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Awesome Merchandise meets SkatePal

At the beginning of the year, we set out to discover what you lovely lot were up to, asking you to tell us what you’ve awesome things you had up your sleeve for 2019 for a chance to win a year’s supply of merch.

 

From hot sauce start-ups and roller derby teams to music related subscription boxes and merch-making beekeepers, we were blown away by what you lot have planned. However, it was the passion, community vibes, and downright awesomeness of SkatePal and their pitch which made them stand out as a deserving winner.

 

A couple of months on, Theo & Phil from SkatePal hopped on a train from London for a tour of our Leeds HQ, to browse our merch options, and fill us in on Skatepal’s amazing project out in Palestine.

SkatePal, Awesome Merchandise

Working in the West Bank since 2015, Skatepal and its volunteers not only bring their technical skills to the skate parks that the charity build but also bring the supportive and inclusive energy of the skate community to young people in Palestine.

 

For many people, like Phil and Theo, skating is way more than just a hobby, amongst other things it’s shaped their friendship groups and, without realising, taught them underlying life lessons. Phil explains that for the kids of Palestine this is no different.

 

“For what is essentially a toy, it’s a tool for empowerment – it builds confidence. As you progress with your skating not only are you building a community of people around you, a friend network for life, but you’re also learning new skills. Knowing that you’re progressing is incredibly empowering and teaches you a lot of life skills. You learn to fall and keep getting back up which, especially in Palestine, that kind of resilience is really crucial for young people.”

 

For eight months of the year (missing the rainy season) the charity welcome rolling batches of volunteers with all levels of skating experience to the West Bank for up to three months at a time.

 

Although there are pros among SkatePals roster of volunteers and supporters, they’re proud to have a mix of people with different skating backgrounds involved. A basic level of skating is necessary but a passion for the project and passing on knowledge is just as important as being able to kickflip.

 

“Generally it’s open to anyone, all ages, abilities and genders,” explains Theo.  “The main thing is to get involved with the kids. If you’ve got the right attitude, then that’s the most important thing.

 

 

“A big part of it is volunteers who are reconnecting with skateboarding themselves. We have a lot of volunteers who come out who are really, really good skaters. Some of them are professional and some of them are sponsored but a lot of skaters are also beginners or maybe they used to skate years ago and this is something they have seen and been inspired by. They’ve been like ‘wow I can do something useful with a skill I used to do all the time’ and go back out and actually reconnect with skateboarding themselves.”

SkatePal, Awesome Merchandise

Almost entirely dependent on public donations and the kindness of the skating community, DIY fundraising and collaborations play a big part in SkatePal’s revenue stream. Merch has also played a small part in funding projects up until now, however, with limitations on budget and space (having worked out of bedrooms up until recently) merch has mainly been used to get the word out.

 

“I guess part of the nature of being a skate charity is that we need to stay rooted in our roots, which is skateboarding.” They both explain.

 

“Skateboarding has always kind of been about representing your local organisations, so for us, getting the word out there and SkatePal, getting skaters wearing our stuff, getting the volunteers wearing our stuff is a really big part of it. It’s less about an income from it, more about visibility and getting people representing out and about.

 

“We’ll hook up people willingly in Palestine. Anyone out there who want’s to rep our stuff, we’ll happily bring into the fold. We’ll probably give out stuff a lot more given that our printing costs have been dramatically reduced thanks to this competition.”

SkatePal, Awesome Merchandise

Bagging our top prize of a year’s worth of merch, Skatepal now has big plans to expand their merch range and we’re super excited to be able to help them out!

 

“We have a small chunk of money that we’re able to put into things like t-shirts. We can’t go mad just because we would like a clothing range with our stuff on, we couldn’t really take risks. This prize means we can have a few different items that we wouldn’t normally have and see if they take off, and then in the future we can invest in more.  Having this prize is a really important thing, it means that the overhead is dramatically reduced.”

 

After spending an afternoon with some of SkatePal at Awesome HQ discussing their dream merch and showing them everything we have to offer, we’re really excited to see what they create with the prize and can’t wait to see photos of it being repped out in Palestine.

 

We’ll keep you updated on the story of their merch when it’s printed but in the meantime, you can you want to follow SkatePal and find out more about what they do over on their website.

Eroc Dog X SkatePal

For any of you who know us well, you’ll know we love dogs – especially Frenchies! So we couldn’t do an interview with SkatePal without including a video of their awesome ambassador Eroc Dog. You can thank us later.

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