Skimboarding is more than just a hobby for Claire and Todd Hartman. It’s the basis for their new business, Sand Dollar Skims.
“It’s been our plan for a long time,” said Claire, who was born and raised in the Parksville area. “We just started this spring.”
Sure, there isn’t a lack of skimboards in Parksville; head to any department or dollar store in the summer and you’ll find a selection to choose from. But the Hartmans, who met skimboarding, said the big difference between those boards and theirs is quality.
Sand Dollar Skims’ products are one-half inch thick, which is more robust than less-expensive models. This means that they won’t warp and sink like flimsier skimboards sometimes can.
“It’s kind of like a crazy carpet verses a sled,” said Claire.
However, Claire also said that Sand Dollar Skims isn’t trying to compete with the high-end brands you’d find at a surf shop. These boards are made of foam, designed for doing skateboard like tricks and can cost $180-$500.
Instead, the Hartmans are aiming for the middle ground by building boards that are accessible to beginners and of a high enough quality that they can take the rider through several seasons. Their boards sell for around $100 each.
It takes the couple around three hours over a four-day period to make a board.
First, Todd — who has been making skim boards since he was a teen — makes the skim out of layered mahogany plywood and epoxy. The bottom layer also contains powdered graphite.
Todd said his design is more old-school, with very little concave to make the board perfect for cruising on a flat puddle. He also only makes one size of board, but Claire said everyone, save for very small children, could use them with no issue.
“I find they’re very stable,” said Todd. “They’re tried, tested and true.”
Once fashioned, Claire takes the skimboards into her studio to burn images into the wood. In some cases, she will also add spot colour using a dye made of food colouring and rubbing alcohol.
Currently Sand Dollar Skims uses four West Coast and nautical-inspired designs: a humpback whale, a compass, the outline of Vancouver Island and a jelly fish. The company might also expand their options to include sand dollars, mermaids, angler fish and trees in the near future.
No matter the image, however, Claire said the design work is getting just as much positive attention as the quality of the board’s build. Some people have purchased Sand Dollar Skim’s products to use solely as artwork.
Still, Todd and Claire make their boards to be used and they hope creating a solid product will entice more people to get into the sport.
“It’s a great beach activity,” said Todd, who added that skimboarding was “some of the best exercise” he’s ever had.
“You learn about muscles you didn’t even know you have,” agreed Claire.
“We have some of the best beaches on the Island,” she added. “Get out, be active.”
Currently, the Hartmans sell their boards from their home-based studio in San Pareil and on Facebook. They also regularly attend markets, including Parksville’s Tuesday Summer by the Sea Market on Craig St. and at Parksville Community Park on Canada Day.
Claire said she and Todd particularly like selling at these venues for the opportunity to network and to share skim boarding tips.
“We (want) to get rid of frustrations,” said Todd, adding that he hopes giving the advice could entice more people to try and stick with the sport, as well as hurt themselves less.
In the future, Claire also said they would like to expand their online operations onto Etsy and that their ideal future would include a pop-up shop in the summer time. Hosting lessons on the local beach is another avenue they are considering.
To contact Sand Dollar Skims, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or find them online at facebook.com/sanddollarskims.