I’ve been lurking in the shadows, but I haven’t fallen off of the map completely. I also haven’t turned into a mermaid yet, despite many hours spent soaking in the sea. Where have I been? Well, it’s complicated, but I broke up with professional skateboarding.
My relationship with skateboarding itself is more than a decade strong, and albeit abusive at times, my love remains unconditional. We have a really good thing going between us—an exemplary balance of “give” and “take”. Skateboarding has taught me plenty about determination, patience, confidence, fear, humility, community, and a wide spectrum of pain. I pay it back and pay it forward by spreading the good word of skateboarding to anyone willing to listen. Making media, connecting with communities locally and globally, giving away heaps of gear, and my main mission of inspiring women and men alike to disregard “normalcy” and pursue what is fulfilling to them. Four wheels, two trucks, one deck, and the possibilities are endless, really; although marketers might have convinced you otherwise. And that simple fact is why I have curtsied to the audience and skated off to a different planet.
‘Thane lines don’t make you cooler and those wheels you bought won’t help you hit triple digit powerslides. Every skateboard truck ever made will bend if you skate it hard enough. Nothing is “free”. Being sponsored doesn’t mean five star hotels, fancy motorcycles, and babes-a-plenty. It more likely means sleeping on floors, not being able to afford gas, and intense relations with road rash.
That’s all well and good, I can get down with getting dirty and staying broke for the sake of doing what I love. What I can’t get down with, and it took me a long time to come to this realization, is inspiring you to buy a certain product rather than simply inspiring you to skate. In my case, making skating my career was like selling my soul for a minimum-wage living. Now, I’m certainly not speaking for all professional skaters because each one of our situations are different and there are many who completely have their hearts in the right place. I have friends in this industry who are working together with manufacturers toward the bigger picture rather than just to maximize profit—they genuinely care about cultivating the community, product innovation, craft, and fostering all art forms within skateboarding. Profit and growth are of course enormously important to staying afloat in an ever-changing market, but I believe there is an extremely delicate dance going on between business and the heart of skateboarding, and few have mastered this dance.
“Isn’t this the best?”
“Isn’t this a dream?”
“Isn’t it insane we get paid to do this?”
I’ve been constantly asked such questions, and although I always nodded in agreement, I was lying. Those questions made me squirm with discomfort – I just wasn’t feeling it. I hated being watched. I hated being judged. I hated feeling like I needed to skate differently—to do things that I did not feel comfortable with. I hated that my whole existence had become a marketing tool. What I hated the most was that I hated it at all.
Yes, it was a dream, but it was never my dream. Especially because it had become so much less about skateboarding and so much more about selling. I was witnessing myself become a machine to the industry and I needed to stop it. I took a lot of time to reflect and reevaluate my priorities. I still love skateboarding with all of my heart. I still love collaborating with like-minded creatives on skate projects. I understand marketing is an important part of the infrastructure of the skate industry, and that it is never going away. I get it, but I’d personally rather be a conscious consumer than blinded by, or part of, the newest trends. I’ve always believed that it’s cool to care, and skate products are no exception. So I ask, who makes my product? Where does it come from? What is its impact on the environment? Who am I supporting when I buy it? Who am I truly representing?
And so, it was a messy break-up between me and professional skateboarding, but it was undoubtedly for the better. Unbranded and liberated, I’m more fired up than ever before to feed my soul, to skate and create. This isn’t a farewell to the skateboarding community—it’s a realignment of principles and a reminder of why any of us picked up a skateboard for the first time. Freedom. Fun. Expression. Things you can never bottle and sell, no matter how hard some try. Which is why I’m happy to continue collaborating with authentic community builders like Wheelbase—for skaters, by skaters, and about skateboarding first and foremost. This magazine and our family is all-encompassing—we are the cross-steppers, the hill bombers, the park shredders, and the sidewalk surfers. According to us, there’s no way to do it wrong. We aren’t trying to deceive you or sell you a dream. Simply put, Wheelbase has always hosted all types of skating and creativity for the pure love of it—exactly the type of mission that I want to continue to support. Onward and upward, the future is bright!