Recently I’ve been working with a Portuguese shaper called Nico who did have the guts to change.
Nico has been shaping for over 20 years and during the last 10 was backshaper at one of the biggest surfboard companies in Portugal. While working there he was well-paid and had a good life. It was hard work, for sure, but working at a big company comes with its advantages.
But Nico’s passion for surfboard design and his need to create something other than shortboards and performance longboards was stronger than his need for stability and money. So Nico left the big factory and started out on his own with Wavegliders Surfboards.
It’s not easy to start something new, and doing it alone is even harder. Finding the right premises, building shaping bays and a glassing room, buying resin, glass and tape… there’s a lot to do before you even think about getting your hands on a blank.
And to add to the upheaval Nico decided that, instead of sticking with the range of shortboards he made in the old place, he would go in the opposite direction, following his passion for classic surfboards, shaping classic longboards, singlefin stubbies and fish. Rather than going retro and using proven designs, he incorporates modern performance into those classic lines. A surfboard should be judged on more than just looks, after all.
Probably the most difficult aspect of building a new surfboard label is building a good reputation, getting your name out there and reaching your potential customers. Hand-crafted boards aren’t cheap, and selling through shops isn’t always a good plan because they don’t have the turnover. So Nico began selling his boards directly to customers on the internet, and spread the word about Wavegliders through the blogging community.
As Nico built up his quiver, refined his glassjobs and persevered with his dream, Wavegliders started to gather attention.
Now I guess Nico is at the tipping point – it’s easier to make boards than it is to sell them; it takes a while for the seed to see the sun. Fortunately, Nico’s boards are really good, finely tuned shapes wrapped up in perfect glass. I’m certain that he has a long and successful future ahead, and that he’ll never regret the day he decided to change his life. But even if he fails, the experience will always be part of his life and something that made him a better man.
Is change an option for all of us? Is getting out of the rat race and becoming our own boss the recipe for a better life? There’s no straight answer. For some, the security of a job allows them to live their dream outside of work; others are lucky enough to find a career they love that’s funded by someone else; but to those who have a dream, I say “follow it!” Maybe someday your dreams will become reality.
As for me – I’m working hard to make mine happen.