Misfit Shapes defines itself as a progressive surfboard brand. One inspired by art and individuality, focused on evolution and design and spirited by a counter culture movement and the colourful personalities and advocates that proudly fly its flag.
Chris Chong and Dave Howell, the owners of Misfits, are long-time friends who have shared a vision to create something together for many years. Their first joint venture – The Sugarmill – ran from 2010-2012, proving very successful before the pair redefined Misfits – initially set-up by Dave in the early 2000s, as a concrete business in Mona Vale in 2013.
“It wasn’t that I was so over ‘working for the man’, I have no issue working for other people,” explains Chris who has served both Quicksilver and Insight. “I guess we were just really passionate about creating something that was ours, that allowed us to have the freedom to do whatever we wanted to do. We’re not dictated by ‘surfboards have to look like this’. For us it was ‘let’s continue to do things differently and market the brand in a unique way’. We wanted to have that creative freedom.”
“Working at Insight, I visited all of Australian retail and saw a massive hole in the market for a boutique surf store with independent brands and different product categories,” reveals Chris. “The way we differentiated Misfits from other surfboard companies is we have always approached Misfits as a brand, as opposed to just a surfboard company with a factory, phone number and website.” This relies on a greater focus on marketing, a strong-advocates programme led by top-class local surfers and product ranges beyond surfboards.
Chris and Dave met through the church and a mutual pro-surfer friend. Dave was already working on the Misfits idea having switched from antique restoration to becoming a shaper, and has trained under some of the greats in the trade. “We are known for our fishes, hybrids and small boards,” reveals Chris, “but Dave is an amazing designer and an incredible gun shaper. We are starting to become known more and more for unique shapes.” Dave’s journey was a gradual calling: “When I was in Narrabeen there was a shaper at the front of where I was living. He was shaping for some big international companies and we were having a few drinks one night before he said to me: “I have heaps of work, would you think about shaping?” We were well into a few drinks at that time. About four days later I went around to his one day and started watching him in action and the rest is history.”
“I fell in love with all that shaping was, the variables, offsetting, what works, what doesn’t, putting it together and making it work,” continues Dave. “In the end it was an easy decision, but I just wanted to make sure I was making it for the right reasons. I got into shaping full time and did that for a year or two working for someone else until I could afford to go out on my own. It took me about four years as an apprentice, I just learnt the basics of surfboard design, touching the surface. These days it’s a lot easier. What’s nice now is to experiment.”
In addition to the commendable overseas charity work which has seen Misfits build roofs in areas hit by natural disaster, Chris and Dave are firmly committed to supporting the local scene – blanks come from Brookvale, the cutter is local, the glassers are located in the same building and fin systems from around the corner. Their staff all local. Misfits sponsors local clubs and subsidies boards for young riders in their quest to make it big.
A Misfits board may seek adventure throughout the world but its soul will always be in Mona Vale.
Address 3/ 8 Wilmette Place, Mona Vale, NSW, Australia 2103
Phone +612 9999 0308