Two newly transplanted Denverites are trying to carve out their piece of the longboard market.
High school sweethearts Tommy Krawczewicz and Danielle Boucek moved to Denver from North Carolina in May to give their startup, Lowtide Longboards, some extra momentum.
“We had more Instagram followers in Colorado than anywhere else,” Boucek said. “Longboarding is a huge thing here. I think it’s just the culture here – it’s just so cool that everyone celebrates small businesses and everyone wants to help them grow.”
The two design and build custom longboard decks from their 700-square-foot Uptown apartment. They tackle the boards in tandem: Boucek paints them, and Krawczewicz cuts designs out of the deck by hand.
“My dad’s a carpenter and he was doing this palm tree cutout in the back of Adirondack chairs he was making,” said Krawczewicz, a former carpenter himself. “I thought that the design was really cool and wanted to put it on skateboards.”
Krawczewicz and Boucek order the maple decks from a California-based distributor before cutting and painting them to a client’s specifications. It takes nearly seven days to make a custom deck, which retail for between $100 and $300, Krawczewicz said.
Lowtide has three cutouts and five color schemes right now, but the startup will also take on custom jobs by request.
They’ve sold about 18 custom boards so far and filled two wholesale orders to longboard shops in Annapolis, Maryland, and Wilmington, North Carolina, before moving to Colorado.
The duo decided to move to Denver after they realized the majority of their 4,000-strong Instagram following was from Colorado. They use the image sharing website as their primary marketing and research tool.
Krawczewicz and Boucek have invested about $4,000 into Lowtide since moving to Denver, which has been financed almost entirely through longboard sales, Boucek said.
“Each deck costs $25 (in raw materials), so with one order we can buy like nine other boards,” she said. “So we keep doing that so we can just focus on expanding.”
Lowtide will join at least one other Denver longboard maker. RiNo’s Knights of the Air is looking to buy more manufacturing equipment.
To help finance the expansion, Krawczewicz and Boucek said the business plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in the first quarter of 2016. The pair hasn’t hammered out the details yet but said they’ll use the capital to build a workshop and to design a lock for longboards.
“We don’t need that much space, mostly just ventilation.” Boucek said. “Our warehouse could be 700 square feet and it would be perfect. Right now, living with two dogs where we paint is impossible.”
The locks will use the boards’ cutouts to keep them secure. Krawczewicz and Boucek said they’re currently working with two friends to design the locks.
“You can’t bring longboards in a lot of places, like the post office or where I cut my hair,” Krawczewicz said. “These are $300 longboards; you don’t want to leave them unattended.”
Krawczewicz, 24, and Boucek, 23, moved to Denver from North Carolina in May. The two began dating in high school in Maryland but moved to North Carolina after graduating.
They still maintain full-time gigs: Krawczewicz is a prep chef at Capitol Hill restaurant Ace Eat Serve and Boucek works at Onefold, a breakfast joint and coffee shop.