The problem is, I tried to cut that interview.
I know, I know, we are in the modern days where articles with too many words scare you and make you run away. I get it, you don’t read long articles. I understand, it takes ten minutes instead of two. So, I tried to cut the article about Donald Brink, but the problem is that everything he said during our Skype chat was too interesting. Deleting some parts would have been a shame, and even though I tried for hours, I just figured out that I could not do that.
Then, brilliant as I am, I had an idea. Let’s just divide the interview in two!
Five minutes right now and another five minutes next week, it’s not much, right?
I let you read, before you run away! You will be able to find the second part of the interview next Monday!
Brink Surfboard is a California based company, where Donald Brink transfers his passion into wooden planks for the world to surf on. This is more than just a board, this is a piece of art. Shaped by hands, Donald is known for his asymmetrical surfboards – yes, the ones that are coming back in style (or they never really left). The process is a bit more complicated than what we think, but while I listened to him, I understood why his company is popular. It isn’t just about the boards and the way they are made. It’s about the man itself, driven by a passion for the sea. You are wrong if you think that buying a surfboard is only about the board.
Credit: Jeff Davis / John John Anderson
Tell us about yourself. Who is behind Brink Surfboard and how did you get into shaping?
When I started surfing, I tried different kinds of boards and started riding a couple of equipment. I was fascinate by how things work in general, so when it came to surfboards, it wasn’t any difference and I notice I wanted to react at how I could change things. It was intriguing to me so I started hanging around the right people that were working boards or fixing them. It was back in Cape Town in South Africa, and that was my introduction: trying to find out what makes a board good or works in a certain way for the right person. I think I just always knew I wanted to shape.
We can call you a Californian by now, but technically you are from Cape Town. How did you found your way to California?
I was actually travelling with a Christian rock band and we were touring. We were in America playing in the East Coast and we came across to California to a friend’s wedding, and I met my wife there. It is kind of a long story, but yea, we based there for a while and it was quite a long time, get to know a lot of people. I finally married my wife, she is from San Clemente, and it has been home ever since.
You are updating your blog quite often, would you say that being close to your present/future customers is important?
I’m putting together little blog posts about how making a wooden surfboard. It’s not so much about ‘’this is how you do it’’, but I think it’s impressing when you can inspire people to do something that they’re going to like. Surfing is an amazing thing, but I feel it can translate to life and design and inspirations and creativity to people beyond just surfers. Surfing is a very creative and special odd and lifestyle and I find it very important to realize that this whole conversation can go beyond than just riding waves or building boards. We often forget that social media is about being social, it’s not just media. I am not trying to make fans or create interested or cooler working boards, this is definitely not my goals. My goal is to make the best boards for the right people, and so, what I learned is, using media and blog and all these stuff is more to have an opportunity to explain the reason behind the thought. Once you do that, you can actually empower what they want to do and what they need. I think that if we all work together we will be better all around. If you give something of value, you will give them a memory and create a difference at the same time. Those customers may never buy anything from you, but they are customers of your thoughts and your inspirations. You can’t put a value on that.
I saw that you have a quite lovely family: one wife and two kids. Do you want to share the passion of shaping with your kids or you rather focus on the love for the ocean first?
I don’t know if my kids will be involved in surfing or shaping, and I don’t care, to be honest. But what I do care about is to be for them who I’m supposed to be. For me, building these surfboards is being true to what I feel right and progression is what I strongly believe in. I wouldn’t be modeling them to what they’re supposed to. What they’re supposed to do - we’ll help them figure that out and we will support them in that. Once you figured out who you are and what you are going to do, and how you’re going to help the world, you start to get comfortable with yourself. When we go to the beach, which we often do, it’s not for the surf, it’s more about being together as a family. For me, I stay true to what I do because I feel like my kid will absorb that. I feel like this is more important than just creating a father and son company.
How do you feel when you see what you accomplished and what you are still doing?
It may sound really negative, but I feel more frustrated about the things that I am not doing. I think it just comes with the frustration of a creative person. There are cool things going on, but to be honest, I am living in California, where it’s an expensive place. Because of that, for years and years, I putted everything in this company. Surfboards cost a lot to design and try, and not all the boards work. It’s been an incredible amount of money and boards that failed, and those failures led to things that finally work. The reality of life are real and I’m just trying to pace myself, do the best I can that day and dream about tomorrow. I should probably sit down and celebrate joys more often, but I don’t because these boards are individually made and I gave everything I have in every one of them. It’s such a unique and individual workflow.