Kelly Slater: the 11-time world champion surfer has stakes in several companies | Photo: Outerknown

Kelly Slater's entrepreneurial journey has always been relatively kept under the radar, with surfing doing most of his talking. Let's take a look at how the Floridian planned the move from waves to the boardroom.

The world's greatest athletes are usually active businesspeople with multiple entrepreneurial projects in various fields of activity.

Surfers are no different.

Earnings accumulated from years of sponsorship deals and prize money must be channeled to reproductive gains.

Investing in new and established business ventures is a smart way to secure a steady financial future when retirement arrives.

Kelly Slater has been one of the most active professional surfers in embracing risk and generating wealth through company development.

Despite retiring from day-to-day competitive surfing in 2024, his business interests date back to the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Slater's first taste of success out of the water came when he lent his name to Activision's 2002 console video game "Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer."

The title made Kelly Slater a global personal brand anchored on his achievements and accolades as a sportsman.

But the first real risk-taking venture was undoubtedly Kelly Slater Wave Company, into which the pro surfer poured millions of his hard-earned dollars.

The goal was to build a wave pool like nothing the world had ever seen.

Creating an outstanding artificial wave that surfers could ride took years of research and development, i.e., financial resources.

And when the proof of concept was cleared, another $30 million was invested in building the basin in Lemoore, Central California.

In the meantime, Slater created new products and brands, co-founded other small niche businesses, and endorsed a few more.

Here are the list and profiles of Kelly Slater's main business interests.

Kelly Slater Wave Co.

Kelly Slater Wave Co.

Kelly Slater Wave Co. (KSWC) is perhaps the founder's greatest and most impactful business venture.

It's the company that created the world's first artificial barreling wave.

After years of behind-the-scenes tests and fine-tuning, the 11-time world champion surfer revealed his Surf Ranch to the public in December 2015.

Six months later, the World Surf League (WSL) announced the acquisition of a majority stake in KSWC for an undisclosed sum.

Website: kswaveco.com

 

Firewire Surfboards

Firewire Surfboards was founded in 2006 by Australian surfboard shaper Nev Hyman, a man who had already created Odyssey Surfboards in 1975.

The company revolutionized the industry by introducing advanced CAD/CAM software in surfboard construction.

Firewire Surfboards also introduced new and more sustainable materials in the manufacturing process, as well as innovative building techniques and technologies.

In 2015, Slater secured 70 percent of the company and became a majority shareholder.

Website: firewiresurfboards.com

 

Outerknown

Outerknown

Outerknown is Kelly Slater's adventure into the competitive market of sustainable clothing.

The pro surfer joined forces with creative director John Moore to create an apparel brand committed to responsible sourcing practices and the welfare of everyone they work with, from the farmer to the customer. 

The label produces a series of premium wardrobe items using the highest quality and most sustainable materials, resulting in 95 percent of the line being made with organic, Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC), recycled, or regenerated fibers.

As of 2024, Outerknown operates eight retail stores across the US, an online shop, and Outerworn, the resale platform that keeps clothes in circularity rather than in landfills.

Website: outerknown.com

 

Slater Designs

Slater Designs is Kelly's signature collection of surfboards and surf accessories.

Launched in 2016, it reflects the surfer's personal quiver of boards shaped by world-renowned shapers.

The brand works in conjunction with Firewire Surfboards and designs templates made from sustainable materials, including entropy bio-resin and other less harmful cores.

 

KLLY

KLLY

KLLY is a sustainable footwear company launched in 2023 by Kelly Slater.

The brand's flagship is a flip-flop designed for all-day wear, comfort, and outdoor activities.

The design philosophy behind KLLY footwear is deeply rooted in nature, particularly inspired by the relationship between the moon, the ocean, and sea creatures like turtles.

For example, the tread pattern on the sandal is inspired by the shell of a sea turtle, with 13 large plates representing lunar cycles in a year and 28 smaller plates representing the days in each cycle.

The footbed of the sandal is designed to mimic the gravitational pull of the moon on ocean tides, promoting healthy alignment and support.

In terms of materials, KLLY sandals are made using rPET & BLOOM foam derived from algae.

The choice of materials is a commitment to reducing environmental impact, as algae-based materials help combat harmful algae blooms and contribute to restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Website: klly.com

 

Endorfins

Endorfins is a range of surfboard fins launched by the Floridian surfer.

