GREENVILLE — To be a successful artist is to be unique, to break boundaries and to create out of passion. The intersection of passion and creativity is where the best art is made, and Latosha Stone, a Greenville native, has found this sweet spot.
Stone, 33, a Greenville High School graduate, opened her own skateboard shop, Proper Gnar, in 2013 and will soon be moving in to the Darke County Makers Co-Op exhibit located at 311 S. Broadway Street, Suite B, in Greenville.
Stone was raised in Greenville and left briefly to study art at Sinclair and Wright State before returning. Her work has been featured in Elle magazine, has been recognized in Beyonce’s directory for black-owned businesses, and she has been invited to a brand meet-up where she had the opportunity to talk with Stevie Williams, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, and singers SZA and Saweetie. She has also been supported on multiple occasions for founding the first black-woman owned skateboard company.
When asked why she decided to get into the skateboarding business, Stone confirmed it is her passion project.
“Art is my passion and what I went to school for,” she said. “So I combined that with skateboarding, my other main interest, and went from there. I also felt like there was a lack of representation and support for women in the skateboarding industry, so I wanted to change that, as well.”
Due to the pandemic, Stone was laid off from her everyday job in March and has been working full time on Proper Gnar ever since. She has gained a considerable amount of traction in the skateboarding industry in recent months and, as it appears now, the sky is the limit for the potential growth of her business.
“People have this stereotype about starving artists, but that’s not true at all if you work hard and properly market yourself and brand,” Stone remarked. “The photos people send me of my art hanging on their walls or them skating on a board I designed is so exciting and rewarding to see.”
In the coming years, Stone is poised to see Proper Gnar grow beyond what she had ever hoped when starting the brand. With the national recognition of her brand she has found herself face to face with some of the biggest skateboarding companies in the world.
“My goal for this year was to get my boards in skate shops,” confirmed Stone. “And, as of next month, my brand will be carried by the biggest skate shop in North America, Zumiez. So, moving forward, I guess just keep it going, start adding more women to the team, get more skate sessions going once COVID cools down, and open a retail space.”
Stone highlighted that, through the love put into her work, she hopes to inspire a new generation of young people to reach for their dreams and not give up on their passions.
“Don’t let people tell you that you can’t be successful,” said Stone. “I hope to inspire more people to start skateboarding, regardless of their age or gender. I hope people will see my art and some of my messages and also be a little less stereotypical and more accepting of people who are different from them.”
Stone resides in Greenville with her fiance, Zach Keagy, and her 13 year-old daughter Willow. The small pop-up shop she will open at the Makers Co-Op next month will be the only skate shop in the Darke County area. The next closest are in Celina and Dayton. Stone says she hopes that the opening of her skate shop will bring in Darke County natives and people from other areas to share in her love of art and skateboarding.
Stone’s brand, Proper Gnar, has 67,000 followers and counting on Instagram. Join the community by searching the Instagram handle @propergnar to view some of her work.