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Conversations with the Inspiring Elise Crigar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elise Crigar.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in a small town in central Florida with not much going on besides a lot of horses and a lot of land. There were no skate parks, and the beach was over an hour away. When I was 13, I learned to surf, and after that, I was obsessed and fascinated with women in board sports. I was always creative. My bedroom was a studio where I was constantly painting, shooting photos and making things I called art. It didn’t take long for my dreams to grow larger than the town I was in. The California fantasy began, and I wanted to pursue my passion with an action sports company, Vans was the goal. After high school, I got tired of watching my friends skate, and that was it. I was told girls didn’t need to learn how to drop in, and from there on out, I just wanted to prove people wrong. It lit a fire in me, all the way to college.

I moved to the east coast of Florida to study at Flagler College. Through the process of earning a degree in graphic design and fine art, my goals became more and more clear to me. My journey as a female skateboarder had changed me. It gave me confidence, taught me how to fail, try again, earn something and succeed. But most importantly it taught me how to respect myself. A lot of unnecessary attention was given to me when I first started skating because I was a female. Through this experience I learned to harness this attention for impactful purposes, to use it to uplift, highlight and empower other girls that skate or want to learn how to.

I wanted to share this voice by creating and skating. This is all I wanted, and I wanted it bad. I guess you could say I have always been a side hustler. If there was something I wanted to do, I found a way to make it happen. No excuses, ever. Working after work, before work and filing my weekends. I had a full-time job that I loved, where I learned a lot but I was always finding ways to squeeze in room for more. Reaching out to brands and people to shoot photos and create content. A lot of working for free, but it all aligned with my goal and I had a feeling it would eventually all add up. So, I did it. And the joy it provided after was unlike any other. I took that as a sign.

Growing up, my dad told me it never hurts to ask. As I got older and found myself questioning what to do, I just started going for it. Sometimes, it would lead to something, and sometimes not. The things that seem crazy, impossible or scary; yea try those because those are the ones that can take you by surprise.

It was another hot ass day in Florida, and I had just died my hair neon pink. I was on my lunch break in a Target parking lot staring at my phone with butterflies in my stomach. A few days before, I had messaged legendary pro vert skateboarder and Skateboarding Hall of Fame legend Cindy Whitehead via Instagram and email. I introduced myself, my work and told her I would love to work with her and her brand Girl Is Not A 4 Letter Word. And now she was about to call me.

I guess you could say the phone call went well.

Our first project together was a lookbook I shot and designed. The second was “It’s Not About Pretty” – A Book About Radical Skater Girls, the first ever hardback comprehensive book on female skateboarding. Cindy presented the idea along with the photos photographed by her husband Ian Logan, and I designed the book. 144 pages were featuring 65 different female skateboarders ages 5-50.

A year later, the book launched. I was still in Florida dying to get to the west coast to watch the project come to life. I was unable to leave, and instead of doing nothing I turned my energy and focus on bringing the project to life in Florida.

I planned, promoted and directed. It’s Not About Pretty Girls Skate Event at Kona Skatepark. And like everything else, I gave this 100 and 10 percent, all for free, because it went towards my goal. I spoke on live tv, interviewed with newspapers and podcasts. I scheduled all-girl bands, a live female muralist, employees, skate clinics, photographers, and gave away over 30 complete skateboards, clothes and gear. In the end, the event broke a record for the most girls to ever be at Kona Skatepark at one time.

That was over a year ago. I am writing this now from my couch in a little beach abode in Dana Point, California. I bet you’re expecting me to tell you that I’ve made it. Tell you that it all fell magically into place, that all my work got noticed and had paid off. Well… it hasn’t. The constant hustle continues, the same pattern. No excuses. Ever. Working after work, before work and filing my weekends. But now I am just a little closer to my goal. Seven whole states to be exact.

Has it been a smooth road?
The road is never smooth. My dad also taught me is that life is not fair. Everyone’s journey happens at their own pace. Some peoples successes may seem to fall into their lap with little or no effort. It is hard not to compare yourself and let your failures affect you. I have been told is that I care too much. I get too worked up when things fail and give too much to ensure they go right. I believe this caring is called passion. This passion is what will lead to success, and if you are crazy enough to have it and follow it, it will get you there.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into your business story. Tell us more about the business.
Growing up, I was always involved in fine art and photography. I studied graphic design and fine art in college and went on to be a full-time photographer for local publications. My passion is using the mediums of photography and design to empower females specifically in skateboarding. For the past three years, I have been focusing my work on that. There is something powerful about capturing that experience and sharing it with others. I would say these images and designing the “It’s Not About Pretty” book are what I am currently the proudest of.

It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
Podcasts are a great source of inspiration, guidance, and motivation. My go-to’s are Adventures in Design with Mark Brickey and Girlboss Radio with Sophia Amoruso.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Photos: Elise Crigar, Profile Photo: Chelsea Adams

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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