When you think about surfboards you probably don’t think about coffee. However, according to September Surf and Shaper Studios founder and partner Mitch Martin, there are more connections than you may think and that’s the basis for this surfboard and coffee shop combo in Montreal, Canada.'Surfing happens early and so does coffee' Click To Tweet
We sat down with Mitch at his coffee shop and shaping studio to learn more about how his idea was born, where they are today, and where he finds his inspiration and motivation on a daily basis.
Mitch has a history with surfing and grew up around it in Canada. One of his bucket list items was to shape his own board someday. He had several friends who wanted to do the same. In Vancouver, Mitch eventually started to shape his own boards in his garage with his friends. As they spoke to others about the project, they to wanted to shape a board. With that, Learning Curves was created. A space where people could come and learn how to shape their own boards. They charged members $75 to cover the costs of the space, tools and boards.
After an article in The Inertia profiling the project, Shaper Studios out of California reached out to Mitch. The company wanted to expand into Canada and having similar business models asked to partner with Learning Curves. He accepted and with a small cash infusion took the operation out of the garage and into an official studio space.
Fast forward to today, Mitch has now taken the Shaper Studios concept to Montreal where he knew there was a growing surfer community. September Surf, named after the Hurricane Season when surfing can be ideal, offers visitors a place to hangout and be social. Mitch explained, “it’s like a constant party but without the alcohol.” Originally, the shop was more focused on retail, but he saw more of a demand for food and coffee. “Business models have to be able to mutate and change,” noted Martin.'Believe in the idea enough and people will support it' Click To Tweet
When asked what the relationship is between surfing and coffee, Martin explained that surfers notoriously hit the waves very early in the morning a time when coffee is on most people’s minds. Also, when you get out of the surf, especially on the east coast, you’re freezing and coffee is a way to warm up.
When asked what the main theme that kept surfacing when it came to surfing and coffee, Mitch had one simple word: Community. When it came to shaping boards, people inherently brought friends and made friends throughout the process. The same can be found at the coffee shop. He also compared the time that people go to get a coffee as their meditation or tranquility. Similar to how someone may journal in the morning. “I think everyone has some pretty chaotic days and going to get a coffee for 10 or 20 minutes, even an hour, is an opportunity to do something for yourself.”
When it comes to Mitch himself, he fully agrees with taking care of oneself, especially when it comes to owning a business. “I spoke with someone recently who owns a few bars and he made a good point. Your business is a reflection of yourself. So if I don’t take care of myself and I feel like shit, then so will the business.” Mitch says that getting to the gym and exercising helps a lot, while also focusing on some meditation and even journaling. One of the most important things to remember when it comes to caring for yourself? Mitch says it’s being able to turn everything off. When I go to bed, I turn my phone to airplane mode.
With everything, it’s a learning experience when it comes to a new business and trying to balance it with a personal life. So what’s the one thing you should do? “Take it just one day at a time,” he says. “Focus on what’s in front of you, realize you have a choice on how you react to things, and try to stay grounded. When things get stressful, just have a coffee and talk to a friend to destress.”'Focus on what's in front of you and realize you have a choice on how you react to things' Click To Tweet
In continuing on how someone can work to better take care of themselves, Martin also emphasized a process of setting three goals for himself each day. While the goals are less about daily tasks or chores, they are a way to organize his day and have it feel less chaotic. He provided examples of some of those goals, which included being more mindful, staying hydrated and even cleaning his car. “It’s amazing how well you feel just by making sure you’re drinking water and cleaning my car is like an hour process so I need to plan ahead around it.”
In closing, the journey Martin has taken across Canada and combining two businesses many would say don’t belong together is nothing short of amazing. Though stressful and crazy at times, his focus on being healthy, mindful, and inspired has lead him to creating a vibrant and passionate community. So what are the key questions Mitch is asking himself today?
- What are my 3 goals for the day?
- How can I be a better leader?
- Am I staying hydrated?
Images: Marc Champagne