How I built a small business of custom bags just from a passion for surfing & traveling.
I created the first surfboard bag prototype while living in Rome in the autumn of 2015 – made for a surfboard I had shaped in San Diego, California at the end of a 7-month trip traveling all the way from Alaska to Hawaii. The board was a 5’4’’ retro fish – definitely not a typical size you’d easily find on the market. Without knowing how to make a bag or even sew, I had just put together the first hand-painted surfbag and this moment defined the beginning of my new full-time job
and an life-changing adventure.
I learned about all the processes involved in producing a surfbag - everything from the cut to the fabrics dyeing process. I researched the best materials and custom sewers. The first Fede Surfbags were something never seen before: women who surf on watercolour clouds. People loved immediately. Since the beginning of this venture, my bags have travelled from Italy to Europe, the United States, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Even though I was totally clueless about business, my custom boardbags were selling out across the globe with the help of social media, and I was at the same time inspiring others to make their own small surf brands.
In the background of designing and producing the bags, I spent a good amount of time in front of my laptop, using my graphic skills to create visuals and an e- commerce website. The most important part of the process was communicate to people through social media & events. I created a Facebook and Instagram account, @fede_surfbags, which gave me the chance to reach more people interested in my brand. But what has ended up being most compelling is telling the story behind Fede Surfbags through original designs created with passion and perseverance.
After a few months, I attracted the attention of surf magazines and well-known surfers. The most fun part was to go to surf events and meet people who were following me on social media.
I always listen to customer needs and create something special for them, gaining more experience day after day. Focusing on customer needs is one of the main drivers of developing my brand. What became very clear to me early on was the need to get out there and travel: whether this had to do with booking a ticket to Hawaii or simply traveling vicariously thanks to an object that reminds you of that place. And so I travel a lot, and this gives me the opportunity to understand what people need when they travel. This year I created a parallel collection of surf & travel bags that I made while on the road: The Seven Seas. The imported fabrics of the new collection are handmade in collaboration with artisans from Sri Lanka and Mexico. A “souvenir” for my customer that invites them to travel more.
“The most revolutionary technology is
the technology of the heart, the technology
of love. I invite you to experiment it”
What keeps my small business alive today between all that is out there on the market and the big brands is the uniqueness and the love for what I do. Each bag is a hand-painted piece of custom artwork. I’m a graphic designer and I believe that work commitment comes from a truly engaging experience. This job has never bored me because I have the honour of getting to know my customers through the custom artwork I made for them. It is still like the first time I got an order, when I was a little bit nervous and over-talking about all the features my customer needs to have for the bag.
So Fede Surfbags is not just a brand, is more like a community of open-minded people who like to surf and travel, who support small businesess and choose to shop handmade. The big mission behind Fede Surfbags is empowering communities in being sustainable, starting from shopping habits and inspiring other people to do what they love. This is the most challenging experience I have ever had, and the brand is literally self-funding. Additionally, I’m doing just about everything by myself. It’s hard work, but luckily I’m surrounded by people who support this adventure.
Fede Surfbags ®