Skateboarding has always been a bit of a boys’ club, with pretty limited female representation within the industry. Having worked with skate brands in Canada for a few years, I mostly just remember seeing hot chicks posing with boards wearing only socks and underwear. That’s not to say I’m necessarily for or against that—it’s just a thing.
But this is where Get Born comes in to switch things up.
Based out of Chicago and Montreal, Get Born is the product of four young women searching for a way to channel their passion for skateboarding and contribute to their local skate communities in a positive way. Their goal is to stay true to what is real in skating and strive to recognize the small instances of genuine passion and innovation that remain in the industry. Get Born is a space for interesting dialogue around a more fluid definition of skate culture, while integrating a female perspective that recognizes skateboarding as an influential and wide-ranging artistic movement.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Chanelle Rezko from the Get Born team, where we talked about everything from how Get Born came to be and where they’re planning to take it next.
VANESSA TAM: Can you introduce yourself to the readers?
CHANELLE REZKO: My name is Chanelle Rezko and I am one of the four co-founders at Get Born Magazine. I help manage the company with a specialization in public relations. The rest of the girls who run Get Born are Hope Christerson, Liv Seidel, and Ayda Omidvar. The four of us share the responsibility of creating online content, web and graphic design, photo and copy editing, art direction, and management of the online store.
How did you first meet the 3 other co-founders of Get Born?
Hope, Liv, and I have known each other since we were little girls running in the same crowds back in Chicago. We used to chill at the skatepark and get into trouble together all the time. We met Ayda when we moved to Montreal for university; she’s from Vancouver, but we feel like we’ve known her our whole lives.
When did you guys decide you wanted to do something creative together and when did you reach that tipping point when it just had to happen?
Back in Chicago, aside from Liv, Hope, and myself, there is a huge group of us girls who are down for skateboarding. There’s just this kind of energy that being around all the girls would bring; it was something so special that we couldn’t just let it go. So we kind of channeled that energy into a platform because we knew that people needed to experience what we were experiencing.
That’s what kind of led to the whole creative concept of Get Born with skateboarding being our main space. We would all meet up at the skate shop, go to the skate park, hang out with other skaters, and get into all kinds of trouble. Then we’d wake up the next day and do the whole thing all over again—it was this energy that absolutely needed to be documented.
What’s the story behind the name Get Born and how did you guys come up with it?
When we were all going over the creative concept for the magazine, we were just hanging out all the time; Hope, Liv, Ayda, and myself. We were in such an intense creative space at the time. We were being so specific with what we were eating, what we were listening to, and the art that we were getting inspired by.
We were only listening to Bob Dylan at the time and he says in one of his songs, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”: “Get sick, get well.” Then he says, “Get born.” At the time we were kinda just all sitting there thinking, “Yo, this is fuckin’ perfect!”
It kinda just hit you guys all at the same time?
Yeah, exactly. It was definitely one of those things where we all looked at each other and were like, “Yo, this has to be it.”
“We’re almost trying to steer away from what’s new and relevant now. We’re trying to bring attention to the more underground shit.”
How do you guys curate your content and decide who you want to feature next?
We definitely have a list of people that we’ve always wanted to interview so usually I’ll just work off of that list. For my personal creative process, however, I like sit down around old skate magazines and find names and underline things that I really want to write about. Then I’ll usually just go from there.
So you’re not necessarily inspired by what’s the newest thing or the newest people in skateboarding?
Yeah nah, I dunno—we’re almost trying to steer away from what’s new and relevant now. We’re trying to bring attention to the more underground shit. Like dig up the old archives and make that relevant.
Well, the reason why we decide to cover that [period of skateboarding] is because we really want to give something back to a culture that gave us so much. When I open a skate mag or watch a skate video or log into a website, the first thing I’ll do is go straight to that whole pocket of skateboarding. I won’t go to the whole corporate and hype pocket, I’ll go and seek out that underground shit.
That’s just where all of our inspiration comes from and we really want to help continue to preserve it through honest journalism. We also wanna have people log onto our website and get that same kind of inspiration that we have gotten for many years. Those independent companies, photographers, and skateboarders—those are the people that we relate to. We just build off of each others’ essences, you know?
So like highlighting what made skateboarding great back in the day?
Yeah for sure! That gets me so hyped. Like how Anthony Pappalardo was skating Love Park in Philadelphia with Stevie Williams back in the day, or how Jamie Thomas founded Zero Skateboards, shit like that. The shit that made skateboarding so raw and so cool. We want to dig back into the past and interview those people.
I’m actually working on interview prep for [Anthony Pappalardo] right now and he’s apparently the hardest skateboarder to track down ever. So it was kind of just a lucky thing that happened for us.
Other than Get Born being run by a crew of girls, how would you say you’re different from other skate publications? Because there are so many skate publications that have been out there for years, like The Skateboard Mag and Thrasher and all that stuff.
Right, and I love all of those mags so much. Those were my bibles when I was a little girl, you know, so I can never hate. However, I relate our work more towards sites like Quatersnacks and Jenkem, and that whole pocket. What sets us apart from all the publications that are out right now, is that we really touch on stories and events that happen within skateboarding that are so legendary, they can’t go undocumented.
Things that we really dig and search for, you know? We really want to tell quality stories and give people quality content. We’re not just like putting out a photo from a dude skating a spot and then the next day, the same dude skated a different spot—that’s already been done and you know, whatever, people follow Transworld and Skate Mag for that stuff.
I think that a lot of media in general, not just mags, put out stuff just to have something out there. Content just for the sake of it.
