Skateboards mean something special to Sheena Crookes.
“I’ve been a skateboarder for a really long time, and I used to work in the skate industry. Broken skateboards have always been around in my life; forever, just sort of piling up,” Sheena says.
A new mom living with her husband and their two-year-old daughter, May-May, Sheena now spends more time cutting boards up than she does actually skating with them.
She is the founder of SkateBetty, a company that sells jewelry made from discarded skateboards. Sheena makes all the items herself, starting her business venture with nothing but a hand-held lithium ion drill, some YouTube videos, and zero carpentry skills.
“I’m a handy person, but I had no experience and no tools,” Sheena says.
“It was pretty funny. It was really hard at first. It’s not just the hard rock maple you have to cut through, but also the resin in between. You think you would just need a simple tool, but the boards are stubborn.”
“It took me ten hours to make one bangle.”
Despite a rough start, Sheena spent time attending workshops and teaching herself the skills she needed to continue working with the boards. It was well worth it to her if it meant putting the boards to good use.
“Skateboarding takes a lot of work. It’s really hard to have the guts to do it, and the boards are so special to the people who give them to me. I want to share a little bit of that.”
Skateboarding has an important meaning for Sheena as well.
“It’s something that’s a big part of my life,” she says.
“My dad got me into it. He was involved in skateboarding early on, so he introduced me to the really early beginnings of the culture.”
“He has passed away now, so it’s kind of like holding on to something special for me.”
It’s not just skateboarders that appreciate Sheena’s work. She sells her products through Etsy, and has items stocked at boutiques in 34 different countries.
“It’s growing and people are really responding to it,” she says.
“I thought it would be only skaters who buy it, but because it’s so colourful and so naturally pretty I get a lot of different people," she says. "People who are passionate about recycling, people who are passionate about women entrepreneurs, people who are passionate about art – there’s so many I didn’t expect to meet.”
“It’s been kind of a wild ride.”
Sheena is glad to see that more people are taking an interest in recycling and using things that carry a special meaning.
“The boards just seriously mean so much to me. I don’t pay a penny for these things, they just sort of roll into my life. I feel a responsibility to use them,” she says.
“I think we all could appreciate everything more. It all comes from
somewhere, it really does.”
“I hope whoever gets my stuff is stoked on what it is and where it
came from and can feel the special energy that’s trapped within it.”