“Do it! It will be hard, especially because skating is still a male dominated sport, but it has gotten a lot better and more accepting over the recent years. Don’t let negative people get to you.” #LLA Meets Lady Boss, Latosha Stone, Founder of Proper Gnar.

Latosha Stone

Leading Ladies Africa: If you could describe yourself with one word, what would it be?

Latosha Stone: Creative! I chose that because it basically covers everything that I do. I’m an artist but I can’t stick to one medium. Some days I feel like doing an oil painting, some days I feel like doing a digital drawing, some days I want to do graphic design, others I want to do a mural. All forms of art are beautiful to me and I’m constantly being pulled in different ways.

Leading Ladies Africa: Have you ever had any disappointments? If yes, how did you handle it?

Latosha Stone: A lot! It’s honestly part of being a skater because some days, especially starting out and learning something new, you try so hard but just can’t land anything. When it’s something like that, I’ll take a break and refocus, or just come back to it the next day. I’ve also had some business disappointments. From not being able to get loans, not being taken seriously at first in the industry, and even some items that I designed and loved doing bad when it came to sales. With the loans, I just put my head down, saved and reinvested, and made it all work without them. I just kept doing my thing and working in my truth, and eventually people saw what I was doing and started respecting it. I also had to realize not to take everything personal. If someone doesn’t like something I made, I have to look on the bright side and think it just might not be their style or what they’re into, but at least I enjoyed creating it.

Leading Ladies Africa: How do you stay innovative as an entrepreneur? And Your Plans for your business In Five Years?

Latosha Stone: I try new things often. I’m always open to new activities and ideas, whether it’s traveling somewhere new, a new painting or drawing technique, trying a new sport, going to a museum, etc. Inspiration can come at the most random times and in places that you least expect it. I also like to watch videos surrounding what I do, I make skateboards so I spend a lot of time watching skate videos and interviews, and trying to see where their pain points are and how I can solve some of their problems. Talking to the people in my community is also vital. I also like to read books and network, and just learn about people and their “come up” stories. That’s so inspiring to me which pushes me to keep going and take risks with some of my ideas. I also try not to limit myself or stay boxed in.

In 5 years, I’d like to expand our skate classes to more states. I’d also like to have a bigger retail space and even a couple more locations, and be able to hire and sponsor more women from the skate community.

Leading Ladies Africa: Tips on how you handle when the going gets tough?

Latosha Stone: I’ve had a lot of ups and downs through out my life, so I just think about how if I made it through those, I can make it through this too! One thing being a skateboarder does is give you a strong will, and persistence to keep going and follow through with whatever you’re doing. It may not be today or tomorrow, but things always get better eventually.

Leading Ladies Africa: Final words to entrepreneurs who want to go into this industry and women in our community?

Latosha Stone: Do it! It will be hard, especially because skating is still a male dominated sport, but it has gotten a lot better and more accepting over the recent years. Don’t let negative people get to you. Unlike in the past, there is plenty of knowledge available online and tutorials to help you learn to skate faster and learn more about skate culture in general. Stay consistent, be original, know your target audience, and be true to yourself.

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