David Mayhew izas a professional skateboarder through most of the 90s. Coming up amongst such legends as Marc Johnson, Jerry Hsu, and Rodney Mullen; Mayhew was a street skating tech-wizard. His most infamous mark on skateboarding was the Osiris D3. A bombastic culmination of the ‘puffy’ skate shoe of the 90’s which actually came out in 2000. It was loved, hated, and remembered. Osiris has re-issued it several times (current models available are vegan, link at the bottom of this page) and Jenkem recently interviewed Mayhew about the shoe. David along with his family have been Vegan for eight years and posting about it on social media. Contributing writer Kevin Marks spoke with Mayhew on Go Skateboarding Day in Madison, WI about skating, veganism, and even the D3.
Where did you grow up? Madison, Wisconsin
What year did you first step on a skateboard and how did that come about? Seeing my older brother skateboarding just looked so cool. He got me into it. That would have been around 1986.
Does your older brother still skate? No, it’s been a long time off the board for him.
Do you recall the 1st skate magazine you ever saw? It was a Thrasher Mag, 1985 or 1986.
First sponsors? Small Room and Etnies. I rode for a shop in Madison called California Connection.
Did you ever work in a skate shop as a teenager? The owner of California Connection would let us work off product, help put boards together and clean things up. It was never an official job.
How did you end up in San Diego? After riding for Small Room I started to ride for a company called Evol. That was right around the time H-Street split up. Plan B and Evol were the companies that came out of the split. Evol was based out of San Diego so it seemed like the next step. Plus I had a few friends that were living in SD.
What was your first photo in a magazine? It was a Krux Trucks ad in Slap, black and white sequence of a kickflip nose slide nollie flip out.
Who would you room with on an Osiris trip? Kanten Russell or Tyrone Olson
How much of a role did you have in designing your Osiris shoe? I came up with the concept of the lace loops the rest was done in-house. I wanted something different. I remember being on an Osiris tour and every shoe in all the shops looked the same. My thought was I just wanted something different. I ended up seeing a hiking boot at a Sports Authority store that had loops at the top of the shoe. I had a vision to continue the loops all the way down the side, next thing you know the D3 was born. At the first trade show the D3 wasn’t very popular and then 6 months after that they couldn’t make enough. Crazy time for sure.
We hear so much about pros earning big checks for a few years, and then having nothing to show for it. Did you make investments with your shoe checks? Overall I’m pretty frugal. My big purchases would have been a car and a house. I also invested some in the stock market which was doing great until 2008!!
How much time transpired from first moving to San Diego to owning a home there? I moved out in 1994 and bought my house in 1999. My first pro pay check was for $300 and that’s not going to buy you anything in San Diego.
Wackiest place skateboarding has taken you? Honestly, I don’t really have one. Traveling was such a gift from skateboarding. It’s something I never expected when I first turned pro. And who knows, some people might think Madison is a wacky place.
During your tenure at Osiris, which three teammates amazed you with their skating ability? Jerry Hsu, but I met him before Osiris. He was about 14 when he went on a Maple tour with us. It’s easy to see his talent now. Chris Dobstaff would be another one. He had a big bag of tricks and was really creative. Smolik was also amazing. All three of them thrashed and had a natural ability. It was also cool to see Kanten Russell hold it down because I grew up watching him skate. So many people just run out of steam. Tyrone Olson is still going hard still to this day.
Can you name a skater that never got their due in the professional ranks? Way too many to mention. We had this guy from Green Bay, WI. Troy Turner is his name and man that dude was years ahead of his time. Most of us would watch a video and then learn the tricks but he would already be doing them. He never made it pro but easy could have.
Out of all the board companies you’ve ridden for which brand do you look back on with the fondest memories? It would be a toss up between Osiris and enjoi. We traveled so much with Osiris, all around the world. Plus it was most of the homies from San Diego. Enjoi was fun because it was Marc’s creation and it felt so good after the A-team. He is a creative dude and it felt good to have him in the director’s chair. Skateboarding was very serious and judgmental for a while.
What was the lead up to you moving back to Madison in the fall of 2004? It was a few things that triggered it. One being that MJ was going to leave enjoi and go to Chocolate. Second would be Osiris kicking me off the team for no reason while I still had a great selling shoe. Third would be the housing bubble. My neighbor’s house in SD sold for almost double what they paid, made me wonder what I could get for my house. I had an open house and about 2 minutes into it a family wanted to pay my top asking price, hard to say no.
