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Meet Alan Chalom of Better Surf than Sorry and Surfer Baby in Ocean Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alan Chalom.

Alan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Ever since I remember I have had a little spiral idea book. Never thought of myself as artistic or creative but would somehow come up with ideas and jot them them down. My ideas are typically inspired by my life passions: my daughter and the ocean.

I started surfing in 1973 while I was living in Israel and haven’t stopped yet. I have also been paddling outrigger canoes for over 30 years. When stand up paddle boarding came about it was only a matter of time before I got hooked on the sport that combines both surfing and paddling. Me and a friend came up with the name Better Surf than Sorry before I even had any products. In 1998 I created the Board Towel, a surfboard shaped beach towel.

The Board Towel was my first introduction to the industry. I had no idea what I was doing. I started with a trip to the fabric store to get some terry cloth then with a surfboard to make an outline and some duct tape to tape the terrycloth to the hardwood floor I created cut my first sample. That’s when the learning process of manufacturing, trade shows and marketing all began.

In 2003 when my daughter, Kalia, was born I created Surfer Baby. It was a natural progression with Surfboard shaped bibs, little surfer beanies and lots of other cool designs along the way. Now, when I have ideas it is much simpler to get them made and in production. Some of my latest ideas have been for paddle boarding. The most popular are my Pup Deck paw print shaped traction pads for dogs. That way your dog can have their own little spot on your board. The Big Board Schlepper paddle board carrying strap was the original board strap on the market.

Today I have most of my products being sold on our own site (bettersurfthansorry.com), Amazon and eBay. A lot of companies try and copy me so it’s important to continuously improve update and add products my lines.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I don’t think it’s ever been a smooth road but it’s usually been fun. Manufacturing is always difficult. First it’s hard to get the products just the way you want it and then you have to make a good estimate on how many to make.

I think as a one man show competing against larger companies the hardest struggle would be the copy cats. Each time I come up with a new product someone seems to copy it and put it up on amazon for less. I have learned that the time and money spent fighting that usually isn’t worth it.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Better Surf than Sorry / Surfer Baby – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I think what I am mostly proud of and what sets me apart from others is that my products are truly born from being immersed in my passion. Being among surfer, surf families and paddlers helps to inspire new ideas. Most of my products are the first of their kind.

Surfer Baby, especially, has customers coming back year after year to get some of our great Surfboard shaped bibs, beanies and clothing.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
That’s a hard one but would have to say it was when I was living in Israel and first discovered surfing.

I was walking by an old boatyard and saw someone’s attempt at making a surfboard. I had no idea how to surf or really anything about surfing but, like any stubborn 13yr old kid, I had to have it. At that time there were only about 10 surfers in the whole country but I remember spending countless of hours in the water with my friends trying to figure out how to do it.

Back then before cell phones were even on Sci Fi movies and sunscreen was a concern, we would leave our homes in the morning spend the whole day on the beach and come home for dinner surfed out and sun burnt.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Peggy Peattie

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