Appealing to the more casual skateboard rider — think boarding to the beach or to run an errand — the La Jolla-based Sweetride skate company launched online at www.sweetride-us.com on Nov. 26 and then with a stand at the La Jolla Open Aire Market the next day. The company will continue to have a pop-up shop at the Market each Sunday in December. The Market is opens 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the La Jolla Elementary School campus at Girard Avenue and Genter Street.
“There aren’t a lot of skate brands that appeal to the casual rider. We’re trying to bring a fun, easygoing spin to this industry that we haven’t seen a lot of,” said founder and La Jolla native Jameson Kearney. “The intensity of competitive skateboarding can be intimidating to any young rider — it was for me when I started as a kid — so we want to make something less intimidating that anyone can jump on. It’s that Sunday cruise rider we’re trying to appeal to.”
To embrace the idea, the company has a slogan: “Grab a friend, grab a board and get lost.”
Herself a casual rider, Kearney grew up in La Jolla and attended The Bishop’s School. “I rode on cruisers in middle school and high school, but I really got into it while I was in college at Syracuse University so I could get to class, and then when I moved to New York City, it was my way to get around,” she said.
In talking with her mother, Dawn Davidson, Kearney got advice that would take her mode of transportation and turn it into her career. “My mom said, ‘If you have an idea, you are never going to have less to lose than you do today. So now is the time to try it out, it’s only going to get harder as the years go by.’ That really stuck with me. I took the plunge and moved back here to start Sweetride. I did research and development for six months before we launched the company,” Kearney explained.
The brand consists of skateboards, apparel and accessories, and the difference is the aesthetic. There are four pairs of boards with designs that connect, similar to the friendship necklace concept where one piece says “best” and the other says “friends” that fit together, for a total of eight boards (each board sold separately). “If I have a board and my sister has one, and we’re on opposite sides of the country, we are still connected,” Kearney said. “You could hang them as artwork if you wanted.”
The colorful designs, combined with the fact that the founders are both women (Kearney’s co-founder is Lake Arrowhead native Katie Stanfill) has led some to believe the brand is just for girls. “We get that question all the time, ‘are these skateboards just for girls?’ ” Kearney laughed. “Naturally the brand is a little more feminine because we’re doing the designs, so there is a little more color than you would find in a skate brand. But we’re not closing it off to just girls. But if it turns out to be a brand girls can use, that’s not a bad thing.”
The boards come in two sizes; a cruiser and a longboard, selling from $149. The boards and apparel are made from sustainable materials, such as bamboo for the boards, organic cotton or bamboo with recycled materials like polyester for the T-shirts, and hemp and organic cotton for the hats.
“I’m excited to be back in San Diego and making this happen. If it doesn’t work, that’s fine, at least I tried, but if it does, that’s even better,” said the 2009 Bishop’s grad, who recounted how her upbringing affected her decision to start the company. “You always think, if I went to a different school or met different people, where would I be now? My experience at Bishop’s was a great one and growing up in La Jolla in a surf/skate culture, played a huge role in who I am today.”