Satta Skates: Five steps to a modern skateboard company

Joe Lauder, a 24 year old south Londoner, has a curious double-fronted business: landscape gardening and skateboards. It trades under his Satta brand. Here, Joe explains the five critical steps for building his business.

01. I went up to a guy in a gardening uniform on my first day in Australia and asked him for a job. I had arrived there via South East Asia, and found the temple gardens inspiring places and thought how brilliant it would be to work outdoors. I got the gardening job and it was amazing for the three months I spent in Australia so I continued to garden when I got back to London. It was also in Australia that I first started to skateboard — as a way of getting to work on the super smooth pavements.

02. People started asking me to build bespoke benches and tables for their gardens. I was working as an assistant in landscape gardening agencies in London, and quickly went freelance. I started getting a lot of commissions for bespoke outdoor furniture — people would ask me if I could make a bench or table to fit a certain spot. My first was a bench that went around a tree in Wimbledon. I didn’t have a workshop but used the skills I’d picked up laying decking.

03. I enrolled on a design course to learn more about fine furniture production. I never planned to see the course through, so kept pestering the technicians at London Metropolitan University to teach me the skills I needed; I just wanted to get on with working. Six months into the course, I used my student loan to buy equipment and set up my workshop — Studio Satta. The workshop was then opened in early 2011 and I started getting commissions for all kinds of furniture, both indoor and outside pieces, whilst still doing the landscaping.

04. I went travelling to Nepal, Tibet, India and Indonesia, and that’s when Satta Skates was born. I became slightly bored of being asked to recreate things people had seen in magazines. While I was away, I decided I wanted more creative control, and had the idea of combining my two passions: skateboarding and woodwork. I’ve surfed since I was 16 and was inspired by the boards made in the 60s and 70s through which you can see the evolution of surfing in to skateboarding. The boards are more about skating’s surf origins and the accompanying riding style, how it was at the beginning, rather than the tricks. I got home and began to use the left-over wood from my furniture jobs to make skateboards.

05. I launched a collaboration with artist Stevie G at the Beach Gallery off Brick Lane in January 2013. He had illustrated a series of my boards and we put them together into an exhibition. That’s when the skateboarding business started to really take off. Like with the furniture, promotion of the started through word of mouth. I first sold them through friends of friends and people I met at south London skateparks, but now have some local stockists. The next step is to being sold through more shops next summer.

This piece originally appeared in Courier 03, January 2014.