Is it a design company? Is it surfboard company? Is it the same thing? Does it matter?
Regardless of your perception of Haydenshapes Surfboards, one thing is clear: no other surfboard company appears to protect and cultivate their brand quite like Haydenshapes.
As they've grown from a small, backyard operation to a global powerhouse, this is a brief look at the product, the growth catalyst and the artful direction that is emerging as a strategic element to the brand.
This is Haydenshapes Surfboards: Boldly Going Where No Surfboard Brand Has Gone Before?
The Spark of Ingenuity
The Haydenshapes surfboards brand developed through the curious and dedicated nature of its founder, Hayden Cox, who is also head shaper / designer of Haydenshapes. In an interview conducted by Tammi Heneveld for The Great Discontent, he described how an unfortunate situation developed into a fortuitous venture.
"When I was about 15 years old, I snapped my surfboard. I had been taking woodworking and metalworking classes at school, so I thought, '...build it myself.' I decided that the best path to learn how to do that was by getting hands-on experience at a surfboard factory in Mona Vale."
After shaping his first board, it became the drive in his life to succeed and push forward down this path, including with him “[doing] all of [his] school assignments on surfboards.” Haydenshapes demonstrates a brand derived a pressing persistence to see improved and innovated designs tested and developed with modern emphasis and technique.
Sporting a unique blend of functional engineering, bold innovation, and sleek style that achieves unseen accomplishment in an otherwise sleepy industry, Hayden has pioneered the use of technology (FutureFlex, formerly known as FiberFlex) to offer something unique. Most surfers you may speak with can remember the time they saw their first FutureFlex surfboard.
His drive and passion form the base on which he shapes all his boards, resulting in consumer friendly designs that now define the brand.
The Rise and Rise of the Haydenshapes Brand
Simply put a good, unique (for the time) product, a key distribution deal (courtesy of GSI) and a clever PR strategy catapulted Haydenshapes surfboards into the mainstream.
From there, the hero product, Haydenshapes Hypto Krypto, has become a global juggernaut. Winning back to back 'Surfboard of the Year 2014’ Awards at the Australian Surf Industry Awards is interesting but ultimately superficial. What matters is the growing horde of everyday surfers who swear the Hypto Krypto is the best board they've ever ridden.
Developing the Boards
Haydenshapes boards use many kinds of technological development in order to achieve the unique performance attributes. One example of this process comes from the Psychedelic Germ board. Built from snowboard designs as reference, this board incorporates side cuts, a design feature on snowboards used to tighten the turning rate, which demonstrates surfing performance characterized as “carving” on the water.
This shows how Haydenshapes looks for inspiration and insight from any source willing to highlight what works and what doesn't.
From wood to foam, surfboards have moved through core designs in attempts to make them more sturdy, buoyant, and adaptable. Haydenshapes relies upon board cores built using carbon fiber and high-density expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam: FutureFlex.
The carbon fiber design results in a core that is more responsive and less prone to material fatigue. The structure of the carbon fiber allows for the energy to move through the board without causing undue stresses in a single location.
Hayden Cox values the FutureFlex technology so highly that he has made it a cornerstone of the business and the brand.
In the interview at The Great Discontent, Hayden describes how “[he] started thinking of ways [he] could evolve [his] brand. [He] knew [his] product wasn’t going to be bought by every person, but maybe it could be bought by every company?” He applied himself to find where his board and its technology would perform the best.
"I wanted to make something that every surfer in the world could ride."
"After numerous rounds of testing, I applied for a design patent in 2007, brought FutureFlex to market, and licensed the technology to major surfboard companies around the world. … [It] was an incredibly important direction for me to take. Today, our boards are carried in about 70 countries."
A businessman at his core, Hayden has a reputation for being a hard nosed perfectionist and a visionary. Typical of the founding entrepreneur, he has been criticised for stereotypically lacking the ability to step back from day-to-day operations.
Some entrepreneur founders outgrow this (Mark Zuckerberg), most hit a wall where they must let go in order to continue to grow.
A New Direction
Another first in a small, judgemental industry is Haydenshapes alignment with artists, non-endemic brands and premium retailers. Collaborations with Alex Wang to produce beautiful, bespoke surfboards, frequent cross pollination with Audi and interviews with mens fashion brand, Saturdays NYC are just a few examples.
Only time will tell if this interesting new direction serves to reinforce or alienate the surfing consumer.