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Community Highlights: Meet Sean Johnson of SJ Surfboards

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sean Johnson.

Hi Sean, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I started surfing at the age of 14 and quickly developed a passion for building surfboards. I started learning as much as I possibly could (talking with other surfboard shapers, reading surfing magazines, going into surf shops and picking up and studying the surfboards). I started my business, SJ Surfboards when I was 15 and fell in love with the craft of surfboard shaping.

My emphasis, and what I think sets me apart in my business, is sharing my passion for surfboard building with my customers. I always welcome anyone who is interested in coming to watch me shape their board and participate or see the process. I get a lot of enjoyment in teaching and seeing other people stoked on the finished product. So, in a nutshell, I build surfboards because I love them and I believe that love is translated into every board.

I want to emphasize that it took a lot of practice, patience and belief to get where I am today. I always close my eyes and create a vision of every surfboard before I build it. The best feeling is when a surfer tells me that I’ve made them a magic board. There is nothing better than elevating the sport of surfing for someone.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I think the biggest struggle was being young when I started my business. I was still a teenager in high school when I started to grow SJ Surfboards. The surfboard industry is pretty big in California and it’s difficult to stand out sometimes. That’s why I always go back to customer service and having a one on one experience with every customer. I just want to share my passion of shaping with anyone who is interested in learning or just being involved in the process.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about SJ Surfboards?
Every SJ Surfboard is built by hand and is customized for each individual surfer. I interview each surfer and ask questions about their surfing experience, physical ability, the types of waves they surf, what boards they are currently riding and the pros/cons of those boards. Once I get all that information, I’m able to hand shape a board that suits their surfing abilities and needs/wants, along with any custom color or design they choose.

I mostly specialize in high-performance shortboards, which provide the most versatile shape for the waves and conditions in San Diego. Order a custom board and watch it get shaped! Everyone is always welcome. 🙂

How do you think about happiness?
Lots of things! I have a pretty big list of hobbies- Of course, I love surfing around the world, being near the ocean, traveling with my wife, playing my drums, plus I’m a full-time firefighter. I also enjoy restoring classic cars and woodworking. But I find a lot of happiness in simply serving others and helping people out.


  • Custom surfboards start at $500 but for exact pricing it’s easiest to contact me or check out my website.

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