SS22 behind the scenes with leo
Here at all we are, we know sharing is caring. And we don’t just mean belongings – we’re all about the sharing of knowledge, too. There’s no reason to keep the cool stuff to yourself. Just ask our designers – if they keep their techniques a secret, there’ll be no more jewellery-makers to follow in their footsteps. And without tutorials and mentors, how would a skateboarder go from novice to pro?
In honour of our new SS22 campaign, we sat down with pro skater Leo Fikentscher for a behind-the-scenes chat at Acton Skatepark. Come roll with us as we dig deep for skating tips, as well as some insider-info on a great new cause we’re supporting: the Cipher Flow Foundation. Leo fully lives by the whole ‘sharing is caring’ ethos – and honestly, we’re here for it.
First question! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I’m Leo. I’m 22 years old, l’m from Germany and I’ve lived in Barcelona for two years.
Tell us about the first time you got on a skateboard!
The first time I got on a skateboard… the first time ever was probably in my childhood, but I was just sitting down on the board on my butt, riding down a hill. But later, in my last year of high school when I was 18, my friend let me use his skateboard and I just got immediately hooked on skating. He showed me a trick, and I think I landed it quite fast after a couple of tries. It took me a long time to learn it afterwards again, but I was super-hyped. For two weeks I was dreaming about skateboarding every night. It was such a nice feeling. When I got my first board, I was so happy; I couldn’t stop. Since then, I’ve just been practicing and skating the whole time.
What was your first trick that you learned?
The first trick that I learned on a skateboard was actually a frontside shove-it. It’s a trick where the board turns in a horizontal way… backwards. It’s kinda scary. It’s constantly challenging your mental game to overcome your fear.
Sounds like you’re pretty fearless to me…
I’m actually not! I think I’m a really scared person, so for me it’s a constant battle. And I think that’s good.
Have you made many friends through skateboarding?
This is the part I most love about it – the community aspect. I made so many friends through skateboarding and it changed my whole life. I moved to Barcelona because of skateboarding and actually all the people I know there, I got to know through skateboarding.
Are there lots of girl skaters in Barcelona, or is it mostly boys?
I feel like the girl skate community there has a strong bonding feeling, definitely. I hang out with a lot of really nice girl skaters. But boys too. For girls it’s good to stick together.
Did you have any role-models growing up? Or now?
Definitely – my moms. I have two moms who raised me with so much love, and they are my biggest role models. They see life in a super-positive way. And now? Wow. Actually, so many of my girlfriends inspire me a lot. And, of course, female pro skaters like Elissa Streamer, Lizzie Armanto and Samarria Brevard. Big inspirations, for sure.
What would your tips be for a beginner skater?
My first tip would be to never, ever feel embarrassed. Sometimes when you come to a skatepark as a beginner you don’t feel so comfortable on your board, and especially as a girl you feel quite intimidated and maybe even ashamed of not knowing the tricks. But everyone starts from scratch and if anyone looks bad at you, it’s because they’re an arrogant person and you shouldn’t bother with them at all. Most people are super welcoming and helpful.
Everyone has to start somewhere, right?
Yes. That’s actually the most important tip. Just don’t be scared to start skateboarding. As soon as you enjoy it and you step on the skateboard, you’re a skater.
Tell us a bit about the work you’ve been doing with Cipher Flow Foundation.
This winter, two friends of mine started their own little foundation which is called the Cipher Flow Foundation. The name means that the products, the knowledge, and everything else flows 360-degrees – what you give in comes back. And we want to give back to the skateboarding community. It has our backs, always. Wherever we go.
So, my friend from Columbia and another friend from New York did the first mission – it was in Columbia. And I came too, to help with the project.
Basically, we collect donations of old decks, trucks, shoes, wheels and anything else you need for skateboarding, and we bring it all to new communities. We collect in Europe, the States and from local brands who want to contribute. Then in Columbia we hosted an event with a skate contest. To join in, people could pay around 4000 Colombian pesos, which is less than one pound, or they could give something old to the collection.
We sent everything we raised to four different communities around Columbia. We picked places where there is already a place to skate, but a lack of equipment and supplies. Five or six boards in each community are stored overnight in a safe – then they get loaned out to young people in the area each day. A social leader has the keys to keep them locked up at night. In these communities, we organise skate classes and workshops with a social worker to teach the kids about nutrition and exercise, as well as team-building training and de-escalation strategies.
We have a GoFundMe too, where we raise money for the classes, as well as for the shipping of the stuff. We don’t often ship it since it’s too expensive, and we’d rather the money go directly to the communities. Instead, we bring it ourselves.
So now we’re doing the same project in Mexico. I went in December and got to know so many really nice people who already run social projects over there and need support. This time I’ve got a lot of donations including decks, trucks and wheels, and I’ll take it all out there myself. Because I have so much this time, maybe I’ll need to find someone to come with me – or figure out the best way to ship it!
I’ve also got support from a skateboarding brand here in the UK called Doyenne Skateboards. They’ve contributed to help pay for skate classes. I’m really excited and hyped that this brand is willing to support the cause.
All the payment, equipment, everything – it flows right back to the local skaters and social workers who run the classes, so local people can support their own community. We’re looking to involve as many local people as possible – at some point we’re going to make a film about it, and all the graphic design is created by local Mexican skaters.
That sounds fantastic! And we’re going to donate the boards and equipment from this shoot to help!
Yes, thank you! That’s amazing.
You’re doing some great work. So how else can people donate or help out?
All the money from the GoFundMe will go directly to the transportation of the stuff, and to the skate classes. The money we raise means we can organise more skate classes and more social workshops in more different communities. Thank you for the shoutout!