From growing up in Montreal, to standing up in Australia, to starting up in Vancouver, and now settling up in Montreal; we sat down with Shaper Studios founding partner, Mitch Martin, to hear how his journey in surfing has taken him full circle and how he came up with his unique surf cafe concept for Shaper Studios Montreal.
Growing up in Montreal, Michel "Mitch" Martin didn't have much exposure to surfing, surfboards, or surf culture. A five hour drive from the coastal cold water surf of Maine and a 12 hour drive to even colder climates of Canada's coastal province of Nova Scotia.
It took a trip to Australia, at the age of 20, for Mitch to catch his first wave. He ended up staying in Sydney, Australia for about 6 months before returning to his waveless hometown. He quickly discovered that the easiest surf destination for most French Canadians is Central America. Mitch hopped as many flights as possible to Costa Rica to pursue his passion for surf. This dirty surf habit landed him his first big gig with a surf travel outfit called Beach Travellers.
Beach Travellers would eventually move Mitch out west to make a new residence in Vancouver, BC, where again, he was a good 5 hour trek from Tofino. The difference this time was that Vancouver City was home to a large demographic of dedicated Canadian surfers who frequented the small town of Tofino.
It wasn't long before Mitch made friends with a young Hawaiian named Nate Batara and the two of them started shaping surfboards in a 3-car garage in East Vancouver. With no mentorship or training, the "Mistakes Garage" quickly began attracting a community of surf-starved surfers who also wanted to participate. The hobby became a passion, the passion became a business, and then the business became a global partnership with Shaper Studios from San Diego, CA. Together the team launched Canada's first public surfboard workshop called Shaper Studios Vancouver.
How do we get from Vancouver back to Montreal? This is where we turn the story over to Mitch.
"Shaper Studios Vancouver was quickly becoming more than a surfboard workshop. It was becoming a clubhouse for meeting other surfers," says Mitch. "I watched the community embrace our authentic experience with surfboard building, but at the same time the business was also attracting a much broader community."
That's when Mitch started to vision a surf cafe. A place were people enter for a good cup of coffee and stay for an extra shot of surf. "I saw the opportunity to take Shaper Studios home to Montreal. There are so many similarities between Vancouver and Montreal and so much potential to add value to the local surf community."
Shaper Studios Montreal is open for business and booking shaping lessons. You can make an appointment to shape with Mitch by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org OR you can drop by the official grand opening party on April 9, 2016 and say hello to the entire Shaper Studios family.