Connect with us


Interview: When surfing sparks entrepreneurship



Cristian: Hi Johnny and Welcome. I usually start by asking about the business but this time I feel I should start by asking about you. So, tell us a bit about you.
Johnny: Thanks, Christian! In a nutshell, I’m 32 years old, obsessed with surfing and passionate about business. I started surfing at 14 and instantly fell in love with the sport, I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world and have experienced some of the best surf locations on the planet.

Cristian: What made you decide to open a surf and skate shop in the Channel Islands?
Johnny: I remember telling my school careers advisor, at 15, that I wanted to open a surf store, however after leaving school, I spent seven years working seasonal jobs, which allowed me to follow my passion for travel and surfing. At 23, I was given the opportunity to get involved with a local surf shop and although it was struggling, I saw massive potential in the business and thought it would be a great way to get my foot in the door. I was committed to updating the store to benefit the local community and wanted to ensure that it stocked a range of quality products from the best brands. There has always been passion for surfing in Guernsey, but there weren’t any local stores keeping up with the demand.

Cristian: Where are the Channel Islands located and why are they appealing to surfers?
Johnny: The Channel Islands are a group of small islands just off the coast of Normandy, comprising of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm. Yakwax is based in Guernsey as its where I grew up and so the location has always been close to my heart. Collectively, the Channel Islands have a great active surf community and some fun waves to boot.

Cristian: How important is to be “an expert” in what you sell?

Johnny: I believe being able to offer honest advice to customers and sharing their passion is vital! I am confident that the years of first hand industry experience that the Yakwax team and I have for surf, skate and snow sports is what sets us apart from the competition. We are all passionate about giving the best customer service and ensuring the customer leaves satisfied that they have made a great purchase.

Cristian: As I’m driving a 1972 VW Hippie Bus my image about surfing is living la vida loca, without commitments, without being attached to a location. I guess you had to invest in opening a legal business, shop and inventory. Isn’t this quite a big step? How did it all started?
Johnny: It was a huge step and it drastically changed my lifestyle in terms of being care / commitment free – but it’s the best thing I ever did! I got involved with Yakwax when it was struggling. There was no stock system in place, no budgeting, no proper branding and no plans for future progression. Saying that, the basic structure was in place, the store had a small, but loyal customer base, a physical shop and a cool range of suppliers that appealed to a young audience. I took over the company intending to launch an ecommerce site, to develop the customer base and grow the business and its structure.

Cristian: Do you have to be business savvy to become an entrepreneur?
Johnny: Naturally it helps to be savvy, but the best way to learn is through experience. I didn’t have any previous business experience, but I was committed and passionate. If I was to offer my advice to an aspiring entrepreneur, I’d say you will make mistakes, you will work long hours and you may have some sleepless nights, but the more you do it the more you learn – Running your own business leaves you with a great sense of satisfaction and pride!

Cristian: I see you have 2 partners. How did you decide to start a business together? Do they come with different skills and you realized you’ll get things done easier together or is it just a common passion?
Johnny: My partners each bring individual qualities to the business. One is more of a silent partner; although he’s 100% passionate about Yakwax he has other commitments elsewhere to pay the bills. He’s great though because he get’s what I’m trying to do and offers 100% support and gives me confidence to pursue things. Liam is our manager at the shop and possesses a wealth of knowledge in the skate industry and has been instrumental in building our catalogue of brands. He has a keen eye for what’s on trend so we’re always evolving and stocking relevant quality products.

Cristian: They say follow your passion and you’ll never feel like working again. It doesn’t work for me this way. As soon as it’s a job, I hate it. How does it work for you?
Johnny: For me, when it’s something you truly care about and have goals in mind it doesn’t feel like ‘a job’. I regularly work 12 hour days and still leave thinking I could do more! In my previous roles, I’d be banging my head against a wall after a couple of days but at Yakwax I find the time absolutely flys by. I think the key is having passion and setting goals. This way you always have something to aspire to, which is the driving force for me.

Cristian: How is different from any other shop for surfers in UK?
Johnny: There’s plenty of good quality surf shops in the UK and we don’t necessarily single any of them out to compete with. Our goal is to be the very best we can be and to make the most of our resources. We want Yakwax to be a store that we’d be stoked to use as customers and feel we achieve this through having the following:

  • Quality Products
    • Great Customer Service and very approachable
    • Value for Money
    • Trying to always better our services
    • Listening to customer feedback and finding ways to incorporate it

The goal is always to provide customers with exactly what they’re after or be able to offer them something that they are going to benefit from.

