Founded on Design, Grounded in Friendship
Our story goes back to 1997 when Martin and I met in the Product Design program at Art Center College of Design. We built a strong friendship through design collaboration and surf sessions in Malibu to wash off the prototype dust. After graduating we went our separate ways. Martin spent a decade designing snowboard boots for DC and Burton and I designed wetsuits for O'Neill in Santa Cruz.
In 2009 we both relocated to the San Francisco area. Martin was living the south bay and I was in the north bay, back where I grew up. Linking us was the raw beauty of the Golden Gate and its rich mix of ocean, bay and progressive urban culture. We saw a great opportunity to design casual footwear that combined amazing comfort with sophisticated styling - something the market was seriously lacking. We also recognized that just creating innovative footwear was not enough to be a compelling new brand, nor to feel complete as a human beings. We were inspired by a new generation of social entrepreneurs who were reinterpreting business as a powerful and sustainable platform for social good. We felt that a brand committed to a single social cause could be a very powerful vehicle for both transforming lives and empowering our customers.
So in 2010 we got busy building Freewaters. Martin and I started out with 2 desks in a tiny 500 square foot art studio. It was nestled in the trees about 30 minutes south of San Francisco, with Silicon Valley to the south and rugged beaches and farms to the west, just north of Santa Cruz. It ran on solar power and it was a quiet and meditative place - perfect for design inspiration. We dubbed it the Shaolin Temple.