Yeah, for sure. We take a really long time to sit down with our subject, really analyze our work, and try to portray it in the best way possible. Just so we can create that whole creative genius type of vibe around it.
I feel like everything you guys put out is a feature too.
You should see us, once we have a set subject to interview and feature, we surround ourselves by how that subject would think and what that subject would eat or like. We really go full on.
I like how you guys don’t really bring a lot of attention to the fact that the mag is being run by four girls, but you don’t shy away from the fact either.
We want our work to speak for itself. We like to let our content create a story on its own, one that speaks strongly about our perspective on skateboarding. The most important thing to us is to create something meaningful. However, it’s definitely not easy trying to thrive as women in a male-dominated industry and we are subject to being ‘different’ all the time.
It used to be something we struggled with, until we began using it to our advantage. Since we started Get Born, our experience with the skateboarding industry has become extremely unique. I don’t think anyone has ever seen, worked, or talked about skateboarding with anyone like us. Whether the reactions are bad or good, it’s cool to work and feed off of it.
To influence a cultural space just by walking into an interview, contest, or industry event is extremely interesting. We get really inspired by it actually. Creatively, it gives us the advantage of seeing skateboarding from an outsider’s perspective, something that no one else has shared with the skateboarding community before.
“[Being women] gives us the advantage of seeing skateboarding from an outsider’s perspective, something that no one else has shared with the skateboarding community before.”
Can you expand on that a little more? How did the industry change for you guys after starting Get Born?
Well, it changed when we started getting emails from people outside of our local community. People who were inviting us to events and press conferences—just all that industry type stuff. I swear every time we checked in to one of those things, the person who checks us in would be like, “Oh, you guys are the first group of girls that we’ve checked in.” And it’s true because you’d walk into the spot, you open the doors and it’s just literally all dudes. All dudes and maybe three or four girls and that’s it. So the vibe of the room changes once we walk into it; you just feel like you’re influencing the space in a way that may not have been influenced before.
Do you always feel like it’s a positive influence? Or do you ever get a vibe that’s kinda weird or sketchy?
Um, yeah. We’ve definitely gotten weird vibes from people. That’s just how skateboarding is though, everyone’s always vibing each other out.
But that doesn’t stop you guys.
No. Because we know that the most important thing is our work. It’s not about who’s doing it, if I’m a male or if I’m a female, or how old I am or whatever. It’s the work that we’re putting out that’s the most important thing and that’s why we’re there.
Would you call yourself a feminist?
In terms of exceeding in the professional world I think it’s definitely important for women to stick together. We can’t let boundaries that were set by men restrict us from being powerful and influential. In the end, women are the only sex that can reproduce and bring life to this earth—we are the most essential part of human existence. The world would be a sad and ugly place without us.
I know you guys make physical zines every once in awhile, do you have any plans of ever going fully into print?
Yes, we are definitely going to start producing exclusive print features in the future. Our art direction is being carefully curated for the stories, graphic design, and photos and it’s going to be a big project for us. It’s going to be more of a series type of thing. For now, the girls and I are working on our own creative zines which will be coming out in the next few months. We’re also planning to design some special print editions of the site for sure.
What does skateboarding mean to you? What does it mean to Get Born as a whole?
Skateboarding is a very individualistic hobby. It’s a very personal way of testing yourself and your skills and seeing how far you can push to accomplish something. Anyone who really loves it, shares their own connection with it.
I still remember my older brother passing down his old World Industries Flame Boy shirt to me and wearing it and having this feeling like, “Damn, nothing else could be cooler than this.” To me, skateboarding is the last existing thing on this earth that’s cool. An entire physical performance based on sleekness and style. Something that has the ability to make a common mundane space dangerous and loud.
As a kid, I was undoubtedly drawn to companies, magazines, and individuals who turned a piece of wood with four wheels into a world-ranging movement. I paid a lot of attention to it; I got hooked. It is definitely something that has always been marginalized by mainstream society however. Especially being a young girl, I was constantly told to stay away from investing myself in skateboarding, but I think that’s what attracted it to me even more. It eventually became the only thing that made me want to do something with my life.
No art form or culture is nearly as loud, fast, and interesting as skateboarding. Meeting other girls who feel the same way is truly a blessing. Pushing through the city and cruising the streets with them is like going to therapy but 100 times better. Being able to isolate ourselves and work on Get Born is the best thing ever, and how we spend 90% of our time.
The really sick part about the team is that we all share the same vision. We understand that skateboarding is one of the last places for genuine underground artistic expression. Within the last few years, there has been a huge growth of suit and tie investments that are pushing corporate companies in to dominate the industry, and as a result, some of skateboardings core values are being lost. That’s why our main focus is to tell stories of people, companies, and current events that are still authentic. Hopefully by doing so, we can try to preserve some of the last forms of creative genius that keep skateboarding underground.
What would signify to you that Get Born has really made it?
Get Born is the first thing we think about when we wake up and the last thing we think about before we go to bed. Being able to share a creative space with your best friends and being able to work on it whenever we want is definitely a constant reminder of how significant our success is becoming. Ultimately, our goal is to create something extremely unique within skateboarding and expand it as much as possible. Once we get to that point we will know that we have achieved our goal.
What are you guys working on next?
We just redesigned our website and are currently working on expanding the company into different creative pockets—showcasing more of a lifestyle as opposed to just photos and words. Our online store went live not too long ago so we are focusing on managing that as well. Other than that, we just plan on continuing to work hard, inspire people, and keep core underground skateboarding alive.