This Is Me: Amy Gunther

While we’re battling the last deadline of the year (woho!), here’s one more This Is Me from the mag vault: the owner of the KCDC skate shop in New York

Interview by Posy Dixon, photo by Suzette Lee

I love watching someone get a skateboard for the first time. Even if all hell is breaking lose behind the scenes, if I take the time to watch as the board is set up and handed to the person, the look on their face changes any negativity I might have had a second before that. It keeps me going.

I grew up in a small beach town in Eastern Long Island. It was really beautiful but desolate in winter. The solitude forced me to find interests that didn’t require a lot of other people. I listened to the local college radio station and got into punk rock and hardcore. I gravitated towards the kids in school that liked music too. It turned out by chance that most of them were skateboarders. Once we all found each other we had a great time.

I didn’t have much parental guidance, so school was kind of tough for me. I did well but didn’t participate in extra activities. If I didn’t want to go to school there wasn’t anyone telling me I had to go. Looking back, it taught me how to be responsible for myself. I chose to go to school.

I helped a friend out with a skate shop and realised the positive effect it had on the community. I’d moved to Westchester, New York, after taking a break from modelling. I also enjoyed the challenge of running a small business. A few years later after I moved back to New York City, a friend approached me saying that he was interested in opening a skateshop and would I help. Once I saw the potential of the neighbourhood and the lack of shops that were promoting skateboarding in a positive light, I went for it. My main inspiration was to create a unique place where people felt comfortable getting into skating.

We opened KCDC during a recession in 2001 and have been humbled repeatedly by the economy. The margins in skateboarding supplies are very different than in clothing or footwear. We are very fair with our prices and have taken huge hits financially. It’s been a constant motivator for me though. I’ve had to figure out ways to keep building the equity of the brand with little to no money to do it. I’ve learned a lot about what the skateboard community is all about. They have been a huge help in supporting the shop.

We were very lucky to get the location we have currently. But our ramp itself is very difficult to maintain for many reasons. I’ll leave it at that.

Most people that skate the ramp are male but occasionally we have some girls come shred. We’ve always made an effort to support girls that skate. We’ve done all girl skate nights and skate clinics. It’s really hard to skate on the east coast as it is, with the extreme weather changes and lack of facilities. I think there are more girls that skate out west than here.

For eight years I tried to have a respectable amount of girls product in the store but it never paid its rent. When I had to decide what changes to make for us to stay afloat I had to cut a good amount of the space for girls’ stuff. It totally sucked. I can’t wait to bring it back.

Inspiration lies all over the city. Diane Von Furstenberg (the designer) taught me always to keep my eyes open and showed me that you can be a successful businesswoman and still have a great time in life. My friends inspire me daily, as do my family, my staff at KCDC, yoga, my dog Lucie, the Melvins and all the entrepreneurs who keep doing it for the love. The skateboarding community of New York City keeps me wanting to continue to support it.

I wasn’t raised in a way that differentiated men from women in a work environment. I gravitate towards hard workers and people that love what they do, which is both men and women. Thanks to these people KCDC is on the up and up. Our staff are amazing and New York City is doing a lot to support skateboarding so we are psyched! The future is very bright.


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