Jubilat Collins — Art Director

 

 
 

Describe your path to what you’re doing now. 

I grew up in Australia and started surfing when I was four years old. I had a passion for it immediately. My mom took my siblings and I camping on the beach all the time, and we watched the surfers, so it was natural for us to want to learn how to surf.

When I was about 15 years old, I snapped my surfboard. I had been taking woodworking and metalworking classes at school, so I thought, “The cheapest way to get a new board is to build it myself.” I decided that the best path to learn how to do that was by getting hands-on experience at a surfboard factory in Mona Vale during my school holiday.

The first experiences I had at the factory involved doing tasks like sweeping the floors and cleaning the toilets—basically, all the worst jobs. When Rod, the guy in charge, found out that I was supposed to be on holiday, he felt so guilty that he decided to show me how to shape boards. He and I made a board together, and it was so much fun: I shaped one side of the board and he shaped the other. It definitely wasn’t the best board I’ve ever made, but I loved it to death and used it as long as I could.

After that experience at the surfboard factory, I was fully hooked. I began making my own boards and discovered that shaping combined several passions of mine: design, working with my hands, and surfing. I continued making boards and eventually convinced my best mate to buy a board from me, even though I still had no idea what I was doing. (laughing) Everything began to grow from there. I gave boards to kids at parties, shaped boards for my teachers, and did all of my school assignments on surfboards. In my head, I started building this dream of being an amazing surfboard designer. Over time, I honed my skills and learned new techniques, eventually reaching a point where I was making between 100 and 150 boards a year. I had a little business going, and I even created a hand-drawn “HS” logo for it. I essentially formed all the basics of the Haydenshapes brand while I was in high school.

“It’s incredible to me that I still get to do what I started out loving at 15, and that I still enjoy doing it. I’m 33, and I’ve been doing this about 18 years now, so I have at least another 20 or 30 years to add to this story.”

Wow. Yeah. After I graduated high school, my parents wanted me to go to university and take the normal career path that most kids are expected to go down these days. But that didn’t make sense to me. I wanted to keep making surfboards and start formalizing my business. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but it mattered to me, and it’s important to me to always remember that. Whenever I think about growing my brand now, I want to make sure I stay true to the original dream I had when I was 15. I’ve learned that if I keep going after that initial vision, everything else falls into place.

For a while, I was shaping, landing gigs, and going on surf trips for months at a time. I was running a business without any formal structure or overhead because I worked out of someone else’s premises. When I was 22, I bought my own factory so that I could have better control over how my boards were manufactured. That also meant I had to employ a staff, train them, manage the factory, and maintain the quality of my designs. My approach has always been to start with a vision and figure out the details along the way, so it was a huge learning process. I had a little showroom to run, money to manage, emails to answer, and a website to keep up to date. I wasn’t out surfing my ass off all day—I worked seven days a week for three years to make it happen.

“It’s incredible to me that I still get to do what I started out loving at 15, and that I still enjoy doing it. I’m 33, and I’ve been doing this about 18 years now, so I have at least another 20 or 30 years to add to this story.”

 

“After I graduated high school, my parents wanted me to go to university and take the normal career path that most kids are expected to go down…But that didn’t make sense to me. I wanted to keep making surfboards and start formalizing my business.”

 

“One of the best aspects of running your own business is that there are no boundaries for where you can go: it’s completely up to you.”

A lot of surfboard shapers don’t want the commitments, overhead, and formalities that come with owning a business. They like having freedom, but I actually enjoy handling the business side of things. I find it challenging, and I enjoy the hard work that comes with it. Luckily, all my hard work paid off, literally—I paid off the factory within a year and a half. And it became more manageable once I had three or four staff members to help me run the business. Everything was humming along.

After some time, I became bored. I realized that shaping wasn’t all I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to spend every single day doing the same thing over and over. So I started thinking of ways I could evolve my brand. I knew my product wasn’t going to be bought by every person, but maybe it could be bought by every company? I thought about the sound technology brand, Dolby Digital. I remembered seeing Dolby Digital on the front of my stereo system growing up. It was on every single brand of home theater system. Why not market my surfboard technology in the same way?

