When I ran into the San Diego, CA based and surf inspired band Switchfoot in Salt Lake City last October, I left with contact information and they left with heads covered and arms loaded with HB prototypes. Simple enough, we were set to be a part of the 9th Annual Switchfoot Bro-Am held in Encinitas, CA in July, 2013.
Since we’re building a brand inspired by the action sports community, music and giving back to build society, this happened to be a perfect opportunity to work with a grammy winning rock act who walk a parallel path. The mix of surfing, live music on the beach and the chance to give towards the future of so many SoCal youth would be a tight knit fit with who we are as a brand. The work to be done would be at their 9th Annual Bro-Am, a surf competition and music festival benefiting “Stand Up for Kids” – an organization for giving hope to and empowering homeless youth. This event features the likes of professional surfer and all around positive role model Rob Machado, staple surf brand Hurley, numerous bands, and of course a headlining performance by Switchfoot.
Easier said then done… It wasn’t until front man, Jon Foreman, noticed our wood surf board labeled headwear back in October (a sign and tribute to where the industry started), that the doors opened to to talk our parallel paths. Turns out that Jon has apprenticed and been building wood surf boards himself and is an avid fan of the craftsmanship and history of all things surf. Bassist and brother of Jon, Tim Foreman also said the band had gone headwear shopping earlier in the first cold rainy day of our fall season, but to no avail. These hats were the unique style and passion based product no where to be found on their shopping adventure. Hurdle # 1, cleared.
Fast Forward… Following months of trial and error, high and low points, and an insane amount of work, (more below), we are in Carlsbad, CA with our hand made hollow wood surf board in which we donated to the benefit auction in the name of Heart Beat Faster. Regardless of of the make-shift auction spot in the woods, and a slow start to the silent auction bidding, our custom wood surf board was the top selling item in the silent auction. Jon and Tim Foreman were both stoked to see us there, both said our hats were a hit and favorite to wear, and both thoroughly enjoyed the craftsmanship and finish of the custom wood board. I was finally, after 3 weeks of high stress, able to relax and enjoy the weekend, the California weather and engage with our many new friends. The night proceeded with a live auction, amazing food, a sneak at the new documentary Fading West and an intimate acoustic set from the band.
Saturday, July 13th, held the main event, the Bro-Am surf competition featuring age under 16 surfers, team sponsored surf competition and the crowd favorite “surf jousting”. Title sponsor “Hurley” took charge both as event promoters but also as their sponsored team won the overall title, edging out Rob Machado and the band Switchfoot. Since the surf competition, concert, beach vending etc all took place right on Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, CA, we had no shortage of people to talk to about the auction night, Heart Beat Faster’s mission and product. All seemed excited about this new passion influenced brand from Salt Lake rummaging through this surf event. We made new friends in the likes of band members, “The Bachelor” contestants, vendors like SurfRide, Natural High, Christian Surfers, and numerous people in between.
Taking the stage after other performances over the day including the “Prince of Hawaii”, big wave surfer Makua Rothman’s Hawaiian electric ukelele set, headlining the day was, of course, a live performance by Switchfoot. Estimates of a record breaking attendance of 10,000 people filled the beach to hear ever so popular songs from the native SoCal band. Running on caffeine and endorphins, we couldn’t help but smile and high five friends and strangers over the turnout of the show, the wood surf board, the connections, and especially bassist Tim Foreman wearing our cuffed “Radventure Woody Beanie” during the concert.
The smooth running weekend would almost make a guy forget the pain in making this happen… Almost… Let’s go back.
Hurdle # 2. I had contact info from this run-in with the band mid-October, however, I still needed to get in contact with the contact. Connection by phone and email proved difficult and after months of trying, once I touched base, I had to prove that a fresh Salt Lake City company, founded by bike and ski enthusiasts, had the nerve to engage a Southern California surf event. What is our plan? What is our purpose? Salt Lake City, UT? High Desert coming to the beach?
Hurdle # 3. How would we be a part of this? Easy. Set up a tent and sell tons of hats. We have a unique look, passion, the only wood surfboard labels out there, direct parallel to this event and the people attending… We’ll do fine, right? All sounded good until sponsor changes over took who would be vending, shuffling the new guys out… New guys meaning us. This left me with 6 weeks to go back to the drawing board, write down an objective for what we wanted out of the event, come up with a plan to demonstrate who we are as a brand while giving back to society… and execute.
Hurdle # 4. 3 weeks have passed and I have 3 weeks left to prepare. At this point, anything I can do to be a part of this event will suffice, however, I still have a go big or go home mentality. To play off of our wood surf board labels, and use my construction history, I’ll just build a hollow wood surf board to donate at the auction. These are unique, highly desired and hopefully will raise significant funds towards Stand Up For Kids. These are unique and desired due to the time and skill to build, which I had, granted I average a solid 3-4 hours of sleep per night…
Hurdle # … Days are a blur, haven’t slept much at all, and I no longer care what hurdle this is. This is the last week leading up to our trip from Salt Lake to Carlsbad, CA. The board is coming together but it has been a trial and test of patient endurance. 2 days before leaving the weather changed from intense dry heat to wet and humid. Meaning what was drying dangerously fast with glue and fiberglass was now drying at 1/3 the pace and the last layers were not curing as quickly as needed. Thursday the 11th of July was our departure date and after staying up most of the last night with the project, we had to load the board into the vehicle with wet resin, needing another sand, another finish coat, finish sand and some minor detailing. With a late start on the drive, we (miracle worker Kevin and I), pulled into my brother’s place in Burbank, CA around 9 pm, greeted and immediately went back to work. Another 3-4 hours of work and the sanding and next coat were done, leaving the finish sanding and detailing for the next morning… just after the 5am wake up and drive to Carlsbad, CA. No big deal, right? Sanding was not easy, we found some low spots needing leveled (more epoxy), and the vent and leash plugs were less than thrilled getting installed. All of this to finish at 4:40pm with the auction cut off time for goods being 5pm. Just enough time for a shower and drive to drop it off at the last minute. Finally an end to the beginning.
I had time to reflect on the whirlwind of events on our 12 drive home and my thought process drifted towards the effort and benefit of it all. Was it worth it? Would I do it again? Ultimately it cost me a good amount of money and a great amount of time with no guarantee of a return on investment. Ironically, pouring in the blood, sweat and tears comes more natural to me than dress up business meetings or sales. Because this is all about a cause, product and event I am excited about, it really didn’t feel like work. It was the highest stress fun, I realized I could have. Yes, yes I would do it all over again. Preferably with a preset plan little more time to work with. There is always the 10th Annual Bro-Am 2014 to look forward to!
As it turns out, hanging with the band, sharing what Heart Beat Faster is all about and loading them up with our wood labeled headwear will end up showing off our new brand all over their new documentary/surf/music video titled “Fading West” which shares titles with the new album due out this year. Check out the tour here and make sure to see it for yourself!