Throughout his life Daniel Baroussee has always known what he wanted to do. Like many kids who come of age in the ‘90s, Daniel grew up idolizing athletes he watched compete in the X Games. Watching his heroes land tricks inspired him to save up from a summer’s worth of chores, odd jobs and mowing lawns, to buy his first skateboard.
Skating gave me the complete freedom and confidence to be myself. I didn't care what anyone else thought. All I cared about was skateboarding.
“It’s impossible for me to describe the feeling of what it was like to land my first ollie or my first trick over a feature successfully,” Daniel said. “The best way to describe it, is to describe what skateboarding did for me from that moment moving forward. Skating gave me the complete freedom and confidence to be myself. I didn't care what anyone else thought. All I cared about was skateboarding.”
Daniel grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana - one of the poorest cities in the state. Although it was tough, Daniel attributes his skate style and work ethic to his hometown. He said it was difficult to pursue his craft in the midst of the city’s challenges.
“We’re the only major city in Louisiana without a skatepark,” he said. “Without nice infrastructure or fancy features, we had to get scrappy about the way that we skated. Being in that environment makes you really have to go after what you want.”
Daniel has taken this scrappy mentality with him throughout his life. He quickly made the realization that he wanted to be around skating forever. “I thought to myself: ‘This is all I want to do. I can either do this by going pro with a board directly under my feet, or I can work in the industry and have a board in my hands.’”
In a bid to follow this dream, Daniel began his early career working in sales for some of the top skate brands in the nation. After years of traveling the country and visiting hundreds of skate shops selling apparel, he grew tired and decided to find a new, creative outlet that coincided with his high-travel job.
Daniel's frequent travels and time spent on the road was beginning to take a toll on him, so he decided to build a camper van to create a more comfortable space. Daniel comes from a long family of carpenters and spent much of his time growing up in a wood shop. He quickly learned the value of working for what he wanted, and finding joy in creating something out of nothing.
His woodworking family lived by what they called the “Lafayette Philosophy” - the idea that if you really want something, you should go after it. And so, he put that mentality and his skills to the test.
“Every morning, I’d wake up and get to work on the build, and every night, I’d stay up watching YouTube tutorials or reading books. It was nonstop for me.” As he worked on the van, the hours melted away, just as they did when he was skateboarding. What he had temporarily lost sight of, he regained through this new outlet.
I often have to tell myself when life gets a little crazy and the stress of today’s world starts to get a little heavy, to go back to the mind of that 11-year-old kid. You don’t need to care about what anyone thinks, you just need to do you.
“I often have to tell myself when life gets a little crazy and the stress of today’s world starts to get a little heavy, to go back to the mind of that 11-year-old kid. You don’t need to care about what anyone thinks, you just need to do you.” As soon as he regained that feeling, nothing else could come close to satisfying it. In a leap of faith, he decided to pursue his family’s legacy of woodworking by making it his full time job.
“I love it because of how challenging it is. It takes all your time and present focus to do it - I’m only focused on what’s in front of me. Skateboarding has the same effect. You can only focus on the moment. Not worrying about the past or future is so freeing.”
Four years later, Daniel has combined his two passions by founding Barousse Works, a company dedicated to reusing old skateboard decks and turning them into one-of-a-kind pieces of art. His company turns the wood that was once a skateboard into a unique art piece, giving the skateboard a new, sustainable life. As Daniel reflects on his career and love for skateboarding, he’s inspired to give back to the community and sport that gave him so much.
“This feeling of confidence, purpose and passion that skateboarding has given me, I’m extremely grateful for. Now that I’ve gotten a bit older, all I want to do is give that same feeling to even just one kid.”
To accomplish this, Daniel looked to long distance cycling to fundraise money to buy skateboards for underprivileged kids. Days before he left to compete in Red Bull Terminal Takeover, he took a five-day, 475 mile ride from Rukus Skate Shop in Lafayette, LA to Relief Skate Supply in Panama City, FL. Over the course of the ride he raised a total of $5,000 and gave away 150 completed skateboards.
Daniel won’t stop there. As he continues to set his sights on giving back to the skate community, he’s planned his next long distance ride across the state of Texas in October. He’ll be making the journey across the state to hit six different skate shops, and has a goal to give away 1,000 skateboards.
“I’ve got no plans of stopping. I just want to continue to find creative ways to keep giving kids skateboards.”
Through both his professional craft and community-driven spirit, Daniel continues to carry on the “Lafayette Philosophy,” going after what’s important to him with everything he has to give. While the outlets of his creativity may have evolved over the years, skateboarding is the north star that has always seen him through, and created cohesion in his endeavors. His addiction to progress and delight in the inspiration, those hallmarks of a native skateboarder, remain unwavering.