Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Adams.
Katie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Laguna Niguel, CA. My love for skateboarding began at age seven. As the only girl in the neighborhood who was really into skateboarding, I either skated with the boys or by myself. I grew up with two older brothers, which meant there was little tolerance for drama and a lot of room for proving myself. I’ve always had a natural draw to sports, especially any sport that included wheels. I remember one of our neighbors got a Sector 9 (I think that was in ’95 when I was eight) and that thing HAULED.The longer deck, the soft wheels… it was the fastest skateboard in the neighborhood by far, and I loved carving on it. I saved up to buy my own longboard a few years later and fell even more in love.
I don’t remember much of my life without skateboarding. One of my favorite skateboarding memories is when I landed my first kickflip in 4th grade. I had been practicing for a few weeks, and one day I practiced into the night and finally landed it… no cameras, no one else around… just me, the board, and the street lights. I remember it being such a pure moment.
In the years that followed I focused my attention on other sports, volunteering, and school. Pole Vaulting became a huge passion of mine, and I was fiercely dedicated to it. I was very competitive and always striving to improve and break my own records. Pole Vaulting led me to SDSU, and I was on the Track & Field team my first year and a half before deciding to focus my attention on my business degree and entrepreneurship.
I was selected as one of the fellows for the inaugural class of the Lavin Entrepreneur Program, which couples mentors with students who are serious about creating their own business. But throughout all of this skateboarding was always a constant in my life. It made me feel confident, and it was/is my outlet whenever I need to connect, feel free, feel joy. I can always count on it. To this day my skateboard goes just about everywhere I go.
Fast forward to after college graduation while job searching for a sales rep position in medical device sales. One day I went for a run on the beach where I bumped into an old colleague, and he let me know that Sector 9 & Arbor Skateboards were looking to hire an in-house sales rep/customer service manager. I reached out, had three interviews, and gave sales presentations to the founders & national sales managers for both Sector 9 & Arbor. I was the only female candidate for the position. When they offered me the job, and I accepted I remember thinking, “This is right where I am supposed to be.”
The next five years at Arbor were some of the most inspiring, funny, imaginative, hard-working, and exciting years of my life. I grew immensely in my time there, personally & professionally. We were a small, but mighty crew for Arbor Skateboards. I had the largest sales territory including the Midwest, Texas, & Arizona and I was the customer service manager for the country. I sold to mom and pop shops and key retailers. Because we were attached to the factory and warehouse, I garnered invaluable and tangible experiences of how a business operates on all levels.
From how the boards were made to boxing up orders for customers, it was a very involved and hands-on role. I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity I had to work there, and the Sector/Arbor crew is family to me. In 2015, I decided to go explore the world a bit and step outside of my comfort zone. I put everything in storage and took a two month trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Bali. It was my first solo, international trip and it was one of the most impactful chapters of my life thus far.
In September of 2015, when I returned from traveling, I was struck with the idea to start Kateboards. It was an overwhelming sense of purpose. Seeing more of the world gives you a perspective on the social constructs you’ve attached to and the tacit rules you abide by; this experience redirected what I considered to be important in many ways – positive ways. However, the dissonance between what I wanted to do and what I felt I should do when I returned was putting me on a loop. I recognized that the changes occurring were being associated with struggle.
So I decided that I would associate change with growth. That shift in mindset provided more peace and fulfillment in my life, instantly. What can I learn from this? How can I apply this in a way that helps me progress? This became the basis for Kateboards. Change leads to growth. That is why the logo is a delta symbol; the delta signifies change.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Ha, no it has not been a smooth road. And that is why I love it.
You learn and grow the most from the bumpy roads, the times when things don’t go as planned, and when you get knocked around a bit. It can be difficult to recognize the benefits in the moment, but that is the practice, to recognize the opportunities and growth as quickly as possible.
One of the challenges has been asking for help, which is something I’ve had to practice quite a bit since starting Kateboards. The thing is, we all need each other and nothing in this world is done by ourselves. I take solace in that now. Every person who came before, known or unbeknownst to me, along with all of the people who are here right now are why I am capable of doing what I’m doing. I am so grateful for every single person who has helped me along the way so that I can pursue my dream.
I would say the most challenging aspect was figuring out how I was actually going to start Kateboards. I always knew I was going to do it, why I was going to do it, and that I wouldn’t give up on it. But I had to work hard to save up enough money to get things off the ground. Since the launch in November, I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and the feedback, which makes it all worth it.
There is a sense of fulfillment when I wake up every morning and put my energy into this. In the three years it took from when the idea struck to the moment where I decided I was going to quit my job and commit to Kateboards, I took on side jobs, got my real estate license, and worked in the commercial real estate industry. There were a lot of ups and downs, but ultimately, when you allow yourself to trust what is already inside of you, it’s just a matter of time before you commit to it. I asked myself, “When you’re 70 will you look back and wish that you at least took a stab at this?” The answer was, “Absolutely.”
Please tell us about Kateboards.
Kateboards is devoted to the inclusion and progression of female skateboarders through community, collaboration, and quality products. We value being bold, kind, and courageous.
Experiencing first hand, on many levels, how male-dominated the sport was while working in the industry is what led me to think about how to involve more women. At Kateboards, women are the forethought, not the afterthought. Everything we do is with women in mind.
We want women to feel comfortable getting involved in the sport, and we want to help remove real or perceived barriers. There is too much fun to be had with skateboarding for people to feel deterred by it. We support women of all ages and abilities while supplying quality boards that will help them progress within the sport as well. Our current focus is on cruisers and longboards.
The aim is to have all women, whether they are just starting out or have been skating for years, feel supported in their pursuits. I want women to take the courage it requires to get involved in an unforgiving (think “asphalt”) sport and apply the confidence they gain from skateboarding to other areas of their lives.
Oftentimes women are marketed to with the “shrink it and pink it” mentality and cheaper components. I wanted to provide quality, non-hot pink-glitter-and-unicorns-only, boards for women to progress with. When you purchase the cheaper boards, you’re not going to have as much fun on them. And, I want you to have fun. When you buy a Kateboard, you are going to experience a new level of joy.
Collaborating with like-minded organizations, companies, artists, communities, etc. is a large part of Kateboards. Our focus is on promoting females. We work with female artists to create our graphics, female business owners, female photographers to capture the essence of the female spirit while skateboarding, female ambassadors, and so on.
We will also have Kateboards lessons and meetups starting soon. For those who are excited at the thought of skateboarding, but a bit unsure of how to start we will have private lessons available. We’ll focus on balance (off the board) then get you comfortable on the board. This should jump-start your confidence with skateboarding and give you instant feedback on how awesome the feeling is! Lessons will be affordable and fun. Excited about meetups as well so more women can connect with each other.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Oof, that’s a tough one. One that stands out right now is from when my friend and I were nine years old and decided one summer morning to build a treehouse. In two days we went from an idea to a 3-story treehouse.
The neighborhood kids all pitched in to help build it as they walked by, we picked up scrap wood from nearby construction sites and used our parent’s tools. I have loved creating and building since I was a kid, so that was a dream!
- Asta Complete $159
- Breakthrough Complete $169
- Asta Deck – $65
- Breakthrough Deck – $75
- Shirts – $20
- Hats – $18
- Stickers – $1.50
- Website: www.kateboards.com
- Phone: 619-736-1185
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eunique Deeann, Sarah Lee, Jo Savage, Katy Schlemmer