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YOURSeLF Sk8s

Funner Than Fun

As evidenced by reality TV shows like Life of Ryan and Rob and Big, as well as the proliferation of skate company ads plastered everywhere including MUNI buses, it’s pretty obvious that the skateboarding industry has changed drastically from its beginnings to mainstream commercialdom. Though many have started skating hoping to achieve fame and fortune, there are still people in it for the unadulterated love of skateboarding. Local company YOURSeLF Skateboarding Co. was created for the latter.

Owner and Creator of YOURSeLF SK8S Sam Edwards (and boss chef at German eatery Walzwerk in the Mission) started skating as a kid, back when it wasn’t popular, and fell in love.

“[YOURSeLF SK8S] started as a way to give something back to the thing that meant so much to me,” he says. “I wanted to give kids chances that I didn’t have.” So in 2006, after a 10-year hiatus from skating, Sam put up the YOURSeLF SK8S web site and quit his job as a cook. At the time, he didn’t know anyone in San Francisco but didn’t let that get in the way. He didn’t really care what anyone thought. “Looking back, what the hell was I doing?” he says, laughing. “Luckily my passion carried me forward; it wasn’t an ideal way to start a business.”

YOURSeLF SK8S’ initial product offering consisted of videos (YOURSeLF SK8S Volumes 1 and 2), stickers, and a plain white t-shirt bearing a line-drawing of the San Francisco skyline with block lettering of the logo, all sold through his web site. Now almost three years later, Sam continues to put out videos, stickers and shirts, and has added skate decks to the lineup. Just this year has seen the release of four limited-run decks, with graphics five and six dropping later this month. Local artists Chris Thrall and Brent Isoldi have contributed to the board graphics that are done on Canadian maple. YOURSeLF SK8S DVDs can be found for free at Huf, DLX and FTC, and decks are sold at Huf and FTC.

What’s unique about YOURSeLF SK8S is that Sam runs it like a non-profit. All proceeds go to the company and the team. While the distribution and awareness of YOURSeLF SK8S has grown, the company reaches out to underprivileged youth who want to get into skating but don’t have the means, through free demos and donation of used boards and parts. Using YOURSeLFSK8s.com as a portal, Sam has met parents at BART stations in Oakland to hand off boards for their kids. “For anyone who wants to skate, I’m there to help them keep doing it,” Sam says.

“People sometimes miss that skating is fun. It’s about hanging out with your friends and doing whatever you want, with no restrictions or limitations,” Sam says. “That’s the biggest thing for me: having fun. I want to see someone enjoy what they’re doing.” Thus it’s no surprise that though the primary criteria for skate team member selection is ability, he also picks his guys for their passion. The team roster fluctuates between five and six riders, currently from Florida, Oklahoma and California.

What does the future hold for YOURSeLF SK8S? You can find the just-released video Funner Than Fun, and this week a new video release: I Ain’t From These Parts. Two new tees will also be released, one a collaboration with Lurk Hard, a skate company based out of Sacramento. The collaboration tee will be available on YOURSeLFSK8S.com and Lurk Hard’s web site. A demo/skate contest is also in the works for 2009, so be on the lookout and support your local skate company!

As for the name, it’s pretty self explanatory, Sam says. “Skate for yourself. Ride for you.”