“Good design costs nothing” or so the saying goes. It only includes creative thinking, and some designers time right? But don’t forget it includes material samples, prototype production, testing, reviewing, revision of design, new prototypes, new tests and reviews.
In reality, design never stops - no sooner is design frozen on one batch of boards, we're already working on customer suggestions and testing new materials. And because good design costs money, the big brands typically focus their design and innovation on top shelf high performance products with the biggest margins. Not the products that most people want or need.
We know that most people don’t aspire to be Laird Hamilton or Kai Lenny. No more than the average driver aspires to be Lewis Hamilton, or the average baker aspires to be Mary Berry.
And we know that for most people, purchasing a SUP is a very big deal.
So we design our kit with the most advanced features possible for the price. We’re not about upsells or yearly upgrades. We want you to buy your SUP package from us, be proud of it, be pleased you’ve made the right choice, and not need to come back to us for many years.
For that reason we don’t have cheap, standard and elite ranges and lots of different colours. We have just one range of products that offer the very best quality at the very best price.
New products normally start with a frustration, a lightbulb moment or an idea from a friend or customer. Typically they start with an idea for a shape of a blade or board. And they always start with a sketch.
We then take these sketches to our small network of suppliers. Although there are more than 30 iSUP manufacturers in South East Asia and hundreds of paddle manufacturers, there are only a very small number who meet our exacting QA, environment and worker welfare requirements, who share our passion in innovation and improvement, and who have the patience to work with us to constantly modify, tinker with and improve our products.
Sometimes our sketch is impossible with current materials and techniques, and then it’s back to the drawing board to tweak and tinker with the original sketch to make something that works.
Then it’s time for some computer work; 3D design and computer testing of that design and fin placement for example, And at the same time starting to think about other parts of the package. Do we really need to reinvent the wheel by redesigning a pump, or are off the shelf ones fit for purpose? Fin composition - flexi or rigid? What about the bag? We're constantly looking for ways we can improve the form and function of every component of our products.
Once the blueprint is finalised we agree it with our suppliers, and have an agonising and frustrating wait for the prototypes to arrive. Sometimes the design has to change during the prototype manufacturing phase if it becomes apparent that something doesn’t quite work, and we’ll work with our supplier to revise the final prototype design.
Once the initial prototype is in our hands, the testing begins. We test everything ourselves first (well why shouldn’t we!). Once we’re happy that it meets our exacting standards then some of our partners and friends of the brand put the kit through its paces.
If we’ve done our homework right, and our design is as good as we thought it was, then the next stage is just a few small tweaks of the design, accessories or styling. But if we need to go back to drawing board we will do so.
The final stage is then full production, and an agonising wait whilst the kit is manufactured and shipped to our UK store.
The whole process for a new design takes a minimum of 4 months, and can take up to 8 months to complete.
And that’s how an idea become reality.