Meet Sarah Quinney, co-founder of Boardsox

‘Not all surfers are ocean activists – that’s where I come in’

For an industry firmly rooted in the ocean and full of people with a strong connection to the environment and nature, it surprises many that large surfing brands are lagging behind in their commitment to reducing their environmental footprint.

Quinney explained that smaller brands are leading the charge in shifting towards more sustainability. Meanwhile, larger, mainstream surfing brands are just starting to jump on the bandwagon and move over to more environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes.

“Not all surfers are ocean activists, and that’s where I come in – building a brand that gives back because we’re passionate about it being part of our value system,” she said.

Surfboard covers were one of the last areas of the surfing industry to get creative with sustainability, so Quinney jumped at the chance to fill the gap in the market and create something that made a difference.

“Our community and our customers are what make us special. They want to be part of the change and the movement in buying products that have value to them, that stand for something, and mean something,” she said.

Boardsox proudly stands by its values and openly shares them with its customers, such as resisting the pressure to join the November Black Friday sale madness, which many critique as a promotion of mindless consumption that creates excessive waste and emissions.

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Doing well in business by doing right by the planet

Boardsox has had extraordinary success, which Quinney credits to their strong mission statement, connection, and alignment with its customers.

In addition to its strong focus on environmental sustainability, Boardsox maintains three strong charity partnerships with individual designs created by different artists, including Indigenous artist Zachary Bennett-Brook of Saltwater Dreamtime.

Proceeds from these designs go to partner charity Juraki Surf Culture, which connects Indigenous children with surfing, and has generated more than $5000 for these charities so far.

Bennett-Brook described how his designs were inspired by the beautiful natural patterns of Australia’s oceans, featuring interconnected shapes representing meeting places, and the connection between us and the planet we call home and must do more to protect.

Quinney credits much of her business growth to a strong social media presence. About 70 per cent of Boardsox sales come directly from Facebook advertising, and about 90 per cent of sales enquiries come through Instagram.

Quinney’s journey began when she first stepped onto a surfboard at the age of 15, and it is far from over. She is changing the game and returning the surfing community to its roots – something she says it has been yearning for ever since RipCurl, the last of the big Australian independent surf brands, was sold three years ago to Kathmandu group.

Boardsox will soon launch its new range of surfboard covers made entirely from recycled plastic – the first of its kind to be made in Australia.

Watching her business boom, having nurtured it from its early beginnings in her garage, Quinney strongly encourages women with entrepreneurial aspirations to dive in.

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“Never give up,” she said. “If someone else can make it happen, so can you.”