Last week, we announced five August Amber Grant finalists. Today, we’re delighted to share the recipient and the 9th qualifier for the $25,000 year-end Amber Grant.
Congratulations to Kate Adams, Founder of Kateboards. In our interview below, Kate shares the backstory of her company, walks us through her product and its production, dishes on advice for female entrepreneurs, and more.
WN: What led you to launch Kateboards?
KA: Kateboards is the reality of a dream that has been cultivating for the past 25 years. However, it wasn’t conceptualized until the end of 2015 and it didn’t materialize until the end of 2018. Kateboards is the culmination of my innate drive to have a positive & meaningful impact on others coupled with my love for skateboarding.
Born and raised in Southern California, surfing and skateboarding have always been a natural and constant part of my life. I don’t remember my life without a board under my feet. From the moment I started skateboarding, I was hooked. The joy, freedom, self-expression, challenges, fun, awareness, the falling and getting back up, the grace + flow, excitement, the individuality, the camaraderie, the confidence garnered, and the fresh air in my lungs as I cruised down the hill. There is a power that comes with propelling yourself on wheels and plenty of life lessons that come along with it as well.
My love for skateboarding, my experience in the industry, and my determination to have skateboarding be more approachable for women led me to launch Kateboards. I am the girl on the skateboard with all the childhood joy + wonder and I am the woman running the skateboard business. Same person, yet different.
I’ve always felt like I am on this Earth for a reason bigger than myself – I believe we all are. I believe I am here to share who I am, to encourage and support others, and to lovingly help others grow just as others have helped me.
I find depth in the simple things in life, things that keep me connected to my being. Skateboarding is one of the simple, yet profound parts of my life. I spent a lot of time searching for my purpose and came to recognize that any dream pursued with 110% effort, passion, and care is worth doing. Sometimes it just takes a little push, a dose of courage to get us to go for something that can lead to greater things, greater life experiences.
After graduating from SDSU with a degree in business, I worked for the largest longboard skateboard company in the world for 5 years in sales and customer service. The highest quality boards were being produced at the factory and distributed globally from the attached warehouse. From the ground up I was able to see and be a part of how the business operated as a whole and it was an invaluable experience.
At Kateboards, we’re on a mission to create an inclusive and progressive environment for female skateboarders of all levels through community, collaboration, and quality products. I want women to harness the courage that is required to get involved in skateboarding + the confidence they gain from it and apply that to other areas of their lives. Kateboards is for all levels and all ages.
In my time skateboarding as a kid, parlaying into a career in the skate industry, I saw first hand how many women would shy away from skateboarding due to the intimidation factor of it being male-dominated, fearing they’d get hurt, and not sure how they would even get started. These are all real and perceived barriers that I’m looking to dismantle.
I’ve had countless one on one interactions with women who said they felt intimidated to go into a skate shop, afraid to try skateboarding by themselves, or that they were too old to try. It may seem like women skateboarders are the norm here in Southern California, the mecca of skateboarding, but these are all personal conversations I’ve had with women in our town. What is great to see, though, is the outpouring of excitement from women who have tried skateboarding for the first time or have decided to take it back up. That’s definitely a major motivation for me and it provides so much joy.
It has become abundantly clear that there is a sheer lack of females represented in skateboarding. If women are not represented, then how do we expect them to progress? Representation is at the forefront of creating a larger scale of awareness and involvement. That being said, change has started.
Talented young women are earning sponsorships from the biggest brands in the industry, and women skateboarders will be participating in the 2020 Summer Olympics. It is truly an incredible step for women in skateboarding. However, there is still a lot of work to be done… and fun to be had.
The Kateboards logo is the delta symbol, which signifies change. The purpose is to represent that change leads to growth, and to represent my goal of increasing the number of female skateboarders.
WN: What challenges have you faced since launching last fall?
KA: In the 10 months since Kateboards launched, the biggest challenge thus far has been growing the business while self funding and being the only one to run day to day operations. But this has also built character, resilience, and taught me how to be even more resourceful.
Asking for help has not been a strong suit of mine in the past, but it is something I now practice more often. It has been amazing to have people’s support with Kateboards. I am positively overwhelmed by the community and how they have contributed to the business + showed they care through their words, actions, and purchases. My connections in the skate industry have also been so genuine in their support of Kateboards and made it possible for me to pursue this dream.
WN: Take us through how Kateboards are produced and sold. What differentiates your product?
KA: The first run of Kateboards was all about laying the foundation for what the brand stands for and they were all sold direct to consumer except for the support of one retail location, which I purposely kept as the only retail shop to carry Kateboards.
We collaborate with female artists to create the graphics for Kateboards and create a brand that it is female-oriented with the quality boards women deserve. Oftentimes women are marketed to with cheaper components and gimmicky reasons as to why the product is better for a woman. Our focus is on clean, bold, meaningful, and quality skateboards.
With this second run of boards, and going into the 2nd year of Kateboards, there will be a bigger push to have them in retail locations resulting in the mission behind Kateboards gaining more exposure. This company isn’t just about selling boards or being another skate brand – it’s important that the purpose of Kateboards is communicated effectively.
Kateboards are quality boards made from hard rock maple and manufactured locally using state of the art machines. The boards are incredibly stable, fun, and easy to ride. They are perfect choices whether it’s your first skateboard purchase or your 10th board!
The manufacturer I’ve partnered with is one of the best around and I am so excited to be working with them. When it comes to longboards and cruisers, compared to standard street decks, there are countless shapes that affect the style of riding. Cruisers and longboards typically require more precision in their construction compared to street decks. They are easier to ride and we set them up with bigger + softer wheels and trucks that create a smoother ride. With my knowledge and experience in skateboarding I feel confident in the boards I am selling.
WN: What are your plans for future growth, and how will you get there?
KA: There are a lot of plans for future growth and the possibilities are endless.
I am looking forward to building the Kateboards team, expanding our group skate meet-ups, and increasing our private lesson offering. I am incredibly excited to launch a new series of boards with talented artists and get Kateboards under the feet of more women. There are plans for more sustainable practices as well along with modified board designs. After 10 months it’s clear there is no limit to where Kateboards and women in skateboarding can go.
The focus will always be on providing the best boards possible, creating value for the customer and community, and maintaining a supportive environment for female skaters.
In the next five years I’d like to have warehouse space, ambassador programs, larger skate events, philanthropic opportunities through non-profit collaborations, skate team sponsorships, scholarships, after school programs, and Kateboards retail locations to name a few things. I feel strong, enthused, and ready to take this to the next level.
WN: Share a piece of advice you’d give an aspiring female entrepreneur.
KA: There are several things I’d like to share:
I will say that the idea of not starting Kateboards scared me much more than starting it. It might be good to ask yourself if you feel the same way about your idea/business.
Don’t underestimate the importance of taking excellent care of your health. Without good health, running a business (or doing much of anything) is even more challenging.
Have a plan for what you want to create and accomplish. Do your homework. Ensure that what you’re pursuing is something you truly value and feel connected to. Don’t shy away from your dream, because you think someone else is doing it better. There is a lot of noise out there – come back to your center. Do it your way. Stay on your own path and trust that what you’re doing is worth it.
Don’t be afraid to ask the big, bold questions. Encourage and support those around you.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” —Anaïs Nin.
WN: If you have anything else to share, please do — this is your platform!
KA: Thank you to the WomensNet for believing in me + Kateboards. And thank you for the ways you are supporting women with their dreams. To anyone reading this, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to hear from you. -Kate