Tonight we’re offering amazingly cool surfing gear from RAREFORM, a California company that is dedicated to saving the beauty of our planet while helping help its customers enjoy it. Jordan Shavarebi investigates the story behind the brand.
If you’ve ever thought about trading in your business suit for a wet suit, this eco-friendly surfer dude fairytale might be of major interest to you. The surfer dude is one Alec Avedissian, and the fairytale begins as most fairytales do: With a discontented protagonist in a somewhat oppressive place.
Alec worked in investment banking and renewable energy, but had a tsunami-sized urge to go on a six-month surf trip through South America with his buddies. So that’s exactly what he did. He divided his time up between surfing perfect breaks and consulting with rural businesses in El Salvador. The place was beautiful, but the lakes and rivers were dangerously polluted and the beaches were littered with trash.
As if visited by an environmentally conscious Fairy Godmother, he had a revelation. He decided he wanted to reduce the waste in the world and sustain the mountains, rivers, and oceans that he loved so dearly. A friend told him that billboards could be recycled and turned into bags. This is when the fairytale gets good.
In 2012, Alec recruited a handful of friends and business partners and founded RAREFORM. They began intercepting billboards before they reached landfills and transforming them into unique, eco-friendly bags for surfboards, paddles, and wetsuits. It’s a modern day pumpkin-to-carriage miracle. Bippity-boppity-cool.
Each product is manufactured in California. 1% of each sale is donated to an organization that’s dedicated to saving the planet. And Alec got his fairytale ending: A company with a heart for the planet and an eye on the waves.
We’re totally obsessed with every sustainable, stylish, one-of-a-kind bag from RAREFORM, so naturally, we wanted to know more. We got some answers from the enchanted prince surfer dude himself, Alec Avedissian.
Is the act of “intercepting billboards” as daring/exciting as it sounds?
Haha, no. RAREFORM now has partnerships with outdoor advertising companies, specifically Lamar Advertising. We help them reduce their waste, they get to do something positive for their customers, and together we can reduce the amount of material going to the landfills
What sort of charities and organizations does the 1% go to?
We work with an organization called 1% For The Planet. They take 1% of our sales and work with environmental groups around the world, doing things to change the world for the better. We do this as a simple pledge to the environment.
How does surfing compare to investment banking?
I love surfing. I could surf everyday—especially if the waves are good and I’m with my friends and family. As far as my short time with the investment bank went, I learned that life is too short to put off the things that you really want to do…the things that are really important to you. A revelation like that is pretty “surfer,” if you ask me.
You made a pretty drastic career switch. How’s it been?
Right before I started RAREFORM I was actually working for a US solar panel manufacturer. The switch has been exciting, stressful, and fun. I have learned about so many aspects of business, things that I never could have learned if I’d stayed where I was. The career switch was not “safe,” but I have great co-founders, great mentors, and great friends who have helped and guided me along the way.
Where did your interest in the environment come from?
I first became interested in the environment when I was living in El Salvador. The rivers, beaches, and forests were so pristine but littered with trash and plastic. I think seeing that in a new setting, outside of California, was eye-opening.
And what do you think it will take to get everyone at your level of interest?
I think everyone is actually becoming more and more aware of how our actions directly affect our environment. It will take time, but when people are given the opportunity to work with eco-friendly companies, I think they’ll feel compelled to do the right thing.
The pictures and videos on your site are pretty awesome. What can you tell us about the location?
The videos and photos on our site were all taken near Ventura County. We wanted to relate to our community and those close to us, so we thought Ventura would be the perfect place.
We think repurposing is awesome, too. Any crafty ideas when it comes to using your surfboard bags, paddle covers, and change mats when we’re away from the waves?
Definitely! I know some people use the surfboard bags as snowboard bags. Others use the paddle covers as tennis racquet covers, and the change mats as dirty clothes hampers or beach bags.
Now that you know all there is to know about RAREFORM, why don’t you take a peek at its products Who knows… a single bag just might set off a magical chain of events that leads you into your own eco-friendly surfer dude fairytale. It’s possible.