Cristian: Do you deliver only to the Channel Islands?
Johnny: We actually offer worldwide delivery. We have shipping options for Mainland UK; Republic of Ireland; Europe and International countries, as well as The Channel Islands. It’s quite mind blowing when we get orders from all corners of the globe and super remote places.

Cristian: Who is your typical customer? And any advices regarding surfing in the Channel Islands? Where can you catch the best waves?
Johnny: Locally our typical customer is 10 – 40 year olds or simply people wanting to make the most of the beach lifestyle that we’re so fortunate to have here in Guernsey. We get a variety of customers, from retired guys looking to get involved in surfing, to those that were the pioneers locally and are still going strong in to their 70’s.

Wave wise, Vazon is the most popular beach and is home to the Guernsey Surf School. The bay itself hold all tides (they are huge over here) which makes if a firm favorite. For more experienced surfers, Portinfer is a great option on a mid-low tide

Cristian: What is your best-selling product? How do you choose what to sell?
Johnny: Believe it or not our best selling product is Stance Socks which are taking the world by storm and have turned the sock industry on it’s head. It’s now very cool for kids to receive a pair of socks at Christmas as long as they’re made by Stance. Purely on the surf side of things, Xcel Wetsuits and Channel Islands Surfboards are always really strong.

The first thing when it comes to product selection is looking at what want to use ourselves, we’re all surfers that thrive on using premium quality products that will enhance our performance or overall enjoyment, so our selection stems from that, but we will also have various options to cater everyone’s budgets.

Cristian: Is there a best moment to buy skate and surf stuff?
Johnny: Surfing and Skating are both very seasonal. Skating is way more popular in the summer months due to the light evenings and dryer, warmer weather. Surfing is super popular in summer but we get our best waves in autumn/winter so you have a nice balance of beginners and newcomers in summer and the more hardcore seasoned surfers in the darker months.

Cristian: What would be your elevator pitch about the shop?
Johnny: Yakwax is a business that focuses on providing quality products that fit our customer’s needs. We’re committed to being flexible throughout our growth, investing in technology and future trends to stay ahead of our competition. This coupled with our combined expert experience is what has allowed us to grow year on year. More importantly we can offer our customers advice that will enable them a higher level of performance and fun.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


‘The Square’ Interview with Ruben Östlund, Claes Bang and Elisabeth Moss




Director Ruben Östlund is an adventurer of Swedish film and a hard man to satiate. It is seen in his Oscar-nominated film – The Square that has received much attention. Here is an excerpt from the interview with The Playlist as actors Claes Bang and Elisabeth Moss share their experience with the movie and the director.

Claes Bang: Can I tell you a funny story from Cannes?

Elisabeth Moss: Yeah.

Claes Bang: When we were [at Cannes] there was this Screen International journalist, Wendy Mitchell, and she saw the film, she loved it, and she started [rooting] for me as best actor. She put on her Facebook page she put “The Daily Bang” and posted a new photo of me every day. Invented the hashtag #BangforBond.

Elisabeth Moss: So good!

Claes Bang : At the end of the festival, all these predictions come out, right? My agents were fanning me. “It says in Variety now that you’re gonna win. It says in the Daily Telegraph you’re gonna win. It says in The Guardian.” It said everywhere and I started fucking believing the hype. I did. I started believing the hype, because everybody was saying, “It’s an amazing film. It’s so fucking good, but you’re not gonna win the big thing because it’s too funny.” So when we got that phone call on Sunday…

The Playlist: And they told Ruben to come, too, it wasn’t just…

Claes Bang: No, no. They invite the entire crew that is there. So they said to come and I was like, “Fuck, I’m gonna get [an] award.” So when they said, “And the award for Best Actor goes to,” I was almost fucking getting my ass out of the seat and then they said, “Joaquin Phoenix.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll stay put.” Then the next prize went, the next prize went, the next prize went and there was just one left. I leaned over to Rupert and I said, “Unless they’re really fucking with us, we’re gonna get the big one.” We got the big one and I was like, really, really so fucking happy about it, and he was, and everything was exploding, and then five minutes later I was like, “Wait a fucking second. What the fuck was that? He stole my award,that fucking Swedish wanker.” (Laughs.) So what happened is that all the people that get the awards, they go off to a press conference.

