Ting Boards - Laurie Reading & Shane Faulkner
Laurie Reading and Shane Faulkner have always been passionate about surfing, extreme sports, and a specific form of skateboarding known as longboarding. The adventurous lifestyle and then tragic death of a close friend motivated them to start up their own business called Ting Boards. The company’s mission statement was to produce beautifully crafted longboards that would replicate the feel and thrill of surfing. They also introduced a range of surf/skate and urban inspired clothing and accessories to compliment their boards. Shane and Laurie talk to Localeyez about how they realised their business dream, what it takes to manufacture such great boards, and how to successfully stop a longboard when travelling downhill at obscene speeds. Hold on tight!
Where are you from originally and where did you grow up?
Shane: I was born here, but immigrated to northern Spain when I was 5. After that I moved to Canada where I lived and worked for 3 years. I then moved back to Bruton when I was 18, and met Laurie on my first day in town, doing some building work at the At the Chapel restaurant.
Laurie: I grew up just down the road in Pylle, Somerset, but also spent some time abroad in Austria and France pursuing my passion for skiing and snowboarding. I really missed the countryside though, and came back to Somerset, first living in Bristol for a while, before returning to this neck of the woods.
What inspired you to set up Ting Boards?
Laurie: I’ve always had a passion for the extreme sports industry and love skating, surfing, snowboarding and skiing, and also everything associated with it like the clothing and music scene. When I met Shane we shared that some passion and were inspired to recreate the whole surfing experience out of the water.
Our aim was to get as close to actual surfing as possible with its style of surfboard turns and big hacks, and to bring that whole experience onto land. We also wanted to create high quality skateboards inspired by the old school Southern Californian and “Dog Town” shapes from the 1970s, when that style of skateboarding came onto the scene.
Shane: That’s when we decided to set up Ting Boards and design our own particular type of skateboard called a longboard, which has particular ride characteristics and unique designs. This type of board is really as close as you’re going to get in terms of mimicking the feel of surfing waves. We’re now constantly looking at new board materials, like carbon fibre and bamboo, resin infusion and beautiful woods, all with the aim of fine-tuning the ride characteristics of our longboards.
What’s cool about Bruton and setting up a business here?
Shane: I’ve always found Bruton to be a very youthful, creative and dynamic town especially with its numerous schools, where people are generally open to new ideas and products. It seemed an ideal place to set up our business.
Laurie: There’s also a real community of people here and I absolutely adore Bruton. For us, it’s really about getting the kids off their PlayStations, and introducing them to the skateboard lifestyle, which has so much to offer in terms creative expression and social interaction.
What makes your Ting Board longboards special?
Laurie: I think the big difference is how Ting Boards mimic real surfing. We achieve this by making choices about the shapes of the boards, the type of wood, and then selecting specific trucks and wheels to further tailor the ride characteristics. I first started out on conventional skateboards where the emphasis was on complex tricks like ollies, kick and tray flips. I much prefer long boarding because it’s really easy to pick up and learn how to do. In fact, we’re selling our boards to a wide cross section of people including young children, adults, as well as pro surfers and snowboarders. For me, longboarding has much more style, and is a really easy and fluid way of skateboarding.
Shane: I’ve always preferred the longboard style of skatboarding, and also started out out using a conventional shortboard. When I was living in Spain I used to skate down mountain roads. Longboards are much easier to control at high speed, especially when you’re carving down steep slopes.
Wow, skateboarding down mountains sounds amazing but risky! How do you stop?
Laurie: [laughs] There are a few ways to stop including sliding your board out to the side a bit like stopping a snowboard, or you can just put you foot down and use it like a break.
Shane: Yeah, but the foot down breaking option only really works at slower speeds. Best not try that one in Spanish Pyrenees!
The Ting Board longboards have some amazing designs on them. Who created them and what was the inspiration for the designs?
Laurie: We’ve been working together with local designers and artists who have come up with some really unique designs. We wanted something that reflected our love for the ocean, nature, the mountains, and the whole surfing and longboarding scene.
Shane: Yeah, I love the north American Rockies, grizzly bear vibe, which probably comes from the time I lived over in Canada.
Laurie: Actually the board artwork has really caught people’s attention, and shortly after we opened the shop a passerby came in and bought a board just because he loved the artwork!
And how have your boards been received in the UK skateboard market?
Laurie: Although we’re relatively new on the scene, we’ve already had some great feedback. We’re also due to be interviewed by a really well known longboarding magazine, but that’s under wraps for the time being.
Through a sponsorship deal we have with, Melodie King, a talented competition surfer from Cornwall, our long boards have also been featured in number of surfing magazines including Carve Magazine and Chalk Magazine.
Our boards and clothing are now being stocked in some great shops around the UK, and are also available at Mount Hawke Skatepark in Truro, which is one of the leading skate parks in the UK.
You can also produce custom boards. Tell us about how that works and what options you provide.
Shane: We offer a bespoke longboard design and building process, where we sit down with the customer to specify things like the board shape, ride characteristics, custom artwork and the trucks and wheels. By doing this, we aim to provide a really unique and personal longboard.
You’ve just opened a new shop on Bruton High Street. What are you going to be selling to entice punters through the door?
Shane: The shop is really the Ting Board office with a shop front. It’s also a great way to meet people, showcase our latest boards and clothing.
