When I thought about writing a piece for Surf The Greats about the local Toronto scene there was no doubt in my mind about what I wanted to highlight. What started as casual meetups with like-minded skaters has turned into a full fledged brand, movement, and all around badass collective of womxn. Babes Brigade is Toronto’s own skateboarding brand and collective founded by Steph Battieste, who has turned a childhood love into a life-long passion. Bringing together womxn of all ages and backgrounds to grow together as skateboarders, Babes Brigade is a safe space for all experience levels of skaters to band together. Weekly classes are held at skateparks around Toronto along with events that connect skaters, artists, videographers, and designers. I caught up with Steph recently to chat about her passion, what drives her, and even had her help curate this month’s playlist, which is full of tunes sure to get you grabbing your board and booking it out the door to your closest skatepark.
What initially drew you to skateboarding?
When I was a kid I found a skateboard in my garage. The board was originally given to one of my brother’s from a friend. I didn’t have that much exposure to skateboarding, but decided to pick it up and learn how to use it. I originally liked it because I was a very shy kid. I wasn’t a fan of team sports but was still an active person. Being able to try something fun and new, and being able to learn at my own pace with zero pressure from outside sources made it favourable right away.
How did Babes Brigade start, and has your idea for it changed over time? What’s your current plan for the future of it?
Babes Brigade began as an idea I had to connect with womxn in my local community (downtown Toronto) who skateboarded. I used Facebook as a platform to do so. It started in 2015 and has since developed into a fully registered and trademarked business that offers skateboard lessons and casting services. I had to stop doing meet-ups and events since COVID-19 started but as of recently the restrictions are easing up so I should be able to start holding events again. I also plan on launching an online shop offering clothing and eventually skateboards.
What has been one of your most memorable skateboarding experiences?
Back in 2016 I had a Babes Brigade Skate Team and we went on a couple skate trips from Toronto to North Bay. We would skate multiple parks on our way to North Bay and one of the team members (Chantal Garcia) created challenges to complete along the way. These challenges were similar to those on “King of The Road” (a challenge based contest for skate teams, presented by THRASHER magazine). My best friend, Amber Moffatt would host these events by allowing the team along with about five others to stay at her place while on our weekend long trip. These trips were some of my fondest memories. Our last trip was featured on King Skate Mag and VANS even sponsored us.
What kind of music do you listen to when you skate? How do you find music and skateboarding connect for you personally?
Over the years I have discovered some of my favourite songs through watching skate videos. Music is something that gives me energy and puts me in a certain mood; one that inspires me to skate harder and faster. I like high energy music like punk, hardcore, and hip-hop. If it gets me stoked, I am listening!
What drives you on a daily basis?
I’m always inspired to do bigger and better-and I’m proud of my accomplishments to date-but I always have a future goal to be accomplished. I plan on running this business for the foreseeable future. It’s my passion and I am excited to see what the future has to hold.
For more information on Babes Brigade visit: www.babesbrigade.ca
Words by DJ Waves. Photographs by Stella Grob and DJ Waves. Video by Chantal Garcia.
DJ Waves is a Toronto based creative who's been in the music industry for 8+ years. She's a regular on the resident DJ team for Budweiser Stage, moonlights as a guest host on U of T's CIUT radio station, and is a frequent headbanger at local shows. Spinning vinyl and digital tracks, her sets span every genre and time-period, making for an eclectic collection of sounds that is groovy, nostalgic, daring, and euphoric. Her sets and playlists often draw on a variety of experiences and interests that form her unique sound. She's got a penchant for hats, muscle cars, the desert, and coffee. If she's not behind a DJ booth she's most likely at Toronto's Cherry Beach, floating on a SUP or taking an aimless drive at sunset with the radio cranked. Find her on Instagram.