September 9, 2019

Inside the Skate Sisterhood of GRLSWIRL

In a scene all too frequently seen as male-dominated, California based collective GRLSWIRL inspires girls of all ages to pick up a board and skate. They create an approachable and fun space of female fearlessness through philanthropic partnerships, bi-weekly group skates, social media, and events of all descriptions. With its distinct grassroots approach, GRLSWIRL has seen a rapid rise in membership, growing from its original 9 in 2018 to a bonafide movement of over 52K.

Read on to hear from GRLSWIRLS’s co-founders Myriah Marquez, Lucy Osinski, Julia Ama, Lindsey Klucik, Tobi Ann, Shannon Moss and Monroe Alvarez as they draw from their unique stories and share their experience forming, maintaining and growing the collective.

What advice would you give to girls who want to get involved with their local scene?

I’d say find what brings you joy and be open to sharing that with others. No matter if it’s music, dance, skate, reading… Do some looking around for others in the community interested in the same things. Take to your newspaper or online for local events happening. If none seem of interest, then gather others and do it yourself! It’s just about making yourself present in the community and open to love and experience.

– Myriah Marquez

How did GRLSWIRL start? What kinds of challenges were you up against at the beginning?

I am a fairly new skater who definitely doesn’t fit the typical skateboarder mold. I was a pro ballerina terrified to get on a board, but was taught correctly and fell in love with how liberating and empowering skating felt. I fell in love so much so that I was skating every day. Very quickly I realized the unwanted attention I had attracted from being a feminine woman skating alone. I started recruiting other women to join me in hopes of finding more comfort in numbers. I wasn’t just sharing the streets with other ladies, but I was sharing the empowerment and freedom I found from skateboarding. Suddenly we were a force, not a minority, and we all felt it revolutionary. We’ve been growing in numbers ever since and it’s been incredible to see then support and excitement from around not just our city, but worldwide! We are 9 co-founders total and the biggest challenge was figuring out how to grow a community and create a sustainable business in order to spread our mission further. It has been an amazing learning experience and our relationships have grown and flourished in a way none of us could have expected.

– Lucy Osinski

What do you see next for GRLSWIRL – anything coming up?

This is a crazy time for us, we’ve got a lot going on right now! Starting in June we will officially begin our shipments of the GRLSWIRL board. We worked hard to create a board that reflects our retro style and we’re excited to share it with the world. Also, we’re expanding to other cities, starting with New York. There’ll be a link on our website to find out more about these new chapters, and also get information on starting your own GRLSWIRL chapter. I can’t spill all the beans, but keep an eye out for upcoming merchandise, podcasts, video tutorials and much more!

– Júlia Ama

What’s your motto?

Motto’s are so powerful because words themselves have so much strength in direction and trajectory. I have many personal motto’s that apply to different aspects of my life. Here are three of my favorite:

Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage”. This one is great because it reminds me to be brave and trust myself.

Dali said, “Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature, understand them thoroughly”. This one is pretty much everything to me. It reminds me how truly beautiful human experience is. We are human, we are nature, and it is important to take the time to self reflect.

And lastly, Allan Lokos said, “Dont believe everything you think”. This one reminds me that thoughts will come and go and that they are just that, thoughts. I appreciate all of my thoughts and how they have the power to consistently change direction.

Lindsey Klucik

What’s been your biggest milestone so far?

Getting into the skatepark for sure! I am not a big park skater, I love cruising and carving. But what the skatepark did for me, nothing else could have done. I used to care about image, how good I was and stayed in my lane. So I was like, there is no way I’m going in that park, that is the good trick skaters territory. One day I finally just went in and it changed my entire perspective. Everyone said, you need a bowl board, you can’t ride your carver in there, but whatever I like slow carving so I ride my carver in it. My fear of intruding on trick board turf went away once I received support from all the kids in the park. (I say kids so loosely, considering myself one as well). But in the end, it taught me to not set boundaries or limitations, don’t worry about what style is “right” or if people will be accepting of my way of doing things. Just get on your board, have fun and explore. The skate community is very welcoming and supportive and it rules. Realizing this changed skating for me 100%.

– Tobi Ann

What’s the best part of being in the collective?

The best part is the community that I’ve gained over the course of the past year. It’s amazing to me that we’ve been able to bring this many girls together – girls that for me I probably never would have met otherwise and yet who live just a few blocks or streets away. I think it can be hard to make friends as you get older – whether you’re in a new city or your only social outlet is the office – and the fact that we’ve cultivated a space in Venice, and around the world, where girls can get outside and meet each other and connect in real life is incredibly powerful.

– Shannon Moss

Shout-out to any other trailblazing women?

I have a lot of shout-outs to kick-ass women who are trailblazing in different ways, but here’s a few:

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez – I can’t help but call out this incredible woman who is trailblazing through Congress to make a true difference in this world… and she’s only 29! @ocasio2018

Christy Dawn – Started a business while being pregnant with her first child and moving homes. Takes a strong woman to do those three things at once. Her clothing company is now a multi-million dollar business! She’s a powerhouse – @crittycat00

Sky Brown – This little girl is such an amazing representation of girls in skateboarding. She is constantly empowering young girls to go after their dreams. – @skybrown

– Monroe Alvarez
Polaroid photos by Chuck Dong