Tyshawn Jones: "I do everything for my mother"
The 22-year-old skateboarder, restauranteur and shoe designer discusses success, running his own business and what he spent his first paycheck on.
Photography Mario Sorrenti
This story originally appeared in i-D’s Out Of The Blue issue, no. 366, Winter 2021. With thanks to Tiffany & Co. Order your copy here.
Tyshawn Jones is the coolest and the best skateboarder in the world. 2018 Thrasher Skater of the Year, owner of Taste So Good – a Caribbean restaurant in the Bronx, star of Supreme skate videos Cherry and Blessed, Tyshawn now has two signature adidas shoes to his name, and the world at his feet at just 22-years old. Making his second i-D cover in this issue – this time alongside supermodel Imaan Hammam – we caught up with the Bronx native to talk money, cars and the importance of mums.
Hey! Can you introduce yourself?I’m Tyshawn Jones. I do a lot of things and I don’t like to limit myself. I don’t like to label myself as one thing or even as multiple things because who knows what I’ll do one day.
How did your life change after you won Skater of the Year?
I wouldn’t say my life changed in a sense. I’m still the same person, I just have a bit more notoriety.
Is there a memory that sticks in your mind of around the time you won the award? There’s a lot of memories that stick out in my mind from then. I can remember the specific time in my life when I was about to win, and how hard I was working to get my video part done. I was going out with my friends and waking up at six in the morning to try to be the first person in the streets to get a trick. You know, just little things like that. And then: being celebrated after, flying to San Francisco to receive the award with all my family and friends.
**What’s it been like playing yourself in a video game?
**I played myself in a video game one time for like twenty minutes. That was it. It was cool and I love being in a video game but I don’t know, I’m at an age where I can’t really sit around and play video games. I’m trying to live in the real world.
And who’s the most inspiring person in your life?My mother. I do everything for her. I work hard for her. I want to put her in places she’s never been before. She worked to get me where I am today, and if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be where I am. She helped me pursue my dream.
**What is something she taught you?
**She taught me everything I know. She taught me how to work hard and hustle. How to go out and get it. Things like that, you know, things that are installed in me today. She just inspires me for life. I just watched her and learned from her. A teacher doesn’t have to always speak, you can just watch and learn.
Can you remember what you bought with your first big paycheck?I’m cheap. I’ve bought watches and stuff like that but it doesn’t compare to the biggest paychecks I got; not to boast. When I get money I need to think about it because I don’t want money to change my life. Like if I got a cheque for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, I wouldn’t go out and spend it one go. I think about my purchases. I hate wasting money on materialistic things that don’t bring me anything back. I don’t want to buy stuff that doesn’t matter.
What have you learned from running your own business?That it takes time. People might think when they first get that investment or are buying or starting their own business that they’re just going to turn a profit fast. Everything takes time. Everything is patience. It might take three years before you get that investment back and start making money, you know? People think if you’re the boss then you’re rich, but I’ve learned you have to put the workers before yourself. The team is the one. That’s what it’s about. They keep it going. It’s nothing without them. You’ve got to pay your employees before you pay yourself because if their cheque is gone they leave. You gotta bite the bullet if your cheque isn’t there, because you’ll reap the rewards eventually.
“Some people like to dwell on what they’ve already achieved. I hate even talking about winning Skater Of The Year, because that’s 2018, that was ages ago.”
What advice would you give to a younger skater starting out right now? I would say just skate, have fun and be yourself, and it’ll happen, you know It’s cliche to say pursue the dream. We all had that dream to be a professional skateboarder, but don’t think about it too hard because then it blinds the love for skating. If you are passionate about it, and you love it and are willing to work at it, you’ll get there.
**Do you remember something that you really wanted when you were just starting out?
**I wanted to go pro, I wanted a car. I wanted it all, you know, I wanted these materialistic things that I thought meant something. Eventually, you realise they are fun but they don’t matter. Once you’ve got some money, got a nice car, then you realise that. I’m always trying to think about what’s next. I don’t like to dwell in the moment.
**What’s your current goal?
**I wrote a TV show. I shot a pilot for it, paid for it out of my own pocket and everything, and it’s getting edited right now and I would like to get it bought by a big network for the world to see. So that’s a goal of mine. I’m just the type of person who likes to keep moving. Some people like to dwell on what they’ve already achieved. I hate even talking about winning Skater of the Year, because that’s 2018, that was ages ago. I love the award. I love the achievement, and people respect it and honour it so much but in my mind that’s history. I don’t want to keep talking about the past. I want to keep going forward and setting new goals and achieving new things. I want to give people more things to talk about. That doesn’t mean that I’m not appreciative of all the things I have achieved. I took the time to acknowledge it when it happened. But time is the one thing that you can never get back. Not for all the money in the world.
What’s the meaning of life?The meaning of life, that’s a pretty hard question! Everyone’s answer is different. It all depends on your morals and what you believe in. But my meaning for life is working hard, taking care of the people you love and being a good person. That’s how I like to live.
What’s your Uber rating?I drive everywhere. I swore that when I got some money that I would get my own car, and I would never take public transportation again. Not in a way where like, I’m too good for public transportation, but I come from the far part of the Bronx and I had to take the bus every day; I’d get the bus to get to the train. I couldn’t walk to the train because it was so far. It was hell! It was like a two-hour commute every day just to go skate. But I was passionate, I did it every day. There wasn’t one day I didn’t do it. I went to the city every single day to pursue my dream. New York traffic is bad but I’d rather be in my car, listening to music or with my friends and chilling rather than on that crazy MTA. I’m not an Uber guy unless I’m going to the airport. In New York, I’m driving. I know where you are. I’ll pull up, pick you up. Let’s go.
**Can you parallel park?
**I can do everything. I’m the best driver. I should be a NASCAR driver! But drive safely, you know, wear your seatbelt.
What’s the background photo on your phone? The lock screen is a photo of me standing next to a Lamborghini Urus. I want that car. That’s my dream car. It reminds me to work hard. It’s not an ‘I love myself, I’m my screensaver’ thing. The time is there. That’s how many hours I have in the day. That’s how much time I have to work on getting that Lamborghini. Unless they’re reading this and I can be their spokesman, their ambassador, and they can give me one for free.
With thanks to Tiffany & Co.
Photography Mario Sorrenti
Fashion Alastair McKimm
Hair Bob Recine
Make-up Frank B at The Wall Group
Nail technician Honey at Exposure NY using CHANEL
Photography assistance Kotaro Kawashima and Javier Villegas
Digital technician Chad Meyer
Fashion assistance Madison Matusich, Milton Dixon III, Jermaine Daley and Casey Conrad
Tailor Martin Keehn
Hair assistance Kazuhide Katahira
Make-up assistance Elle Haein Kim
Production Katie Fash, Layla Néméjanki and Steve Sutton
Production assistance William Cipos
Casting director Samuel Ellis Scheinman for DMCASTING
All jewellery (worn tghroughout) Tiffany & Co.