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Q+A WITH AUDREY FAISON (@BBFAIS + @CONCRETEQUEENZ)

Q+A WITH AUDREY FAISON (@BBFAIS + @CONCRETEQUEENZ)

In preparation for our collab with Concrete Queenz, we sat down with the founder to learn all about the ins & outs of how she got started, what she’s working on now, and what she sees for the future of Concrete Queenz. Read on to learn more about Audrey & the mission of the Concrete Queenz foundation, a skateboarding community for girls in South LA. 

What made you want to start Concrete Queenz?

I'm originally from Baltimore Maryland and I went to the University of Maryland College Park where I majored in Public Health. I fell in love with the kids that I worked with and I saw how dysfunctional the educational system was in these schools compared to the schools I went to growing up. From this awareness, it ignited a passion in me to serve these students by providing them with as many opportunities as I could.  I applied for Teach for America and I was placed in Los Angeles and taught for 7 years with Green Dot Public Schools.”

 

“From my experience as a teacher, I noticed that in addition to educational disparities and lack of resources, there was a lack of opportunity for kids to play and more specifically a safe place for girls to engage in sports. At this point, I had been skating for about 2 years and skateboarding truly changed my life. I wanted to bring that same opportunity and experience to the girls at my school.”


“I started Concrete Queenz in the Spring of 2022 as a teacher-led club after school. I had no real idea of how the program would operate or if there would be any interest. We started with 12 girls in the program, and from that point on there was an overwhelming amount of support from the skate community and there were so many girls that were interested in the program. That was really the first time I was really like “oh, I have something here”.”

“In the Fall of 2022, I filed for my non-profit status and that year we had 25 girls in the program and then that's when I knew I needed to turn my full attention to focus on this program. I quit my teaching job in June of 2023 and this was the first year that I started working full time on CQ.”

What is the mission behind Concrete Queenz?

Concrete Queenz is a nonprofit that brings skateboarding and community to underserved girls in South LA. Our mission is to create a safe and inclusive space for girls to learn and practice skateboarding while also building valuable life skills such as leadership, teamwork, and communication.”

 

When did you start skateboarding? And who taught you?

I grew up surfing a little bit and then I started skating in 2020. I live in Venice and I taught myself. I would skate miles and miles every day from Marina Del Rey to the Santa Monica pier and back. I just became obsessed with skating and then I started going to the Venice Skatepark and everyone at the park was super supportive and helped me learn new things and I haven't put down a skateboard since.”

 

Who can join Concrete Queenz? How can they join?

“Concrete Queenz is open to girls at our two school sites and we can currently serve up to 50 girls per year.  When we have off campus trips and events other people are welcome to come and join and skate with us. If you're interested in becoming a mentor you can apply through the link in our bio.”

 

A look behind the scenes -- how many people help you run CQ? How can more people get involved? What's the day-to-day like?

Right now it's pretty much just me behind the scenes in terms of operating the non-profit. We have about 10-12 amazing mentors that are at our skate sessions and support with programming and teaching the girls how to skateboard. I really could not do it without them and I'm so grateful for all of their support”

 “Aside from overseeing all aspects of Concrete Queenz’ programs and initiatives, I am responsible for brand and partner management, social media management, grant writing, non-profit compliance, fundraising, and also managing payroll and taxes and all of that accounting business. Depending on the day my schedule can be pretty different, and I'm really just trying to balance everything and make sure that our program is strong when we're getting in front of our girls. 

 

 “If you're interested in being a mentor with us, you can fill out the Google form that's linked in our bio on Instagram and we will reach out to you to schedule a welcome call and let you know the next steps for applying to become a mentor. If you're interested in volunteering for another position such as content collaboration or grant writing you can also reach out to us.”

Where does Concrete Queenz usually skate?

We have a contract with Green Dot Public Schools so on Tuesday we skate at Animol Legacy and Thursday we skate at Animo Mae Jemison. We also go on trips to different skate parks such as the Wilson Park in Compton, Monitor Skatepark in Watts, and the Venice Skatepark. We've also been able to go on some weekend trips such as our trip to Bones Love Milk Shredquarters in Huntington Beach and The Berrics. We've also been able to collaborate with the Poseidon Foundation to send two girls to Woodward West skate camp over the summer and this year we're working with Skate Like A Girl to hopefully send girls to their YMCA Camp at Sequoia Lake.”

 

What is your go-to skateboard? What's the best board to learn on?

 

“I learned to skate on a Carver and I think that's a great beginner board because it's super cruisy and it has soft wheels. Then I transitioned to a Yowsurf which I absolutely love because it has a looser truck and you can do more big surf turns and I just think it's a great deck for riding in bowls and skating transitions. My favorite model is the Snappers. More recently I've transitioned to a regular skate deck and I've been loving that. It’s a Cruzaders deck with Indy trucks and Bones wheels.”

Do you have any tips for young girls who are just getting started skating?

Don't give up! Keep skating even if you only see boys around you. Girls are just as strong and powerful and talented so keep doing it! Also see if you can find other girls in the community to skate with and don't be afraid to start a group together to push each other and support one another and love each other through the amazing sport of skateboarding.”

 

What is your favorite memory from Concrete Queenz?

My favorite memory from Concrete Queenz is probably seeing all the girls come back year after year and seeing the improvements they've made. I remember the first couple sessions that we had and girls were barely able to push around and stand on their skateboards and now the same girls are the ones that are dropping in and it's really awesome to see every year the group is getting more confident and it's been really inspiring to me and pushes me to continue to improve my skating.”

 

Where do you hope to see Concrete Queenz in 5 years?

In 5 years I want Concrete QueenZ to be hitting our target budget and to have expanded to other schools in South LA. I want Concrete Queenz to be able to bring on more full-time staff members and to have Concrete QueenZ alumni back in our program and be the ones that we're hiring as the next generation of Concrete Queenz staff.”

 

 

 

To see more follow Audrey on Instagram @bbfais or @concretequeenz

Check out the Concrete Queenz website here !

To support Concrete Queenz you can purchase our necklace we created with Audrey!

Link to necklace: https://www.getbacknecklaces.com/collections/new-arrivals/products/concrete-queenz-st-christopher-necklace 

All images taken by Victoria Craven @theprettycultivator 

Read next:   Give Back with Get Back: Concrete Queenz

Give Back with Get Back: Concrete Queenz


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