Poppy Starr Olsen Interview

To celebrate the new year we spoke to young skateboarder, artist and entrepreneur Poppy Olsen.  Not only was Poppy just crowned the 2014 World Cup of Skateboarding Champion for 14 and under Girls Bowl riding but she was also recently invited to do a TED X talk outlining the intersection between art and skateboarding (see below). Poppy has been killing it at life as of late, so if you wanna get hyped to succeed in 2015 then read on!


Tell us a bit about how your interest for both skateboarding and art developed?

I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. My mum used to tape big pieces of paper to the walls at my height from when I was about 18 months old. Each day she would put out different colours and mediums for me to use and I would create a big scribble masterpiece over the space of about a month. I’ve always loved drawing. I started skating when I was 8 and remember trying the same tricks hundreds of times over and over again. I was hooked straight away. So it’s sort of became that when I wasn’t skating I was drawing.


Being approached to do a TED talk at such a young age is a pretty amazing feat! Tell us a bit about this experience, how were you approached to do the talk? were you nervous? How did you develop your talk? 

I guess because I started my business at such a young age I started getting invited to talk at Young Entrepreneur events. Then I was asked to talk at Google for a ‘Women in Business’ seminar and I think after that I got noticed a bit more. TED talks are about sharing new ideas and the theme for TEDx Ultimo was “you are never too old or too young to start something’ I think they liked the fact that I was only 14 had just won the World Cup. After I spoke this amazing 99yr old lady came and danced on stage, she was so graceful. Writing my talk was sooo hard. I really didn’t know which direction to go in. I had practically finished a speech (all about the struggle of women’s skating) and I just thought it sounded a bit whingey, and the last thing I wanted to do was to give Women’s skating a bad rap and I just wasn’t comfortable . It was a week before I had to go on stage and I was packing it, then my coach Hagan came over and made me stand on my skateboard in the middle of my lounge room and made me start talking. What came out was my love of everything skating and art and all of sudden I had a speech. I was really nervous, I practised in the morning on the stage with my slides and it went perfectly and then in front of the crowd I really stuffed up! I forgot a whole section of my speech, I accidentally went backwards with my slides, I repeated a line it was a bit of a mess actually. I hope they do a good job with the editing haha


Most skateboarders your age can only dream of skateboarding with pros, let alone interacting and becoming friends with them. What was it like touring and performing with Tony Hawk?

Tony is really cool and down to earth and he really supports women’s skateboarding. He has probably met thousands of kids that adore him, yet he still has the time to chat to kids like me. :)


You travel a lot for such a young little dude! How do you juggle skateboarding and travel with school?

I started doing distance education last year, which has really helped because I can take my work overseas and I can travel a lot more.


How does the ladies skateboarding scene in Australia compare to that of the USA?

Women’s skateboarding is growing everyday all over the world! America has so many awesome female shredders and there is a lot of different girl teams that train and travel together –it’s really cool. It’s so much smaller in Oz but I guess we’re all pretty close because of it and we all stick together and support each other.


What do the next 12 months look like for Poppy Starr??

Well a really big sponsor is going to come along and say here’s $20,000 you can go to whatever comp you want this year haha  No, I’m doing a demo and a talk with Eddie Elguerra at ‘Stand Tall’ when I get back from Exposure. I’m really hoping I can go to the World Cup in Brazil in December that would be incredible! Then Combi Girls Classic in Jan in LA, Aussie Champs and Bowl-a-Rama in Feb. I’m hopefully touring with Tony Hawk again in March and I really want to go to the Vert attack in Sweden. I’ll have to sell a heap of cards between now and then haha



Feature Photo: Dan Sparagna