050 Building a life around surfing in New York City
LOCALS SURF SCHOOL
On today's episode, we're talking to Mike and Mike of Local Surf School.
Longtime supporters of STOKED, Mike and Mike grew up in the Rockaways and have strong roots in the area. A rarity in New York, the surf scene in that area nurtured a deep passion and love for surfing in the Mikes.
THEIR PASSION FOR A SURF SCHOOL
After college, they both wanted to find a way to share their teaching skills and surfing passion. So they started a surf school, the perfect marrying of their surfing passion and career path!
Their initial business goals were to start small, impact the community, touch people's lives, and hopefully not lose money! Soon enough, they hit those goals and started growing.
Knowing that there's no feeling like your first wave, Mike and Mike love that they get to see and share what that first-time feeling is like for other people. For some, this is the feeling they've been looking for, for a long time. The Mikes also believe that surfing can be a way for people to get back in touch with themselves and sometimes discover a passion that they didn't even know that they had. Surf school students have changed their lives and careers just to move to the Rockaways and live a more surf-centered life.
STARTING THE BUSINESS
A degree is not necessarily the same as a step-by-step guide to running a business, and they learned this quickly by having to figure out a lot of things on their own. For example, the simple process of insuring the business involved quite a bit of research and phone calls. Since most insurance agents had never heard of a surf school, they would quote them at ridiculously high prices. Thinking outside the box and knowing they were going to have to be creative, their research led them to an insurance company in Hawaii that actually understood their business model.
Of course, there were also the long days of work put in. As the only teachers, they were both in the water with the students up to 8 hours a day. Exhausted, they would step out of the water at the end of the day and head back into the office to run the administrative side of things. However, no matter how exhausted they got, the ability to reach people and make a difference in their community was worth it.
In the beginning, Locals Surf School didn’t have the money to advertise in the traditional way that bigger companies do. So, they built up their clientele by building up their reputations as good men, good teachers, and great surfers. They continuously strove to bring their customers amazing surf experiences that would bring not only that customer, but their friends back, and their friend’s friends back.
Growing up in this community, Mike and Mike feel like they have every reason to want to give back. Holding free contests, beach cleanups, helping out with charity organizations such as STOKED, and holding kids camps are just some of the ways that they continuously give back to their community.
This year, they’ll be working with the Rockaway Organization to put on events for kids that would like to be involved in competitive surfing. They also plan on joining the “Hands across the sand” group in protest against the William’s Pipeline.
Being involved in the community and impacting lives for the better started as the foundation of Locals Surf School and continues to be their mantra.