Laurie: We’ve also had quite a bit of passing trade, especially since the opening of Hauser & Wirth Somerset, which is a real bonus. We also feel that the Ting Boards shop offers something a little bit different to Bruton High Street, and it’s probably the first shop to also cater for the younger people in Bruton.
As well as the longboards and board accessories, you’ve also launched a range of hats, T-shirts and hoodies. Tell us about these.
Laurie: I’ve always loved the whole surf/skate/extreme sports fashion scene, and coming up with some industry inspired clothing seemed like the perfect fit for our longboards. I get a real buzz now when I see our range of Ting Board T-shirts, trucker caps and hats hanging next to leading brands in the shops.
Shane: We’re also designing a reversible onesie called a One Ting, which we’re hoping to launch at the end of 2014. So if it gets cold this winter, you know where to come!
What’s been the highlight for you in terms of setting up Ting Boards and making your business work?
Shane: For me it was the thrill of the initial business idea and its potential, but also when we then went on to create our first working longboard prototype.
Laurie: Being at The Masked Ball Festival was a real highlight too! This is a major event in Cornwall, where we were promoting all our boards and clothing for the very first time. Everybody was really hyped and buying our products, and to cap it all, Dreadzone was on stage wearing a Ting Board T-shirt.
And what has been the most challenging thing?
Shane: Nothing! We just love what we’re doing.
Laurie: The fact that we’re running a business that also enables us to go to the surf and skate festivals, and places where we would want hang out anyway, is amazing.
What do you love about longboarding?
Laurie: For me it’s about the adrenaline rush and the ‘stoke’ and the buzz that you get when you ride. It’s also an activity where I’m being pushed to improve my style and technique, try new things and ultimately get even more enjoyment out of the sport.
How does the UK longboard market compare to other parts of Europe and the US?
Shane: The UK market is definitely growing and there’s a thriving scene in Bristol with a great longboarding group.
Laurie: Longboarding has become quite vogue and you often see longboarding in music videos and movies like the The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s a rapidly growing market not only in the UK but all over the world, and it’s great to be part of that. We’re also in talks with some international clients about getting our boards into shops in America and Bali, which is really exciting.
Where are the best places to longboard locally in Bruton?
Laurie: Well, obviously safety first! It’s really important not to be skating towards oncoming traffic, and wise to wear a safety gear. But anywhere where’s there’s a bit of concrete really.
Shane: And you don’t always need a slope or hill. I also enjoy trying tricks and turns in relatively small concreted areas.
You’re also active in sponsoring a number of charities. Tell us little about what this involves.
Laurie: We’re currently supporting an amazing charity called Longboarding for Peace. Their philosophy is all about getting children into longboarding, and to encourage peace through the sport. They’ve found that longboarding seems to magically transform children (and adults), especially in deprived areas - who might not normally interact with one another. This program helps sow the seeds for peace because it is focused on people having fun, and learning to trust one another. So we’re honoured to be donating longboards to that cause.
Shane: We’re also supporting AH2O , which was born out of the work started in 2013 by a close friend of ours, Anton Hawkins, who tragically passed away last year, and was a big surfer. His work was about delivering essential water filtration equipment to families in the remote areas of Chinandega in northern Nicaragua.
Laurie: Actually Anton was instrumental in encouraging us to set up Ting Boards and to follow our dreams, and his death really motivated us to start our business and get things moving.
In addition to working with charities, we’ve also got sponsorship deals with Melodie King, who is a fantastic competition surfer based in Cornwall, and Harry De Roth who is the 4 times British Surf Champion and 2 times UK Pro Tour Surf Champion, both of whom have a board deal. We’re also looking to sponsor other people, especially longboarders in the UK, and we’re close to signing a major sponsorship deal with one of the biggest names in world surfing, and one of the most talked about snowboarders, who represented the UK at the Olympics.
When you’re not cruising about on your longboards, what else are you passionate about?
Laurie: When we’re not longboarding we’re back in the water surfing. Otherwise, we’re totally immersed in running our business and developing new ideas and concepts for Ting Boards.
What advice would you give to someone who is planning to set up their own business?
Laurie: Just go for it. A lot of people spend too much time dreaming about doing something and never take the first step.
Shane: Definitely, do what you love, especially if it’s a job you’re going to be doing for most of your life. Otherwise what’s the point?
What plans do you have for Ting Boards in the future?
Shane: We’re currently developing a new longboard called a Pin-Tail. It’s going to be a similar shape to our existing carver boards, but the board will have a bit more flex to it, and the tail will come together in a pin, hence the name.
Laurie: We've also got some great new artwork, which is soon to be on a variety of T-shirts and clothing, so watch this space!
Who’s been the biggest inspiration in your lives?
Laurie: It’s got to be Shane really! [laughs]
Shane: Does that mean I have to say Laurie now?
What are you listening to on your MP3 players at the moment?
Shane: I’m listening to lots of reggae and hip hop on mine.
Laurie: I’m really into acoustic, singer songwriter music, or anything that has real heart and soul in it. There’s a strong music scene linked to the whole surfing culture, especially with artists like Ben Howard and Isak Strand.
What do you think the world needs more than anything?
Shane: I think it's about being wholesome and doing good things, and sharing your passion for life with others.
Laurie: And for people to get away from their computers, iPads and PlayStations and get into longboarding! [laughs] Also you’ve only got this life - go and live it!