Slyde Handboards design, shape and manufacture Handboards for bodysurfing.
We believe that quality workmanship is key, it is the small details that set our boards apart. All of our Handboards are uniquely designed with the rider in mind. They are made from the same materials as a surfboard, designed and shaped by master shapers, hand-finished and hand-glassed to produce the epic wave riding experience.
In the end, for us it's about the stoke! Watching footage sent to us by riders from all over the world using our boards. Invariably the ending is always the same, an uncontrollable smile from ear to ear. That is what makes all the hard work worth it.
The Initial seed for the company was set many years ago. As kids, we would spend the hot South African days during the summer break, generally making nuisances of ourselves and dreaming up all sorts of "wave riding" apparatuses from fast food trays to the trusty old flip-flop (yes believe it or not you can surf a wave with a shoe). Some I won't go into details for the sake of brevity, but let’s just say the results were anything but favorable, and it I'm sure it would be concerning for any onlooker to see the results of misguided hydro dynamic principles being put to use on a 8-foot wave. It was the lowly food tray that held the throne in our quest for wave riding perfection. Of course, it became our mission to sort the chaff from the wheat. Tray hunting was serious business back in the day and the need for the perfect ride often outweighed the need to not be chased down the beach by flailing armed restaurant staff. In hindsight, what better way to spend a day than perfecting wave-riding machines! The lift and extra speed these improvised Handboards provided were the driving forces that inspired a line of boards to enhance the bodysurfing experience for everyone.
What are the key factors that have helped your store be successful?
I have always believed in doing something I was passionate about, something that I wanted to get out a of bed every day to do. Even though it has never been easier to start your own business, it still takes an incredible amount of a work and long hours. So find something you love to do or find what drives you and will keep driving you to make it a success. Also, do not be afraid to fail! It will happen and as I've found out, I learnt more from myself and the business through our failures than I did through the successes. No just means come back swinging harder.
My entire life has been early market research I have been a surfer and part of the industry and lifestyle since before I can remember. I guess you can say I've done 36 years of market research. It's not an essential key to a successful business but it does help that you are immersed in the lifestyle of it especially something like the surf industry. Our market Strategy has always been to create a brand I saw the opening for a bodysurfing centric brand for some time. I did it, all my friends did it and any surfer worth his/her salt has at some point spent an afternoon bodysurfing, not to mention the amount of non surfers who's first introduction to riding a wave was on their belly bodysurfing. What was lacking was a brand expression of that stoke!
Since we started we have been selling solely online, aligning our brand with a network of surf, design and lifestyle blogs and websites like The LA times, Thrilllist and Yanko design . Through the traffic and interest in the products and the brand, it has generated attention from wholesalers and distributors in overseas markets and has allowed us to start the process of worldwide distribution. We found we were losing a lot of orders because of the cost of deliveries to overseas destinations like Brazil Australia and the UK. With dedicated distribution channels for those countries, we are set to possibly out do our American sales. This has all been made possible through the website.
I have personally had to start taking a more management role than hands on type role. I am a Designer by trade and my first inclination is to do it myself. That was important in the beginning of the company, but as you grow you have to allocate jobs and it impossible for you to do everything yourself, trust those you have surrounded yourself and the business to do the job as well and sometimes better than you can.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
If you have been putting it off, don't! you will always be able to find an excuse to not start just go for it. "Build it and they will come" To quote field of dreams, honestly for me there was no better advice. The entry barriers to starting your own business are so low these days with the internet and companies like Shopify that make building a beautiful store and more importantly a brand. Chances are if you don't do it somebody else will.
Any Closing Remarks?
Shopify has more than doubled our sales. As I said my formal training was as a designer so that naturally makes me very aware of the design side of the platform I chose. There is nothing out there near the ability to create the beauty and branding that Shopify can. As an online business the first interaction your customer has with your brand is your site and Its usability fail at that and you will loose the sale.