other job feeling more inspired to create something new. This exercise works the other way as well.

Speaking of, how did you get the idea to make your own, and what were the original goals when you started?
I started going to college around 2003. Having to work, study, socialize, etc… led to not very much time for blading. Like many of us from those earlier days, from about 2004 until 2012, I didn’t skate regularly. Especially not enough to justify buying new gear.

When I moved to Nashville in 2012 I discovered a large skate community and an abundant amount of indoor and outdoor skateparks. We also have an inline skate shop called Asphalt Beach. Coming from a small town that had one skatepark and no skate shops, this was pretty crazy to me to have all of these great resources in one city.

The last pair of skates I had before I took my hiatus were the 1999 Jon Julio pro model USD Thrones. They had replaceable frames, but were not UFS. I was familiar with UFS but didn’t have any experience with it. The local bladers were very helpful with bringing me up to speed with the technological advancements in rollerblades since I had been away.

My skate size is 28/28.5 shell and I have a wide foot. Most of the skates I tried on at AB were all way too narrow for my foot. I ended up buying some Valo EB-1’s in a size 11, which was way too big. I wasn’t comfortable in them and I started to seek out Salomon skates. I had a pair when they first came out in 1998, and I remembered them being the most comfortable skates I’ve ever owned. I found a pair of st9’s, tried them on, and the fit was amazing. They had more flex than I remembered, so I got a pair Feinbergs and they became my main skates.

In my search for Salomons, I noticed a lot of people would shave the bottom of the boot flat and modify a Carbon, Seven, or Symetrics soul plate to use in place of the stock souls. So I did that and hated it. I feel like I compromised the integrity of the boot by shaving the nubs off, and the material used on the USD souls became sluggish once worn in. There is another guy on BTO that makes custom soul plates out of UHMW, but they still require modding the boot.

I come from a woodworking background, and have built up a well functioning shop with the tools and machines I’ve acquired throughout the years. It was apparent to me the only way I was going to get a custom soul plate for my unmodded Salomons was to make it myself.

My original goal was to make a set of souls for myself and to skate them. That changed the minute I posted pictures of what I had done on Facebook.

What do people like about the King plates? And is what people like the same thing you set out to achieve?
People like that they can custom order soul plates to suit their needs as a blader. My clients tell me what shape they prefer and I do my best to make that come to fruition. In a sense, yes, I set out to create a completely customizable soul plate for myself and I believe my customers feel that they have the freedom to order something truly custom.

How much does a pair weigh on average? How does that compare to stock plates?
My cut off-style souls weigh about 6 ounces per soul compared to stock Salomon souls which weigh about 4.3 ounces per soul.

What’s the most commonly ordered style? I’d guess… Salomon? ;-)
Salomons for sure. I recently developed a soul design for Them Skates and the V13/M12 boot. There has been a steady stream of orders coming in since I’ve released those designs.

How have you refined your process or improved the product as the orders stack up? I suppose with each pair made you’re becoming better and better at making them?
As with anything, the more you do something, the more refined the product and process becomes. Using the profits from the souls I’ve purchased a CNC/3D print machine. I hope to be creating with this machine after the first of the year.

Are there any challenges in making the plates, besides the obvious limitation of your time?
Time is the key factor. Not only do I have two full time businesses that I solely operate, I’m a husband and we have a two-year-old girl named Rosa.

Have any manufactures contacted you about partnerships or R&D?
When Rollerblade’s Tom Hyser was in town for the half marathon, he saw some of my work and reached out to me to make a prototype soul plate for the Twister Edge. It was for Tom’s personal skates and I doubt anything will actually happen with it, but it was such an honor to do anything for Tom.

Lawrence Ingraham of 50/50 fame and I have some interesting conversations from time to time, but nothing to speak of yet. ☺

I looked up to these people in my early days of blading and it’s surreal and such an honor to be conversing and collaborating with these brilliant minds.

Thought about expanding the line into stuff besides soul plates?
Absolutely. I’ve made some frames and have been tinkering around with different designs. Once I’m fully capable of programming my CNC machine, you’ll definitely be seeing some prototypes pop up on IG. Also, recreating parts that aren’t manufactured anymore for people who are in to collecting vintage gear (non-UFS frames, Juice systems, grindplates, etc….).

Well, anything else we should’ve asked that you wanna drop on us? If so, now’s the time.
My favorite Rollerblades from back in the day were my maroon Roces 5th Elements. Salomons are the most comfortable, but 5th’s were groundbreaking for their time. Also, I played upright bass in a Bluegrass band for 7 years. ☺

Thanks, Andrew — best of luck with everything, like catching up on all those back orders!

[The END]

Photos from Instagram, Facebook, and Andrew Kingery

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Kofi - Monday, October 15th, 2018

Sick Kingery! Keep on going.

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