ENCINITAS — After years spent in action sports and battling through gender barriers, one Encinitas entrepreneur and skater branched out on her own.
Kate Adams, 32, started Kateboards earlier this year with a mission, which is to break down barriers for women and girls who want to skate. Adams has seen firsthand the progress made over the years to include more girls and women, but she said there is more work to be done.
Adams designs her own boards and has slowly created a community through meetups and private lessons in Encinitas.
“Knowing what quality skateboards are and getting those into women’s hands is a really big thing for me,” she said. “A lot of times, women are marketed to with cheaper components, brighter colors and just handed off that way.”
As such, Adams incorporates quality components in her boards to provide her customers with the best possible experience. Additionally, her marketing and branding touches empowering and breaking down barriers.
As a result of her growing reach and business success, Kateboards be collaborating with Lululemon’s Carlsbad location by co-hosting meet-ups and community outreach activities.
“I want skateboarding to be approachable for women,” Adams said.
Sormarie Nievs, a friend of Adams’, joined about 20 women during a meet-up at the end of July at Swami’s Beach. There, she said supporting her friend is important, as is getting to know others who attended.
Nievs said boys are typically introduced to the sport earlier and more often, citing injury concerns or getting cuts and bruises from spills as reasons girls may shy away or be discouraged from learning the sport.
“It’s good to cruise and learn that falling is OK,” she said. “You feel like a kid. You kind of forget everything, you make mistakes, you fall. People are scared of trying new things and it takes some courage.”
Adams targets new recruits on Instagram and so far has seen a positive response.
Slowly, though, Adams meet ups have been growing in popularity from about five the first time several months ago, to between 20 to 30 girls and women of all ages and backgrounds.
“I want to get more women get into it and hopefully we’ll see more women represented,” she said. “Having the meet-ups is a huge part of Kateboards. To me, laying this foundation is about really creating that environment that conveys the importance of what we’re trying to get women involved with.”
Adams, who was born and raised in Laguna Niguel, has always been drawn to action sports, whether it be skateboarding or surfing. She made her way down to Encinitas to start her career after graduating from San Diego State University.
She started with Arbor and Sector 9, two skateboard companies, where she stayed for five years. The experience gave her great insight into the business, how it operated, manufacturing challenges, logistics, accounting and sales.
However, she left her job to travel abroad for two months, where the spark for Kateboards was born. Adams went into real estate, saving her money to launch her own company.
She launched with the Breakthrough deck, a simple, long board with seafoam wheels. The name, meanwhile, represents breaking the mold and busting past the limitations people set for themselves.
For other decks, she recruits artists to give the final product flare and personality. For example, the Asta is a limited-edition board featuring muralist Lauren Asta, which showcases a dozens of people, doodle-style, on the board.
Adams is preparing to release to more decks this fall, each featuring a different artist in line with her company’s mission and values.