Matt Bear: Founder and Shaper of BearBones Surfco
Bersama Kita Series ep.2
A series focused on interviewing a range of creatives, from designers to multi talents and fun personalities all working hard for something they love. We have titled this series 'Bersama Kita' ~ together we are... together we are powerful.. together we can make an impact.
My hope is that these creatives inspire and encourage you to take that leap and get your hands dirty. To know that no matter what stage of life you're in ~ if you have a dream, a purpose, a goal, you CAN achieve it.
I have the honour of interviewing our talented friend Matt Bear today on our Bersama Kita ~ together we are, series. We've been lucky enough to team up with Matt during our launch of Saltysea, featuring his boards throughout our photoshoots and social content. Our friendship then formed into something greater and we teamed up for New Zealand Fashion Week 2018 this past month, featuring his works of art alongside our models down the catwalk. We've come to know Matt, and he is the kindest, most talented guy we've had the opportunity to work with! His eye for detail, and his care for his environmental impact really makes him something special.
Stephanie: Can you tell us what inspired you to create BearBones Surfco?
Matt: I had been playing around with restoring/re-purposing old surfboards and shaping/glassing my own creations while busting my butt labouring for a landscaping company. I have always enjoyed creating things with my hands and have a deep respect for nature and our environment. It was after a pretty serious TC (tropical cyclone) swell, I dropped into a wave, mistimed a bottom turn and was caught then squashed by a thick lip. Long story short, I blew out a disc at the base of my spine, blocked a nerve canal and ended up needing emergency surgery. Post operation I had time to rethink what was important to me and what I wanted in life. With the help of close friends and support from my fiance, I made the decision to focus all of my energy into creating BearBones Surfco with the main goal of building boards for people that we less harmful to the environment than the traditional construction method.
Stephanie: You definitely inspire a lot of people with your work, can you elaborate on the transformation you've seen from your first ever board to your most recent board?
Matt: Ha my first board/s are hilarious, I still have them. I remember making them on a fold out trestle table in a gazebo, I only had a small handsaw, basic planer and a small sanding block and some sand paper...Where there's a will there's a way right? Comparing them to latest boards my skill set has improved greatly. When it comes to handing over a board to a customer, I am super fussy about small details that the general public may not be aware of. I think its also important to mention there is still a long way to go to master the craft. I'm well aware of my strengths and weaknesses and feel it would be foolish to make any claims of being the best. I do put my heart and soul into every step of every board which I believe is reflected in the attention to detail and craftsmanship in each finished board.
Stephanie: What is it about your particular style that makes such an impact on the way you design and shape surf boards?
Matt: For me building boards is an art form. From the beginning it has been about creating boards that are aesthetically pleasing and functional. I am all about the tradition of hand shaping. I find something so special about building a custom board using only my hands and basic tools. Yes it takes time and focus but this to me is where the value is. It feels like these days everyone is looking for shortcuts, using technology and computers to speed up production, pump out as many boards as possible...where is the love in this madness? I think this probably reflects our society as a whole, it is when I step into my little shaping bay each morning, close the door to the over hyped world, my soul finds peace, time becomes irrelevant am I am able to access that happiness that comes with creativity.
Stephanie: You've recently collaborated with us for New Zealand Fashion Week 2018 - sending your custom boards down the runway, what did this feel like for you?
Matt: Oh Man, what a rush, what an experience... you know we were there to support Saltysea - that felt really good. The feelings of camaraderie, to be surrounded by everyone in a similar mindset and a common goal, to all be on the same team, that was the best feeling!
Stephanie: We see you've been working with some eco materials such as flax fibres, what's your inspiration behind this? Are you introducing more sustainability into the surf industry? Has this changed the way you approach your designs at all?
Matt: Im always on the hunt for different materials to incorporate into the boards. I strictly use bio content epoxy resins and often prefer to incorporate basalt tapes and plant based materials. Flax fibre is nothing new and Im definitely not the first to use it, but I have found through experimenting with different laminating techniques, it is possible to achieve pretty interesting flex and strength characteristics. I also think it looks unique and naturally beautiful. I'm in the opinion that sustainability and an ecological approach to board building is becoming more common place which is great! If I can have a hand in growing the demand for eco builds that yield a lower carbon footprint than that of the big brands that has to be a step in the right direction.
Stephanie: Being creative takes a lot of energy, how do you stay balanced with work, family, business and time for yourself? Do you have any rituals or routines you practice?
Matt: I would love to be able to say I have a really balanced life, but truth be told I am constantly 'working.' It comes in waves and everyone always wants their boards done as fast as possible. I am super lucky as I very rarely feel like my work is actual work. Being a one man band the jobs I do are always changing - shaping, glassing, sanding, PR, sales, social media, customer service. You name it and I'll put that hat on! I love it all though, I am never board (pun intended *bored).
I will say if it wasn't for my friends coming over and sharing a beer and my beautiful fiance keeping me well fed, caffeinated and supported, I may have turned into a recluse haha.
Stephanie: What's it like being the face behind BearBones SurfCo? Any advice for those looking to branch out on their own?
Matt: That's an interesting one, The reason behind creating a brand name rather than using my personal name, e.g. Matt Bear Surf Craft or something, was to take the emphasis off me and onto the boards, I have since learned that when it comes to doing business it is as much about the person as it is the product (at least in the beginning). It's a scary feeling putting your all into creating something then having it on show for the world to make judgements on. Be it positive or negative, its a trip not taking things personally. However having that personal touch is probably what makes the difference between a good business and a great one. My advice to anyone looking to go out on their own would be. to go all in, live and breathe it, as you will be so invested in it, it's important you love it.
Stephanie: Ok! We have to ask, which of your boards is your favourite? and why?
Matt: Hmmm, every time I finish a new board I want to keep it. I always have a lot of ideas pouring out of my head, so typically the latest board is my favourite. I am particularly proud of the two boards that went down the runway at New Zealand Fashion Week. I had a moment last swell where I couldn't resist and waxed up the flax pintwin. It was a lot of fun!
To learn more about Matt and BearBones SurfCo visit him on:
His website: www.bearbonessurf.co.nz
Follow along on our blog series 'Bersama Kita' together we are, each week to learn about their inspiration, history, process, struggles and advice.
If you are interested in being featured on our blog, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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