Cinema student rolls his way to success with skateboard brand
At 17 years old, Sam Gershwin watched intently over his father’s shoulder as his experienced hands moved over the canadian maple to fashion Gershwin’s first home-pressed skateboard. As a woodworking craftsman, Gershwin’s father showed him the ins and outs of pressing his own boards in their garage at home. What started as a hobby, soon flourished into a business model that incorporated Gershwin’s love of all things skate.
Now 19, cinema major Gershwin has channeled his creative energy into building a burgeoning skate brand called Freakwency. Along with fellow SF State students Tyler Stojack, Mycah Williams and long-time friend Andrew Rainbolt, Gershwin and his crew said they are establishing a name for themselves in the San Francisco skate scene.
“Skating is my absolute passion,” Gershwin said. “I started Freakwency because I want to be happy doing what I love most.”
Gershwin moved from Thousand Oaks to San Francisco with the dream of studying cinematography and immersing himself in the city’s robust skate culture. After his first semester at SF State, Gershwin said he was more motivated than ever to find a professional manufacturer to continue Freakwency beyond his workshop garage.
Over a six-month period, his original supply order of 72 skateboards has dwindled down to four. Along with selling his products in person, Gershwin established a business relationship with the owners of Park Plaza Fine Foods, who distribute his boards to the SF State skate community.
Mark Khoury, co-owner of the Park Merced convenience store, said he was pleased with Freakwency’s sales.
“A lot of kids recognize his boards in the store,” Khoury said. “I’ve even put in another order with Sam so we can continue selling his product here.”
Gershwin is working on getting his boards into San Francisco skate shops like Mission Skate and DLXSF on Market Street. With 20 years of experience in the skate industry, DLXSF buyer and manager Matt Cantor has seen most new skate companies take three to five years to define their direction, establish a presence and gain recognition.
“What Sam’s doing is rad,” Cantor said. “He has a lot to think about when it comes to making his brand stand out, but that’ll come with time as he develops a style in his conceptual endeavors.”
From getting shaken off the back of a Prius while hitching a ride to being chased down by a bulletproof vest-clad security guard, Stojack said some of his favorite memories with his skate crew involved causing mischief while shredding in the city.
“The best part about being in the Freakwency skate crew has been filming with my friends,” Stojack said. “It doesn’t feel like a chore. We bring the camera everywhere we go and film whatever tricks we’re working on that day.”
Their upcoming video, “Get Yo Freak On!” will feature footage of the Freakwency crew’s antics, highlighting the elements of fun and spontaneity that Gershwin said he wants to emulate as the foundation of his brand.
“I like watching skate videos where it’s obvious all the skaters are friends,” Gershwin said. “That’s what I’m doing with ‘Get Your Freak On!’ It shows our personalities and skate style, which is a big part of familiarizing people with our crew.”
In addition to the video that will be released in October, Gershwin has several smaller projects in the works, including a new graphic design that will be released on March 21.
“Freakwency and skating are pretty much all I think about,” Gershwin said. “This is what I want to do with my life. I want to continue doing what I want to do on my own terms and being my creative self, and I hope that I can make it doing just that.”