Skating, art and surfing.
By Keldine Hull
Women in Venice have always been known for making waves and challenging societal norms. From entertainers to sports figures, and everything else in between, women in Venice have proved time and time again that their voice matters and they too have an ability to inspire change.
As an artist, business owner, former Queen of the Neptune Festival, Neptune Festival committee member and part-time bartender at Surfside, Dakota Rayfield has become a staple within the Venice community whose lust for life is both contagious and endearing. Venice represents an endless source of inspiration and sense of community. “It can be crazy, but it’s so inspirational. It’s got such an eclectic variety of people. You couldn’t ask for a better place of inspiration in life and fun. That’s what this community is all about. It’s about fun, love and respect.”
Dakota always knew that she wanted to be her own boss, and it was her mother who became an early example of that. “My mom is my complete inspiration. She has always been so strong. She’s a single mom, and she was under the mindset to where she didn’t want us to be latch key kids. She developed different businesses so that she could be there when we left for school and when we got home. She always wanted to make sure we always knew she was there for us. She had numerous businesses all throughout my life. We didn’t have everything, but we didn’t need everything. It was all about the love and fun. Being your own boss is one of the most empowering things you can do.”
After a sports injury in high school derailed plans to pursue soccer professionally, Dakota decided to focus on art. She became inspired by the world around her. “I love bright colors. I love faces and eyes, details, flowers, sea life, the ocean. I grew up by the beach. I’ve always lived by the ocean. I felt like being a beach kid in Florida had a ton of influence in my color dynamics, how bright and kind of quirky and weird my stuff can be.”
Despite injuries, Dakota always maintained an active lifestyle but moving to California inspired her to learn more about skateboarding. “It’s such a fearless sport. I was always intrigued by skateboarding. I moved to California when I was 22. My boyfriend at the time skateboarded so I also loved to watch him skateboard. He had a longboard so when he was out doing his tricks, I started hopping on it and getting used to the balance of the board and riding it back and forth. I realized that to ride a skateboard, I don’t need to be a trick rider. I can just be a longboard cruiser.”
As Dakota grew to appreciate the art of skateboarding, she saw another opportunity to express herself creatively. Skateboards became her canvas and the possibilities were endless. She began creating custom boards that could be used for wall art or for riding. “You get to ride a piece of art. And because I can customize to the person, I see it as their sword, their Excalibur. It’s an extension of yourself. You can have whatever you want on that board and when you jump off of it, that board is everything you feel represents you.” Each custom board comes with a skate lesson and skate tool tutorial. A portion of each sale goes to organizations dedicated to keeping the ocean clean.
Through her love for skateboarding and her unique artistic abilities, Dakota encourages other women to be fearless and go after what they want in life. “I knew I wanted to make my own money. I knew I wanted to be my own boss, and I was going to make it happen. It took a while to get here. In the end my art turned into something that had to do with skateboarding, where I get to be inspirational by trying to get more women on the board and feel comfortable about doing it. It’s not just for boys. Everybody deserves a chance to be brave. And I get to express myself artistically and share awareness for causes I believe in.”
For more info, visit designdakota.com.