Most of us associate surfing with blue skies, palm trees, and holiday destinations like Hawaii.
But within the surf community itself, happiness is not always in the air and negativity can be more prominent than you’d think.
This was something that Erin Champ and Josh Hallmark, two keen surfers from sunny San Diego, set out to change.
I’m having the best time with Surf Happy
A couple of years ago, while we were in college, Josh and I toyed around with an idea of setting up our own little store. But life happened and it wasn’t until 8 months ago that we turned this idea into reality.
We started selling t-shirts to close friends and family, wanting to spread the positivity and the happy vibes to our surfing community.
At first, it was all very small-scale. We would personally hand out the t-shirts to those friends and family who wanted to support us.
However, a few months ago we got to the point where we realized that we would need to set up an online store to cope with the demand, which was increasing.
Wow, they actually love the product
We didn’t start selling our t-shirts to make a profit. We just wanted to break even: our goal was to spread the word and the happy feelings more than anything.
So, we got in touch with a local print company and got a small batch of t-shirts done with our logo. And we sold out immediately.
Encouraged by this, we got a second t-shirt design done and printed, and that one sold out straight away too.
From those two ‘sold out’ experiences, one particular moment has stayed with me.
It was just a normal day in my day job office and I had taken a couple of shirts with me for a few co-workers. Everyone was being so supportive, saying how they all wanted one. When I was down to my final shirt, two friends ended up having a friendly argument over who’d get to buy it.
I just remember feeling really blown away and thinking to myself that these people aren’t just supporting us anymore as their friends. They actually enjoy the shirts and want to have one.
That was a big testament for us being successful and also realizing we were building something special.
It wasn’t just friends supporting friends anymore, but other people really taking our message and wanting to sport our apparel, too.
After this, we decided to try out setting up our own online store.
We got in touch with our printers and put in two batches of the two original shirts, created two brand new designs, and started looking for a way to build a website.
Zyro was affordable and had all the features we needed
We did lots of research on website builders and stumbled across Zyro in the process.
I’d never heard of it before. We compared Zyro with Squarespace and noticed that Zyro offered some very clean-looking templates, which was the look we wanted to go with.
And, ultimately, the pricing for an eCommerce plan was more affordable with Zyro, so we decided to give it a go.
We were positively surprised: the eCommerce plan was perfect for us. It had everything we needed and more.
Not only was it really easy to customize the template to make our shop look our own, but the whole business side of things was also covered with the plan.
I had never run a business before, so working behind the scenes was all new to me.
But it turned out to be much easier than we thought. Adding new products, toggling the prices, shipping details and coupons was so easy.
I can really tell they want to help
So far we’ve not had any problems, either. There have been a couple of times when I’ve had some questions about the platform.
The live chat support has been great, I’ve always got responses immediately. The biggest thing that has really struck me has been how personal the support is.
I can really tell I’m talking to a real person, not a computer. And they really want to help me and succeed, every time.
Meanwhile, I think that larger and more well-known platforms may not have such a personal connection to their customers.
Just go for it
We’re still pretty small and able to manage the whole business by ourselves.
It’s important for us to keep things personal with our customers – our brand is built on this friend-to-friend mentality. We want to make sure that we notice everyone who buys from us.
We are hoping to eventually expand our apparel line to accessories like beanies and hats, maybe even hoodies or jackets, if it makes sense financially.
For anyone out there hesitating to start their online store, just go for it.
Take it from us: it’s really easy and not expensive too.
Give it your 100%, because you’re able to start something small and dip your toes in the water without much risk.
Once you get an idea of whether people are interested in your product, you can decide whether you want to grow your business or not.
Running an online store isn’t expensive, and you can usually give it a go for a month or two and then pivot if it’s not working out.
And the best thing is that with platforms like Zyro, you’ll really look like you know what you’re doing, too.