Spotlight on an Inner West Business: Westsyde Connection

If you are interested in skating, fashion or street art, you probably already know about Westsyde Connection. While I’m certainly not a skater, Westsyde Connection, located in Dulwich Hill is so much more than just a skate store. Huge thanks to  RJ, Nathan and John for taking the time to do this interview.

How would you describe Westsyde Connection to someone who hasn’t visited your store?
Westsyde
is a skate store with art hanging space, art supplies, with a huge studio space, legal walls, a skate school for the kids, and a huge event space. We are more than just a store, we encompass an entire culture.

How was Westsyde Connection started and why did you choose Dulwich Hill as the location?
John, Nathan and myself started working together on events some 7 years ago, Nathan and I some 3 odd years before that. We felt the industry was missing something, in a world of web sites and mall stores we wanted to give back to the community in which we had grown up, we had no idea whether or not it would work, the location choice was simple, it was all we could afford at the time, Westsyde takes up a hell of a lot of square metres that the general public doesn’t see, there’s no way on earth we could have ever afforded to do it anywhere else.

What products do you sell and who do you typically cater for?
We cater for the young and the young at heart. We sell spray paint, markers, skateboards, clothing shoes and swag. We cater specifically to the non brainwashed part of society that is not scared of playing ‘outside”.

What is “The Right Push” and how is Westsyde involved?
The Right Push
is our skate school, we actually prefer the term ‘cultural clinics’ as we have plans to grow the programme into graffiti and hip hop workshops in the future.

The right Push is the brainchild of Nathan Ho our business partner, it’s been hugely successful and has given in access of 1000 kids their first experience on a skateboard, where they are coached by real skaters either sponsored or pro, in a safe environment with kids of their own ability, it’s definitely one of our proudest achievements.

Are there other events or workshops that Westsyde is involved with?
We have some sort of event on at all times the next big one is Sidewayz 2012.

You have an amazing wall of art at the back of your business. How did this come about and how do you get artists involved?

That wall came about through sheer tenacity. When we first painted it I was threatened with legal action in the supreme court by some ambulance chaser that works pro bono for the Salvatoion Army (it’s a shared boundary wall) when the big wigs at the Salvation Army got word of the shit storm his property manager and the ambulance chaser were creating they both got the rissole, and a new property manager was installed who was totally cool with us painting the wall.

The email melee between myself and the ambulance chaser is not only hilarious but also about 150 pages long it was an extremely stressful period for me, the property manager was sending around police everyday for two months threatening to charge us with malicious damage, until it got to the stage where I flew to New Zealand to hide from the law and eventually had to threaten the police with a harassment suit if they weren’t going to lay charges. Although verbally threatened by police countless times, charges were never laid.

The Outpost Project on Cockatoo Island last year was a great celebration of street art and was really well received by the public. How was Westsyde involved with the festival? Will Westsyde be participating in the festival in 2013?
Westsyde’s involvement was a last minute thing, and a great thing for us. Bill and John from Ambush kicked arse and changed the game. We’ll be back bigger and badder for 2013. We’ll be the guys with bells on.

Following the famous quote “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”, why do you love what you do so much?
It’s a pretty awesome feeling to know you are teaching people to think for themselves. Teaching kids to skate gives them a sense of independence as well as helping them build a social network not unlike a brotherhood. The beaming looks on their faces makes it all worthwhile.

Are there any future plans for ‘Westsyde Connection’ that you can share with us?
Hip Hop heads, keep an ear out for ‘Cypher Sundays’, art noggins go check www.sidewayzart.com.au, and skate rats, start saving up plywood and screws, we’re gonna build a new mini ramp.

Finish this sentence: I Love the Inner West because….
It’s real.

And finally…

Inner west questions

Best place for a caffeine hit in the Inner West?
Campos rips yer head off, Little Marionette is dope too.

What/where was the last great meal you ate in the Inner West?
Botany View, if you don’t know now you know, best pub food on the planet.

What’s the Inner West’s best kept secret?
Westsyde

Westsyde Connection
441 New Canterbury Road
Dulwich Hill
(02) 9560 1660

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