Had you always wanted to open a skate shop? Not really. When I got back to Madison I noticed that none of the shops really carried good stuff or did anything fun. I wanted to change that. Next thing you know I had a partner and in 2005 we opened.
How did the name Alumni originate? I kinda felt like I was an alumni of skateboarding. Going from kid to pro and back made me think of it like school. Plus Madison is a big college town.
What do you see as the role of the local skater owned & operated shop? Listen to the skate community. Some people may want more pro’s to come to town and some people just want more local events (contests, games of skate, video premier’s…) Keep the kids engaged and happy.
What were the major struggles in running your own shop? About 3 years into the shop, Zumiez opened up 2 stores. In some bigger towns that might not seem like a big deal but we needed those kids who were just starting. Another thing would be Nike SB and I feel like that story has been told by many small store owners.
What led you to get out of the shop recently? My wife and I started a family, a boy 4 1/2 and a girl 2. I have been staying at home with the kids and not having much to do with the shop. We did have 2 employees to take my hours so I felt like once the kids were in school I would jump right back in. My business partner had other plans. I wanted to do more community stuff like lessons and skate camps, along with doing more events at local schools. He thought those were all terrible things and wanted the shop to have nothing to do with them.
With the growth of web sales, do you see a future in the local skate shop? I believe if you have a good relationship with the skaters, they will shop in your store. I think as a society we need to understand how spending money at a local store can help pay for other things in your community. When you buy online who knows where the money ends up. So get your butt off the couch, support local!!
What are you other interests outside of skateboarding? I played some soccer when I moved back, both indoor and outdoor. Since becoming vegan I have enjoyed learning how to cook. Now it’s all about family time with the wife and kids.
When did you find veganism and how did you come to that path? My wife and I have been vegan for 8 years now. She grew up a vegetarian and my dad was a vegetarian growing up. I had friends that had been vegan years before. It all clicked for me. I was driving to work one day and heard an interview with Karen Dawn, a vegan book author. I told my wife about it and we both read her book “Thanking the Monkey”. NO turning back. My wife and I support each other. It can seem like looking up a mountain, like how can I make this happen. The key is baby steps, take time to learn “why”? What is making you want to change: health, ethical, earth, global warming? It’s everything for us.
Were you vegetarian for a while or go right to being a vegan? I joined my wife as a vegetarian for about a week or 2. I felt like I only ate cheese, cheese and more cheese. It is easy to be an unhealthy vegetarian/vegan. A few days into it is when I heard Karen Dawn’s interview, perfect timing!!
There are very few vegans in the skateboard world and even fewer who are willing to be vocal about it. I was psyched to see that you proudly proclaim your veganism on your instagram page @davidrmayhew
are there other ways you are vocal about your choice to be vegan? I try to promote it to friends but not push. A few of my friends have changed to being vegan in the last couple years. My wife and I helped do the first ever Madison City Vegan Fest, they are on year 6 now. More and more often people are interested if the topic is brought up.
Is your immediate family vegan or veg? My dad is a vegan.
Has it created any tension in your relationships?No tension but some jokes. Everybody thinks it is my wife making me do it, like it makes you less of a man.
Are you raising your children vegan? YES, YES, YES!! Both of our children are vegan and will be as long as they live in our house. We understand that they will have a learning curve. All we can do is pass on our knowledge and hope they can figure things out.
What challenges if any does that present? Now that our son is going to preschool we have to plan out snacks. The school works well with us and plans out all snacks ahead of time. They have a few other kids that are vegan which helps.
Best city for veganism/vegan options that you’ve visited? Closest would be Chicago for us. We also liked Seattle and SF. Gonna be in San Diego and LA this September, excited to see what they have to offer.
How would you rate Madison for being vegan friendly? Madison only has one vegetarian/vegan restaurant. I end up cooking most of our food. The summer/fall is great for salads and soups. Winter is a different story and is kind of a struggle.
Favorite vegan meal to cook for the family? We love a nice big salad most days. I also make black bean burgers and chickpea cutlets. Those both use Vital Wheat Gluten which is a great source of protein. We try hard to use a ton of fresh veggies and a protein source with each meal. Winter is soups, sweet potato/peanut African stew would be one of my favorites.
Can you point to one film that you would recommend a person watch who is considering going veg or vegan? We watched “meet your meat” from PETA. My wife and I have made our decision to stay vegan and will never turn back. Watching those films makes me sick. I’ve heard the film “earthlings” is a good one. I believe that when the time comes you will have your moment when all of the dots line up.