Slater reimagined classic fin designs and introduced new construction methods aimed at performing better while minimizing their environmental impact.

One of the key features of Endorfins is their ability to float.

Unlike conventional fins that are often lost or discarded in the ocean, contributing to pollution, Endorfins are designed to remain buoyant, reducing the likelihood of them becoming marine debris.

They offset the carbon footprint of fin production by supporting initiatives such as Sea Trees, which involves conserving kelp forests in California, protecting rainforests in Africa, and planting mangrove trees in Indonesia. 

Endorfins are positioned as an alternative to other popular fin systems like FCS II and Futures and are compatible with existing surfboards.

Website: firewiresurfboards.com

 

Yorks

Yorks is a recycled lumber business based in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The company specializes in repurposing wood sourced from old barns, piers, and other salvaged sources, turning them into new products.

The initiative was sparked by Kelly Slater's involvement, influenced by a friend's deep passion for wood and Slater's own love for surfing.

Yorks plans to use the profits generated from their recycled lumber business to purchase properties in lesser-known surf locations worldwide.

These properties would then be utilized to build eco-friendly houses using their reclaimed materials.

 

Solento Tequila

Solento Tequila

Solento Tequila is an award-winning, USDA-certified organic tequila range founded by surf filmmaker and tequila connoisseur Taylor Steele.

The philosophy behind Solento is rooted in the idea of slowing down and being present, reflected in its name, which is derived from the Spanish translation of "slow sun."

It is free from pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and additives.

Despite not being the average alcoholic drink consumer, Slater endorsed the brand whose process of creating Solento Tequila begins with the slow growth of organic agave under the Mexican sun for seven years. 

Harvested meticulously in small batches from a single estate in Amatitán, Jalisco, the agave hearts are then cooked in brick ovens for two days before being pressed to extract their juices.

Fermented and distilled naturally, Solento Tequila emerges with pure flavor, gaining complexity when aged in American oak barrels.

Website: solentotequila.com

 

Rythmia

Rythmia is a retreat center located in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, for individuals committed to genuine personal change.

It offers a week-long immersive experience and ayahuasca-based comprehensive program to facilitate personal growth and healing.

The program integrates ancient teachings of plant medicine from the Columbian lineage with various complementary modalities to create an optimal environment for healing.

Led by skilled shamans with training in the Columbian lineage, the program includes four ayahuasca ceremonies, complemented by Rev. Michael Beckwith's "The Answer is You" classes, integration workshops, intention-setting sessions, yoga, meditation, dance, and rhythmic breathwork.

Kelly Slater is a member of the Rythmia board of directors.

Website: rythmia.com

 

Purps

Purps

Purps is an organic energy drink created by PM Tenore, founder of RVCA, Dr. Chris Schaumburg, PhD in autoimmune deficiency and inflammation, and Kelly Slater.

 It stands out as the only organic energy drink with zero calories and zero sugar, packaged in environmentally friendly packaging.

Formulated to offer a healthy energy boost, Purps Organic Energy utilizes a blend of all plant-based sources of natural caffeine.

The blend includes ingredients such as yerba mate, green tea berry, coffee berry, Indian gooseberry, and pomegranate, providing a natural and sustained energy lift without the drawbacks of sugar or artificial additives.

Purps products are crafted with premium ingredients, prioritizing quality and health. They are free from artificial colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives, ensuring a clean and pure energy drink experience.

Website: purps.com

 

Freaks of Nature

On May 7, 2024, Kelly Slater, Ocean Ramsey, and Nina Williams unveiled a new organic sunscreen line called Freaks of Nature.

The sun skin protection is targeted at all outdoor enthusiasts and promises to stay on throughout the day.

It is made from bio-based ingredients, i.e., ingredients derived from natural sources such as plants, minerals, and microorganisms.

The bottles feature the first-ever airless pump made of 100 percent recycled plastic sourced from its partner, Oceanworks. The material is entirely traceable and written on a digital ledger.

Freaks of Nature products are proudly formulated for all skin types.

The sunscreen does not contain chemicals such as UV filters, parabens, PEGS, phthalates, silicones, petrolatum, synthetic fragrances, sulfates, phosphates, or formaldehyde.

It is Hawaii Act 104 reef-compliant.

Website: freaksofnature.com


Words by Luís MP | Founder of SurferToday.com

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