Elisbeth Moss: Yeah.

The Playlist: Yeah, I was at the press conferences.

Claes Bang: There’s an amazing party that starts out on the top of the Palais overlooking this harbor with all the boats and everything. Then you go down to the beach where there’s a department of a French restaurant that’s just the most amazing food, champagne, people in tuxes. I mean, amazing. I started to get a little bit pissed. I got quite drunk and then Ruben came back from the press conference and I saw him over there, and I was like, “I’m fucking gonna hurt him now. I’m fucking gonna go over there and kick his ass.”

The Playlist: Really?

Claes Bang: I was so mad. I was really … and I have done really, really stupid stuff when I’m drunk. So, I said to my wife, “We need to leave now.” So we left.

Elisabeth Moss: That’s the danger of believing the hype! That’s why after eight nominations I will never convince me of anything else other than that I’m gonna lose.

Claes Bang: And Ruben texted me something at [1 AM asking] “Where the fuck are you? I mean, we won and everybody’s asking for you.” I mean, everybody there had seen that film and unless you know Ruben, you don’t know that he is the guy, but everybody knew that I was sort of the lead of the film. And I was just…

Elisabeth Moss: Gone.

Claes Bang: I was gone.

The Playlist: But when you woke up the next morning with the hangover were you at least excited?

Claes Bang: I had to get up like, fuck dead early the next morning. That was one of the things. I had a show in Edinburgh that next night.

The Playlist: But when you were going to the airport, on the plane, you must have been thinking “Holy cow!” because when you make a movie you don’t necessarily think it’s going to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Claes Bang: No, and my wife, she was so fucking mad with me. She said, “We’re leaving the party of our lives. There’s boom boom boom and they all want to talk to you, and now we’re leaving.” “Yes,” I said, “This is not where I’m gonna kill a director or try and break the Palme d’Or in half to say ‘This is mine’ or something.”

Elisabeth Moss: But how Ruben Ostlund would that have been if the lead actor and the director got into a fight?

Claes Bang: Exactly.

The Playlist: Yes!

Claes Bang: When I told him this story, because I’ve told him and I’ve told the press and everything now, he was just like, “This is the best story of the whole shoot.”

Elisabeth Moss: Yeah, it’s the greatest!

The Playlist: He’s gonna put this in a movie now. You realize this, right?

Claes Bang: It’s cool. It’s fine. It’s no problem. Listen, what I actually find quite funny is that when you think about it, it’s like, “Oh my God, no. Did I do that?” But when I tell the story people are like, “Finally, someone is coming out and saying I was really, really disappointed not to win.”

Elisabeth Moss: Right. Totally, yes.

Claes Bang: It was literally something like five or six places where it said, “He’s gonna win it.” I fucking believed it.

Elisabeth Moss: Of course. It’s dangerous!

The Playlist: By the way, I’m one of those people that do the stuff that say “these people are going to win.”

Elisabeth Moss: Right, exactly!

The Playlist: So, I guess I apologize?

Elisabeth Moss: No, by all means. It’s your job, but it’s like…

Claes Bang: I have this thing also that was like, “Okay, they really invited a rookie to Cannes. Now we’re gonna fuck with him.”

The Playlist: It’s not personal!

Claes Bang: “We’re gonna build him up, we’re gonna make him believe, and then-”

Elisabeth Moss: “We’re gonna take it away. Just to teach him a lesson.”

The Playlist: Elisabeth, you weren’t at the ceremony. Were you there for the premiere and then you left?

Elisabeth Moss: I went to Antibes which is like 45 minutes, a half an hour away or something. Nobody asked me to go to the Palme d’Or Ceremony.

The Playlist: Oh, they didn’t call and tell you? I thought they gave everyone 24 hours notice.

Claes Bang: No. For instance, if you’re in Japan and you’ve gone back to Japan and you’re getting an award, they will let you know in time so you can get on a plane.

Disclaimer: Photographs utilized by this page is not the sole property of the page or it administrators; the photos utilized by us come from around the worldwide web and are shared publicly.

Continue Reading






Christo, you and your wife Jeanne-Claude were born on the exact same day in 1935, but in completely different countries. Do you believe in destiny?

