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People first…


Friendships and great people have been more instrumental in Almond’s success and survival than any single thing that I can point to.  I’ve been reading Austin Kleon’s work a bit more recently, and he talks about debunking the myth of the lone genius who disappears into his lab, to emerge with a grand masterpiece.  It’s not how creativity works, it’s not how things get done. Almond’s story, like most stories, is one of community and collaboration.  As I think back, every major milestone was the result of relationships.  I met Griffin through Kyle Lightner, and I didn’t even really know Kyle back then, but we were emailing and chatting about shared perspective on the state of surf in 2008.  Lightner came to my parent’s house (which was the Almond HQ before we opened the little shop on Old Newport Blvd) and happened to bring this funny kid Griffin with him.  Fast forward to 2009, Takashi and Junko wanted to do a feature in Blue Magazine on Lightner’s work, and they asked him what the subject matter should be.  Lightner responded enthusiastically “Do it about my friend Dave and Almond!” just like that, we had an 8-page article in a reputable Japanese surf magazine.  The article attracted the attention of our now good friend and Japanese distributor, Tomohiro Soeda.  Fast forward to 2010, Stefan Jeremias was headed to France to visit his friend Pierre Gascogne, who happened to be a surfboard distributor in France, and Stefan asked if he could borrow a few boards and sell them in France, at the end of his trip. Turns out the boards were well-received, and Pierre liked what he saw, just like that we had a distributor in France.  No amount of emailing Pierre catalogs could replace Stefan showing up with boards, and Stefan had nothing to gain, other than connecting two friends and getting to ride two new boards for a couple weeks.  I met our apparel director, Chad Cress, through my friend Trevor Gray, who I met at our old shop, sitting on the bench out front eating pizza.  I met Cameron Oden because he was the first customer to order a surfboard when the Almond shop first opened in March 2009, and he offered to shoot surfing if we ever needed a photographer.  Cam now does photography, video editing, graphic design, screen-printing, fixture-building, surfboard scheming, product photography, and anything else visual you could imaging, for Almond.  I met Cyrus Sutton because he called the shop one day to pitch a little video concept he had for his yet-to-be-formed Korduroy TV.  I met Andy Nieblas through Nathan Adams, who I met because Christian Wach was looking to help us find a great team rider in the early days of Almond.  We met Mac and Katherine from Northern Grade through the Partons from Apolis, who Chad knew previously.  We met Davide Berruto because Mark Wiesmayr was pumped on Shelter Half, and wanted to introduce us to Davide.  We got our start at Waterman’s Guild because Griffin was still working for Bruce Jones, and Griffin got dragged up there, so we were forced to make a change that ended up being a huge positive for us.  I have learned so much about building surfboards from Greg Martz, and the Waterman’s guys.  I could re-trace our entire lineage, and it’s all based around people.  The story of Almond Surfboards is a story of friendships among like-minded people and enthusiasm for creating things that excite.  The best part about having a retail store is the simplicity of an open door through which anyone could walk.  I can’t tell you how many fascinating people I have met in the store. Despite all of that, keeping up with people has been one of the most difficult things recently.  Somewhere along the way, email inboxes and spreadsheets and delivery dates and  instagram-likes have crept their way to the forefront.  The noise of which has increasingly drown out the people and friendships and things that make this career choice rich and full of life.  Sometimes the things that feel productive aren’t the biggest priorities, and the things that feel off-task are the most valuable.  I’m really going to try to limit the number of times I compulsively reach for my phone or refresh my email inbox.  Because the more times I check my email throughout the day inevitably results in more emails that I forget to respond to.  My small piece of advice: value relationships and conversation, and don’t be too busy for the people who make you thrive.  And lastly, thank you to all the people who make Almond Surfboards possible. -Dave Allee

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