The PR, blogger, skateboarder and general multi-task-wizard Maria Falbo chats skating and feminism (one day before the Anywhere Road exhibition she helped initiate in London)
Interview by Sam Haddad, photography by Britta Burger
I started skating at 14 and my mum worried a bit. She once hid my skateboard when she went on holiday and wouldn’t tell me where it was. I was so annoyed. They never understood it or encouraged it but then they didn’t hate it either.
At school I was a bit of a geek, well not a geek but I got good grades was on every sports team, though I mixed in all the different circles. I grew up in the Dorset countryside, and they built an amazing skate park in our town.
It’s so important to be a part of something when you’re young, all I did was lived and breathed skateboarding.
It’s given me so much, without it I can’t imagine what I’d be doing, the friends you meet the travelling the global community, the happiness doing it everyday, the progression, it’s unreal.
I studied design management for fashion retail at Manchester Uni. My course was really broad from promotion and graphic design to learning about technical fabric and engineering. It was a science degree too, which is totally random.
I took a year out before my final year to skate and do fun things. I went to Barcelona for four months and filmed for Jenna Selby’s skate video As if and what.
Then I went to intern with Nikita in Iceland and I actually got to design a five-panel hat. They had the best vibe, that Icelandic vibe. And they’re such amazing people, super creative, and not corporate in anyway. As soon as it starts snowing everyone drops everything. I went out with Heida [Birgisdottir, the founder and headd designer] one day riding powder. Everyday at lunch someone cooks a massive meal, and they all sit down and have beers. I made spaghetti and meatballs from scratch, that’s my speciality. I would have loved to stay out there but I don’t know if I could deal with the weather and the darkness. I’m a sun baby.
I’ve always known I wanted to be part of skateboarding and street fashion. I started my blog copsonstreet in Barcelona and at first it was just a place to put things that I liked. Then Natalie, a DJ friend from Manchester, got involved and then we brought Emily, who designs clothes, on board and we’ve just brought in the photographer Lydia Garnett who’s on totally the same vibe.
It’s not supposed to be a girly thing, it just happened that way. We’re into sports and street fashion with a tropical fusion. We design clothes and create content and we just did our first shoot series where we shot Bren Mar this Chicago rude boy and made him all tropical.
People sometimes think skateboarders are slack but that’s just the stoners. I know a lot of people in skateboarding that are really driven to do stuff. Danny Wainwright, for example, is a bit of a hero. He was on Vans and he’s got his own store and now he’s managing Vans Europe. It’s not really work if you’re just shooting and doing stuff with your friends I mean that’s the dream. I would love it to be the way I make my money.
Where would my dream studio be? I don’t know Hawaii maybe, as I’m obsessed with tropical everything. After I graduated I spent a lot of time in LA skating with the American girls, in Venice beach skating with palm trees around you. It wasn’t sketchy, more comedy, there was a rasta dude stood in a bin holding a bit of cardboard where he’d written “Shitty advice one dollar". And the weather there, everyday you wake up and put on shorts, t-shirt, vest. Maybe LA then there you go, you’re always on holiday and everyone’s chilling. In London everyone works too hard, it’s so fast it definitely takes it out of you.
I get every Friday off, as my boss knows how to keep us happy. And me having that day to skateboard and do copsonstreet keeps me motivated to work hard for him the rest of the time.
Skate contests are not fun for girls, well I personally don’t think so. It’s a lot of pressure and you’re competing against your best friends, I definitely prefer just making cruisey films.
My favourite girl skater to watch was always Elissa Steamer. Vanessa Torres is one of the most interesting, insane and fun people I’ve ever met and she just skates so gnarly. Marisa dal Santo and Alexis Sablone smash it and Sarah Meurle from Sweden.
I have no idea why skaters are more creative people but they totally are.
I hate the idea that a guy skating at 30 would be seen as normal but with a girl it might be frowned upon.