Lisa Whitaker has a long and impressive history in skateboarding. Though you might not recognise her name, if you follow women’s skateboarding you will surely know her work. Lisa has filmed for a bunch of female skate videos including the legendary ‘Getting Nowhere Faster’ by Villa Villa Cola. She also founded Girls Skate Network and works with the Women’s Skateboarding Alliance. In her most recent venture, Lisa founded Meow Skateboards, which supports one of the best all-female skate teams in the world.
Why did you decide to start Meow and what were your goals for the company when you first set it up?
My husband had the initial idea to start a company after getting a tax refund. He grew up skateboarding as well and thought it would be a fun project we could work on together.
For me the spark was being at one of the biggest contests with some of the top female skateboarders in the world and realizing a majority of them didn’t have board sponsors and even the top three on the podium were only “flow” and not officially part of the team. I skated for Rookie Skateboards in the late 90s, which was an awesome opportunity for me; now I was in the position to make something similar happen for the next generation.
We weren’t setting out to make a “girls” skate company. We just wanted to start a company for fun that would support a female team, give them something to be a part of and a platform to be seen.
As the gender gap in skateboarding closes, do you see Meow ever sponsoring guys?
I don’t want to compete with things that are already being done and done well. My passion has been filling this void. I’m very excited by a future where a company like this won’t be needed and I’m open to changes as long as we’re doing something unique.
Where did the name ‘Meow’ come from? Being a corgi owner, I wouldn’t pick you as the “crazy cat lady” type…
At the time we were trying to come up with a company name a lot of my friends were saying “meow” to each other instead of “hello”. I’m not even sure how that all started or if there was another meaning to it… I was just hearing it a lot and thought it would be a fun name. I also love cats and would likely be a “crazy cat lady” if my husband wasn’t so allergic to them, but don’t tell that to Milo (my corgi).
You have an impressive team of skaters including Lacey Baker and Vanessa Torres. What do you look for when considering skaters for the Meow team? How much of it depends on skill vs. attitude and personality?
I love our current team, we have such a great mix of amazing skateboarders and personalities. It is hard to put in words what I look for, but I know it when I see it. Skill, style, trick selection, speed, personality, self motivation, ability to create content (photos/videos) and sometimes location all factor in.
Do you run Meow entirely on your own? How do you find the time (you have a kid now too!) and the motivation to do it all?
My husband helps pack orders when I have my hands full and he designs the catalog. Other than that I do everything myself… usually in the middle of the night when my son is sleeping. Lack of time is my biggest struggle right now, but I know he won’t be this small forever so I’m enjoying my time with him. It doesn’t take much for me to stay motivated because I love skateboarding and all the people it keeps me connected with.
Last but not least, where can people get their hands on Meow products?
Over the last year or so we have opened several distributors, so our product can now be found around the world. If your local skate shop doesn’t have what you are looking for in stock then you can ask them to order it for you or get it on our website.