By Cameron McCullough Photos Yanni & Supplied
It wasn’t the love of skating that inspired peninsula-based Harry Robertson, 25, and Sam Kirby, 24, to get into the skateboard manufacturing game, but rather the love of engineering and design. They wanted to make something beautiful and practical and, most importantly, fill a gap they saw in a market.
“We actually met at university and worked on some projects together,” said Harry.
“I was studying industrial design, which is more about the product, and Sam was studying communication design, which is more about the visual and graphic side of a product”.
“We realised we have complementary skills that work well together to get a product from concept to market.”
And while studying, and with the appropriate entrepreneurial flair, the two saw an opportunity in the skateboard field. Bottle Boards was born.
It started with humble beginnings. Literally in the loungeroom. The pair worked tirelessly to design and construct strong, flexible, and lightweight skateboards that would live up to their expectations, and those of their clients.
“Each of our boards are handcrafted. This results in a board that is aesthetically beautiful while still strong and giving the rider comfort and control,” said Harry.
“It was a long process with over 50 prototypes and many design changes.
“We would make boards and then go to skating days and let riders try them out. Of course, these people would become our customers, so we’d take their feedback on board and then move on to the next prototype.”
Harry and Sam saw many skateboards on the market were traditional vert decks. Great for the skatepark, but not as good for cruising. Then there were pure cruising boards that did not perform well in a skatepark setting. They decided to fuse the two and make a hybrid board that was suited for cruising but could also be used at the skatepark.
“We believe there will be a rise in the popularity of skateboarding now it has been admitted as an Olympic sport,” said Harry.
“We are also mindful that skateboards have grown to be somewhat of a fashion statement by the rider. They don’t just want something generic from a shop; they want to be unique.”
There is also the practical aspect of skateboarding.
“We really liked the idea of a skateboard for getting from ‘point a’ to ‘point b’,” said Harry.
“We admired them as a mode of transport, but you can also have some fun on them.
“We know that any good product is an extension of the user and we have designed Bottle Boards to be precisely that”.
Bottle Boards have been getting quite the following with sales across Australia and the furthest sale coming from Houston, Texas. In the three years they have been operating, they have sold hundreds of boards.
“We now have four boards in our range that perform different functions unique to the particular rider,” said Sam.
“The proof we are doing something right is that we’ll sell a board to someone and they’ll contact us saying their mate or girlfriend wants one too.
“If you have return customers, you realise they are enjoying the product.
“It is that attachment that people get to our boards that is a real point of difference.”
Bottle Boards use a manufacturing process that is a combination of superior materials and careful craftsmanship.
“We use a unique combination of the two woods; layers of Canadian maple and bamboo, to create a board that is beautiful but very strong,” said Harry.
“We also use a cold-pressing technique where boards are pressed together for 24 hours allowing the grains in each layer to settle together for maximum strength.
“And, of course, we are Australian made, which is a great reason to buy our boards!”
Being locally made means that Bottle Boards have full control over their inventory and allows boards to be customised.
“We don’t want a business based on networks, supply chains and wait times,” said Harry.
“We want to have our hands on everything we produce and make sure they are perfect”.
Bottle Boards are also committed to the environmental credentials of its boards.
“Buy a skateboard and we’ll plant a tree,” said Harry, with Bottle Boards partnering with onetreeplanted.org resulting in a tree being planted in the Tasmanian Midlands for every sale.
The future looks bright for Bottle Boards. They are branching out into merchandise to help build the brand and looking to innovate in the future while remaining firmly Australian made.
“In terms of commitment, we are extremely motivated, and both dedicate a lot of time to it,” said Harry.
“We want people to realise and recognise that there is a local skateboard business that is manufacturing superior product”.
And as for skating?
“We might not have skated that much in our youth but are definitely skating a lot now,” said Harry.
“It is a great way to connect with our customers and friends and get out and about.
“And what better way than doing it on a skateboard of your own creation?”
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