Jeanne-Claude always said, “There are a million people born on the same day.” But it happened that we met, that’s all. That is something not unusual. But there are many things that are not destiny. You make your own destiny.

You worked together for nearly 50 years. Would you have become the same artist without her?

It’s the same question to ask, “What would happen if I were Chinese?” (Laughs) We cannot discuss these things – if, if, if – there are no ifs. After living for 80 years, there are no ifs. I can only say one if and it was that I was rather lucky to escape in 1957 to the West. I had never been outside of Bulgaria until 1956 and if I didn’t go to the West, things would have probably been different.

The Soviets had a very strict policy against modern art so you might have not made art at all.

I was drawing all the time as a little boy, like 5 or 6 years old, and it was at this age that I decided to be an artist. There was never a thought about anything else. But it’s true, in the late ’40s and early ’50s most modern art was not permitted to be seen in the Soviet Bloc countries. There were some very bad reproductions and old books… I desperately tried to go beyond Bulgaria and the Soviet Bloc, but even going to other communist countries was very difficult. Fortunately my aunt and my uncle were living in Prague and finally I succeeded in finding a way to visit them. And I was totally flabbergasted by Prague!


It was the most Western country. Even before the chance to fully escape came into view, I had already decided that I was never going to go back to Bulgaria! I was going to stay in Prague. I was young, like 21 years old, and when you’re young and you discover the relatively small freedom of the Western art in Czechoslovakia and Prague in the late ’50s, suddenly you dream of going to Paris! And this is how the stage was set for me to go to Paris.

Continue Reading






Ms. Roš, what are the main challenges in Slovenian cuisine today?

I think Slovenia is slowly, slowly stepping on the world gastronomic map. But my generation of chefs needs to fight for every single step, and every decision is opening a new door. If you work in Italy or Germany, and you cook well, sooner or later you will get the recognition that you need — there is the Michelin Guide, there is Gault Millau, there is the L’Espresso Guide. While in Slovenia, you can be really good, but up to the moment when the international community acknowledges you, you are actually no one.

You have been the head chef of Hiša Franko in Kobarid for almost 20 years — and it wasn’t until this year that you were recognized as the number one female chef by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants academy.

Right, it’s a very, very slow process. Everybody travels for food to Copenhagen, London, or Paris, but who knows where Kobarid is? So it has been a long, long struggle and fight. It doesn’t have only to do with the quality of the restaurant; you have to prove that you are worth certain awards three times more than in developed countries.

“Creativity is something that does not come only from our childhood — it has a lot to do with our own personality.”

I guess the former Yugoslavia doesn’t necessarily come to mind as a haven for creativity in fine dining. What was it like growing up there in the 1990s?

Well, my mother was actually a brilliant cook. She was a journalist and a very creative person, so our meals at home were very colorful and never repeated. But if I think of the food from my childhood, I think of a simple pasta dish with homemade tomato sauce. It really was a super flavorful meal, with a drop of olive oil on the top and with no cheese. That was the most loved meal when I was a child! That is what they call, “happy food.” You know, my children would kill for it.

My parents lived through the communist regime and told me they used to get so excited over simple things like bananas because they were so rare.

Yes but you know, Yugoslavia never had a very strict organization of the country — the borders were open and we could travel. Tito was a “bon vivant” and he was letting his people have a pretty free life. So Yugoslavia had a lot of good things as well. I think Yugoslavia was a place with a lot of creative people; culture was super strong, especially in Zagreb and Belgrade. But I think that creativity is something that either is in a person or is not. Let’s say I have two children and they are both raised in the same way. The girl is super creative and totally irrational, while the boy is totally rational and not creative at all. I think it is something that does not come only from our childhood or from our upbringing or from the regime in which we lived in — it has a lot to do with our own personality.

Do you feel more creative and irrational, or the other way around?

Oh, I’m too instinctive sometimes! You see, my problem — and sometimes it is also a good thing — is that I don’t question a lot. I actually just jump in the water and swim and I am a kind of personality that is never happy with average results. At Hiša Franko, I never questioned myself about how it is going to be like, especially because I never had any prior experience of seeing how a restaurant really works and I’m completely self-taught so it was like a total experiment and we are still making corrections.

Source: The Talk

Continue Reading