Daily Bread Surfboard Founder, Chris Clark, On The Rise Of Experiential Gifts With A Difference

Chris Clark, founder of Daily Bread Surfboards, is often commissioned to create bespoke, handmade wooden boards as a gift – including the opportunity to join him in his workshop to create a board from scratch.

We talk to Chris about the increasing popularity of experiential gifts with a difference …

Chris Clark’s wooden surfboards are commissioned for a variety of purposes, from surfing enthusiasts keen to have their own board to ride the waves – or as a beautiful object to display in their home as a reflection of their passion for the sport – to companies looking for a standout boardroom piece.

Often, the experience of creating their own customised board is given as a gift in itself, with the experience as much of a present as the resulting board.

LUX: Since you first launched Daily Bread Surfboards in 2011, you’ve seen a rise in popularity among those looking to gift the experience of creating a surfboard from scratch. Do you think those who receive such gifts value the experience as much as the board?

Chris Clark: “For those receiving the gift of joining me in my workshop as I create their board, this experience is sometimes more important to them than the board itself. When someone comes to make a board with me, the first thing they see on entering the workshop is a rough plank of wood. We make it all from scratch, together, one piece at a time. Depending on their background, that can be a real moment. Whether they’ve had memories of being told they were clumsy as a child, to realising a lifetime’s ambition to be a surfboard shaper since watching Bear in the film Big Wednesday, it’s a different experience for each person.

Because I work with one person at a time, there’s the opportunity for some fantastic conversations about things other than surfboards too. Then there’s the moment when they take the board they have made away with them, with their name signed on the bottom as a shaper. That’s pretty special as well.

I love seeing videos and photos of people riding their boards. It gives me enormous pleasure to see my boards putting huge smiles on peoples’ faces. The way a wooden board rides is subtly different to the way a foam board rides. There’s a sort of serene elegance that wooden boards have, probably due to a little extra weight and the way they flex in response to a wave. One new owner said he felt “like a king.” Maybe that sums it up.”

LUX: How much influence do your clients have over their board designs?

Chris Clark: “Each custom made board starts with a conversation between me and my client, exchanging ideas until we’re both comfortable with what it is we’re trying to achieve. They can design almost every aspect of their board including length, shape, cedar stringers, nose and tail blocks, leash plug, fin set up – and much more.

Typically a board takes about 40 hours to build and I’ll always work around the availability of my clients.”

LUX: To what extent do you think people are seeking out experiences like this over material goods?

Chris Clark: “I once heard someone use the word ‘stuffocation’ on the radio and it really struck a chord with me. I think that more and more people want an experience rather than just another item. Our lives are full of stuff – maybe a head stuffed full of great memories is more satisfying?

I think something else happens too. When you have made something like a surfboard and gained new skills and confidence, then other doors start to open. If you can make a surfboard what else can you do? Life changing may be stretching the point, but life enhancing, definitely.”

LUX: Do you think the process of creating something adds more value to an experience?

Chris Clark: “For many, the experience of surfing in a new destination as part of a luxury getaway would be a most welcome gift in itself, but getting to grips with a new craft, with something to show for it at the end, can have incredible value. Each time they look at the board they’ve created, it’s not only a chance to reflect on their passion for surfing, it’s a reminder of what they are capable of achieving.

Especially for those who typically have a career where they don’t have the opportunity to use their creativity in this way, the chance to design and build a surfboard from scratch – which they can also ride again and again – is a gift that will last for a long, long time.”

LUX: What are some of the most common reasons behind people commissioning your boards?

Chris Clark: “At the moment, boards for weddings are really popular. Completely bespoke, with artwork that’s personal to the couple and their names burned into the deck. Wedding guests can sign them too, which creates an amazing memory of the day that can be kept for years to come. I’m able to seal the board afterwards so that it can be surfed too.

One of my recent commissions was a board built out of driftwood for a beach café. I collected the wood from their beach and handed them back an 11-foot board a few weeks later.

Some boards are commissioned to raise money for charity, some board making experiences as employee rewards … I keep all offcuts to create other objects and some of the little handplanes I’ve made have been commissioned to mark births and baptisms. Surfboard shaped wine racks, coat hooks, cheese boards. The tiniest pieces even end up as my business cards, with my details burned on!

New ideas keep coming through the workshop door.”

To view Chris’s work visit: www.dailybreadsurfboards.co.uk