Starting an eco-business is something many of us long to do, yet only a select few actually have the courage to go through with. Stan Schneider, founder of Newf Surfboard Net, is one of the few eco-warriors determined to make a difference. His innovative new surfboard bag company was inspired by the idea of giving 1% of his profits back to the planet we all love to live and play on. He’s taken the notion that each of us has a responsibility to preserve the Earth and created a handy new board bag for surfers and paddle boarders that also gives back to the planet. Conscious Connection caught up with Stan at Newf Surfboard Net to discuss he how he came to be connected with Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia and the benefits of a multi-functional surfboard bag.
Conscious Connection: What inspired you to start Newf Surfboard Net?
Newf Surfboard Net: It all came about when I viewed “[one percent] of the story” on You Tube” I was inspired by the individuals in what they were doing, how they got there and their passion to make change for the better. Turning age 50 a few years ago made me evaluate what was important to me in this second chapter in my life.
For many years I always was impressed by people being brave enough to reach out and take chances to come out of the sidelines to pursue a passion in life. I worked for 35 seasons in protecting our environment while working for the Park System. I operated an animal care center and native plant nursery along with patrolling to protect our beaches and waterways. It was in my blood growing up in nature as a child in the woods of Connecticut. I decided that day after viewing the “One Percent for the Planet” video that I was going to try to make a difference by coming out of the shadows to make change. I had several ideas that pertained to rock climbing and surfing and I came up with the multi purpose surf bag from years of observation.
Conscious Connection: Tell me more about your commitment to 1% for the Planet?
Newf Surfboard Net: One Percent of Newf Surfboard Net total sales whether we make profit or not goes to my five “One Percent for the Planet” recipient sponsors (Origami Whale Project, Ocean River Institute, East Maui Watershed Partnership, Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper, South Coast Watershed Restoration). One Percent is a network of companies that come together to try to make positive change. My commitment to my One Percent non profits is to support them financially, volunteering at their community events and aid them in fundraising. Many “One Percent for the Planet” members help by buying each others products to support one another’s non profits. Some have attended fundraisers with Newf Surf to raise money for a common cause we both believed in.
Conscious Connection:What makes the Newf Surfboard Net unique?
Newf Surfboard Net: Our bags are unique because they are a specialized functional multi purpose bag that fills a void in the surf bag design. Our bags were designed from years of observations of what a surfer can use in a bag. We analyzed the function a bag could provide in every aspect of the surfers adventure from when they grab their board from home to their return journey from the beach. We came up with a design that met our vision; a multi purpose functional surf bag (transport, carry, rinse, store) with a guarantee in workmanship.
Conscious Connection: As a California State Park employee, how has your work in the outdoors influenced your perspective on environmental issues?
Newf Surfboard Net: For the years I have worked for the California State Parks and being a life time athlete, I have had ties to my environment. I hiked growing up on the East Coast, the Redwood Forest in college and now on the Central Coast of California. As a child growing up in Connecticut, I lived in the woods swimming, fishing, catching insects and exploring throughout the different seasons. In the 35 years of being with the Parks System, I have seen many birds and marine mammals perish through strangulation and ingesting of plastics. I have witnessed our beaches, waterways and forests infested with unwanted trash and abuse of our public trail system. My goal for all these years at the State Parks was to do my little part to protect the resources and our visitors through education and my appreciation of our valuable resources.
Conscious Connection: How is it you came to be connected with Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia?
Newf Surfboard Net: I was first connected to Patagonia in the late 70’s and 80’s when I purchased their products. I was impressed on the warmth and durability of their wares. I even had a pair of their shorts that lasted for 12 years! The shorts were ragged, soft cotton they were my favorite shorts. I decided to ship them to Patagonia to show them how long they have lasted. Then I read an article that people have done this and it wasn’t common for people wanting to do this because of quality, comfort and how they wear.
I have read Yvon Chouinard’s books and listened to many of his lectures on “You Tube”. Through the years, I have followed Patagonia’s mission of protecting the environment and providing a product to the consumer with the least harm to the environment. Living a stones throw from Patagonia’s corporate office in Ventura, I have seen Yvon’s blacksmith shop, which he still uses, where the roots of Patagonia had begun when he was making climbing gear. In front of the shop is Patagonia’s unique historic restored old retail build transformed into a beautiful space. They choose unique individuals for their Ambassador Program to test their product and provide feedback.
When I started to pursue my idea, I met Yvon a few times and told him about what I was trying to do. He was a great listener and provided feedback. I remember him glancing at my “One Percent for the Planet” patch on my Patagonia jacket at our second meeting sitting with his family at an event. I did Patagonia’s corporate tour, stopped in many of their retail stores throughout the country, and have attended many of their events. I decided as my company grew that I would model my company after Patagonia. I would develop new ideas how my company should be represented as we grew.
Conscious Connection: What advice can you share with our readers looking to make an impact doing what they love?
Newf Surfboard Net: My advice would be to take the first step and get involved in any way you can. Attending events, volunteering, and supporting fundraisers are always fun and beneficial. There are many individuals that have a passion for a cause of protecting the environment, but sometimes funding hinders them from following through with their goal. They are willing to put their lives out there for what they believe. Connecting with like mined individuals and groups is a good way to collaborate in overcoming some of these obstacles. Attending “One Percent for the Planet” meetings was inspiring to me because you are surrounded by like minded businesses and non-profit environmental groups that want to make change. The room is filled with intellectual creative energy that is very inspiring.
Conscious Connection: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Newf Surfboard Net: When I decided to start a new business it was scary and far more expensive than I ever expected. What makes it easier is that I feel I created a product that I believe in, that I will use myself, and that there is a need for. I read that “You don’t decide to go into business to make money. You decide to create a business when you see a need first.” I have had good feedback on my product that I have created by many individuals and a positive magazine product review.
I want my company to succeed because it is important to me to be able to support my hard working “One Percent for the Planet” recipient sponsors and my eco-conscious Surf Ambassadors. Our bags aren’t for everyone and thats fine with me. I want customers that have the need for our bags and see the vision of the company. I am always in contact with my Surf Ambassadors for feedback and try to help them on the causes they are working on. Even if I never sold one bag, I feel the attempt and journey is what’s most important. I appreciate the wonderful people that I have met in this journey so far, have supported me and have given me feedback. Individuals can make things happen when they work together and when great relationships occur, great things can happen.