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When Erick Mathelier, a Haitian-American, was growing up in Flatbush, Brooklyn during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Andre Agassi was a tennis star.
“I don’t know if you remember, but he had the long hair. I felt like tennis was exciting,” says Mathelier. “Then tennis went through a lull and I haven’t seen this level of excitement over the sport in a long time. But I hope we can keep that and attract people to the sport from different places.”
Mathelier is referring to newer players like Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff who are bringing new energy and diversity to the sport that he started playing at age 10 and maintained through college. Mathelier never became a professional tennis player, but because of where he grew up, he saw tennis through a different lens and he’s hoping to offer that perspective to others through his brand Furi Sport, which he launched in 2016 with his business partner Michelle Spiro, who previously worked in sales for brands like Calvin Klein and DKNY.
“When people think of tennis, they think, you must play at some country club, which obviously there is that,” says Mathelier. “But I think there’s a brand that’s needed to be like, ‘No, you don’t have to play in this type of environment.’ So we want to be that brand.”
When coming up with the name, Mathelier didn’t want to use the word fury because he believes it could have a negative connotation, but he did want something that channeled the determination someone may have as an outsider who wants to accomplish something.