The/Studio: Introduce yourself!
Todd: My name is Todd Partridge and together with partner Lee Puffer, we founded and own Sole Handplanes and Sole Supply Company. We both have backgrounds in art and design, both earning graduate degrees from San Diego State University.
The/Studio: Can you tell us more about Sole Handplanes and Sole Supply Company?
Todd: A little over four years ago we started a niche business designing, making and selling bodysurfing equipment under the name Sole Handplanes. We designed an innovative hand-held board to aid a body surfer in riding a wave. These boards are referred to as handboards or handplanes, and our design and fabrication processes are unique to the market. Recently we began making bags and clothing to support the bodysurfing lifestyle under the name Sole Supply Company. Based in San Diego, CA, we wholesale our products to surf shops worldwide and retail on our website solehandplanes.com. Our company is operated and managed by a team of two people with the help of various consultants. We refer to ourselves as The Sole Collective.
The/Studio: What have you learned since starting your business?
Todd: Everyday we learn patience and perseverance. We strive to maintain an optimistic outlook. Keeping in mind that we are only as strong or a successful as the relationships we foster, we try and go the extra mile to make sure our communications are effective. Personally, that is my toughest challenge. It’s easy to make assumptions that what I have said or implied has actually been understood. Only find out that that is not the case. Of course logistics, shipping, customs are a challenge but actually it’s kind of fun to put the pieces of those puzzles together!
The/Studio: What about your business are you most proud of?
Todd: What we are most proud of, I think, is the breadth of reach we have been able to establish in such a short amount of time, especially given the limited human resources we have available to us. Social media has been our focus since the beginning and has enabled us to find followers and customers in every nook, cranny and deserted beach the world over. It has been encouraging to find that our products ship to places like Sweden, Switzerland, Nova Scotia and to Japanese mountaintops where one wouldn’t necessarily think bodysurfers would live.
The/Studio: What is the story behind the custom product that you produced with The/Studio?
Todd: The/Studio has allowed us to be consistent with our branding. Our printed graphics and woven graphics work seamlessly together across media and have given us flexibility and options. We really appreciate the responsive customer service and proofing system. Our relationship with The/Studio began relatively early on. They provided us with low quantity options and fast turnarounds that allowed us to get initial sample products to market without having to commit monetary resources that could be better spent elsewhere. It’s tough for a bootstrap startup to wait for weeks and commit hundreds or thousands of dollars right off the bat. We need to be able to consumer test some options The/Studio allowed us to do just that. We also make bags and other soft goods. The labels from the Studio allow us to multi purpose. We know that their products can withstand heavy use and exposure to sun and salt water. We don’t have to sweat the small stuff as they say. Even though our branding isn’t really small stuff -it’s pretty important.
The/Studio: Is there anything our community can do to help your business?
Todd: We have two community advocate organizations that we support:
http://www.puredrift.org/ Pure Drift is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit and environmentally oriented project. The Pure Drift team will drive from Southern California to Ecuador, passing through coastal communities in North, Central and South America. Along the way, the team will offer information, tools and water filters in an effort to help these communities reclaim natural resources and acquire clean, safe, and portable drinking water.
http://www.onemw.org/ One More Wave Corp mission is to provide wounded or injured service veterans with surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, or body surfing handplanes customized to their injury. By doing this they help veterans find therapy within the ocean.
We believe in personal expression, the strength of the individual and the ability to shape one’s destiny. This brings us back to the bodysurfer. Bodysurfers tend to go against the grain. They don’t conform to the dictates of the surf industry machine. They are genuine. They tend to seek out and define their own fun. They are individuals and seek the simpler life unadorned.
The Sole Collective, Define Yourself
Thank you, Todd, for sharing your story with us! We wish you much success!