I wanted to make something that every surfer in the world could ride. That’s how I came up with the idea for the FutureFlex technology and black carbon rails that our brand is now synonymous with. I created a surfboard structure made from a high-density expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam with a parabolic carbon fiber frame: the result is a lighter, faster board that can handle a wider variety of wave conditions because it flexes with the movement of the water rather than twisting against it.

Surfers talk about having a “quiver,” which is a set of boards you take with you to ride all types of different waves. FutureFlex technology and carbon rails have enabled surfboards like ourHypto Krypto model to handle everything from poor, knee-high conditions to some of the best waves in the world, essentially making it a one-board quiver. After numerous rounds of testing, I applied for a design patent in 2007, brought FutureFlex to market, and licensed the technology to major surfboard companies around the world. I was about 27 years old when I applied for the patent, and it was an incredibly important direction for me to take. Today, our boards are carried in about 70 countries. We’ve recently been awarded Surfboard of the Yeartwo years in a row by the Australian Surf Industry and have been recognized for the same vision I’ve had since I was a kid.

It’s incredible to me that I still get to do what I started out loving at 15, and that I still enjoy doing it. I’m 33, and I’ve been doing this about 18 years now, so I have at least another 20 or 30 years to add to this story. I’m so glad I didn’t conform to my mom’s wish for me to go off to university and become an accountant.(laughing)

I think she’s probably alright with everything you’re doing now.

Oh, yeah. She has realized that, at the end of the day, if I’m passionate about something, I’m going to go do it. I’m keeping busy, and I get to create for a living. Now I’m lucky that my wife, Danielle, is on this journey with me as well. She and I are able to work on business projects together and get to do something that we’re both passionate about.

One of the best aspects of running your own business is that there are no boundaries for where you can go: it’s completely up to you. You have the freedom go after what you want, and if you’re passionate and dedicated, then you’ll generally end up being successful. It takes a lot of hard work, but if you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll enjoy the journey.

Was creativity part of your childhood? 

My dad comes from an engineering background and did a lot of work around the house, and my mom worked as a project manager for new home construction. It’s in my nature to want to build things. I wouldn’t say I was artistic in terms of painting or other traditional forms of art, though: I was more interested in design, the scientific and mathematical aspects of it, and analyzing how things worked together.

Surfboard shaping combines art and science. It’s sometimes hard to analyze because there are so many different variables to consider. It’s not like you can put a surfboard on a machine and say, “This is how it’ll work in the water,” because every wave is different, and every surfer is a different shape and size. But youcan break down components of it and try to control as many variables as possible. For instance, using one type of resin might lead to a very different result compared to another. The fun part is that you get to go out and test it—not that I get to do that all the time, but it’s still part of the job description.

Haydenshapes X Jason Woodside

It sounds like there’s quite a bit of physics and engineering involved. Have you had formal training? 

Four years after I graduated high school, and about a year after I bought my factory, I attended university because my mom was still trying to convince me to pursue accounting. (laughing) I didn’t always show up for classes because I wasn’t always interested in the subjects. However, new subjects that I could connect to surfing, like statistics, were interesting to me. I generally find that if I can relate a course of study back to something I’m interested in, I love learning about it.

After about a year and a half of university, I didn’t have any more interest, so I stopped going. Aside from that, I haven’t had any formal training in what I do. But being self-taught doesn’t mean I’ve taught myself everything. I’ve learned a lot about running a business and shaping surfboards from other people both inside and outside of this industry. You can learn from so many things and people around you, directly and indirectly. If you have an open mind and stay receptive to what’s around you, you’ll be better for it.

 

“I wanted to make something that every surfer in the world could ride. That's how I came up with the idea for the FutureFlex technology and black carbon rails that our brand is now synonymous with."