Surf the Greats is a surf company based in Toronto focussing on building a strong community of surfers and recreational water users in Canada. We operate as a retail shop and surf school.
Mission: To empower and support cold water athletes to engage with and preserve Canadian waters.
Vision: We exist to bring out the best in surf culture and represent values Canadians hold dear as Canada’s global surf brand.
Values: We believe in creating a safe and sustainable surfing world in which every human being, regardless of race, colour, class, origin, gender, sexual orientation, and ability can feel welcome, included, validated, and most importantly, like they belong.
Tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised by the Atlantic Ocean in Southern Brazil, and surfing has always been a big part of who I am. I started my education as an industrial designer in Brazil, followed by media studies in California and Graphic Design at OCAD University in Toronto. I am currently finishing an MBA in Business Management.
I worked in retail and visual merchandising for many years prior to opening a design studio in Toronto in 2012. During my first few years living in Toronto, I had no idea that you could surf on the Great Lakes, and I thought my surfing days were limited to the tropical vacations I would go on. When I discovered surfing was possible here, my entire life began to change very quickly as I saw an opportunity to nurture, build, and empower the community here.
Surf the Greats started as a side project out of my design firm. It all started with a hashtag with the goal of connecting surfers from all over the Great Lakes and quickly grew as we gained the attention and support from surf brands and media from all over the world. A year or so into it, I realized this was my purpose and decided to focus 100 per cent of my efforts on building the brand and our community.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
If I could go back a year or two in time, I would tell myself to start learning all the new tools that have become available in terms of artificial intelligence and e-commerce, as I feel like there’s a new revolution happening.
What problem does your business solve?
We allow Canadians to live a surfing lifestyle from coast to coast and every great lake and river in between.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
I grew up in Brazil and spent a few years in California and Australia, places where surfing was part of daily life. When I started surfing in Toronto, there were no places or businesses celebrating surfing and surf culture like where I used to live. This was a great opportunity to create digital and physical opportunities for like-minded people to come together and share their love for surfing.
What is your magic sauce?
We are inclusive. Everyone matters and is welcome here. Have you ever been to a bike, photography, or surf shop and felt like the person behind the counter wasn’t interested in helping you because they were too good at what they did or too cool for school and you were not cool enough? We’ve all been there, and that has been the number one thing we are doing here. Whenever you interact with any of our staff online or in person, you are made to feel like you belong here because as long as you show up with good vibes, you do.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
First, we want to recover from the pandemic, as our industry has been greatly impacted by it. We would love to expand our brand with physical locations across the country and continue representing Canada in the global surf scene.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
I think the pandemic was by far our greatest challenge. We have had to adapt so rapidly and so consistently in the last three years, and I think we will still have a couple more years of revisiting aspects of our operations in order to survive and thrive.
How can people get involved?
If you are interested in starting to surf on the Great Lakes or want to know more about surfing in Canada, pop by the shop or visit our website at www.surfthegreats.org. We are always open to collaborations with like-minded individuals, companies, and organizations, so if you have an idea in mind, please reach out to us!