Female Founders Giveaway Continues
Female Founders Giveaway continues with Tessa Slisz founder of AZZA Skateboards. We love to find out more about or female founders and her are some answers to questions we posed to Tessa.
What/who inspired you to start your business?
I am a graphic designer, and I’ve always been an athletic person, so I wanted to do something that bridged athleticism and art. In 2014, I heard about Skateistan, which is a non-profit that empowers girls through skating, and that inspired me to start AZZA. I like the idea of representing and empowering women through my work, and I realized that I could do that through skateboarding. Skateboarding in general has such an awesome, creative spirit to it and as a designer, it’s such a unique and inspiring outlet to explore.
Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
I am from Rochester, Minnesota. My childhood was pretty great. I spent most of my time outside. I was a pretty active and athletic kid; running, volleyball, snowboarding in the winter etc. My mother opened her own art gallery and frame shop when I was two years old. When I was not being watched by my grandparents, I was running around my mother’s shop! I spent a lot of time around paintings, photography, and sculpture there. I sort of grew up in that store.
Tell us a story/incident that happened while operating your business that may have made you feel defeated. Now tell us how you overcame that.
I will say that so far the hardest moment was just getting technical aspects of the website up and running (I did it all myself, learning as I went) and putting my work out into the world. I think there is always a little fear about sharing something that is a part of you. It was a great learning process. I’ve been learning that nine times out of ten, people are very kind and encouraging when you share a part of yourself. AZZA is still in its infancy, so (frighteningly) I know that there will be many more obstacles to overcome in the future, but the successes I’ve had so far have given me the confidence to tackle them head on.
Tell us something fun/unique about you that most people don’t know.
Every time I see an amazing dance routine I totally wish I was a professional back-up dancer.
Have you ever been underestimated simply for being a girl/woman? Tell us how.
I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid any big incidents , but I’ve experienced hints of it, like a look or a demeaning comment under someone’s breath. Luckily, I had parents that never told me I couldn’t do something because I was a woman, which was fortunate for me. I think that it made it easier for me to brush off any comment or interactions I have had with someone who treated me with less respect because of my gender.
What are you doing currently and what are your goals?
Currently I am working on building an audience and clothing designs! I’ve really been focusing on signing up for art fairs and trying to get my boards into skate shops as well. And I am always working on new board designs; there are actually a few completed ones that I’m waiting for the right moment to produce.
In the long term, I hope that AZZA can become a positive, empowering influence for girls and help them feel more at home in the skateboarding world. I am also in the research phase of working with a non-profit (like Skateistan) in the future.