Life on the Waves
There’s something romantic in the simple. It may be life’s greatest virtue, but the most challenging trait to acquire. In an achievement-based culture surrounded by busyness, the easiest thing we could possibly do is be busy. For those like Josiah and Crista Morris, founders of Morin Surfboards, simplicity goes beyond being a hopeful pursuit. It is a disciplined expression of the way they live their life. We got an opportunity to talk to Josiah about life, business, and whiskey.
Brad: Hey Josiah, why don’t you introduce yourself and tell me a little about who you are?
Josiah: I'm Josiah Morris. I grew up in Oxnard, California, a little coastal town between Malibu and Santa Barbara. I’m a husband, father, and surfboard builder. I’ve been married for 15 years, and we have four children. You can find us at the beach almost every day. Both my two older boys surf. My wife surfs. My daughters, they’re little beach bunnies, and you have to pry them away from the sand. I've been in the surf industry for 10 years, and started out from the bottom. I apprenticed my way through the various trades of building surfboards by hand, and about midway through my career I started working for the biggest surfboard manufacturer, specifically on the west coast, managing their production for a short stint. Just recently, I decided to just break away from the main industry and started Morin Surfboards to build surfboards our way. We live a little bit alternative lifestyle of slowing down, enjoying each other, enjoying moments, and enjoying where we live, and our community as much as we can.
Brad: When did you start surfing? How'd you get into that?
Josiah: Yeah, so that's kind of a legacy story. My parents were runaway hippy kids from east LA, and lived on Surfrider Beach during the 60s and stuff. My dad was the first person in our family that had started surfing. I come from five, I'm number four. My two older brothers competitively surfed locally, and my sister ended up marrying a surfboard shaper. I think subliminally in my upbringing, just smelling resin, and being around shaping rings had a big impact on me. When it comes to surfing, though, I actually was kind of a late bloomer. I was always afraid of sharks as a kid. Just didn't like deep water. Had lot of anxiety growing up, and I didn't start surfing until I was 11, but when I caught my first open face wave and got to feel what fins do in that gliding motion, I was hooked.
I lost my dad to cancer 11 years ago, so surfing is the last best memory I have with him. He was my best friend, for sure. We didn't grow up with much, but he would always tell us, "I can't give you guys the world, but I can give you the wilderness, and the ocean." And he did.
Brad: What was your first inspiration to become a shaper?
Josiah: It was definitely when my sister got married to her husband when I was eight years old. He sold surfboards for a living out of his garage, and he was always such a patient guy with me as a kid. I remember that just stuck with me. Simultaneously we moved from Ojai to Oxnard, and it was pretty rough. There was a lot of gangs in the area. At the time, I played soccer, and my first soccer coach was a man by the name of Malcolm Campbell. Malcolm is one of the Campbell brothers, which is kind of an iconic, legacy brand. They've been building surfboards for about 40, 50 years. Malcom was one of the kindest men and the best soccer coach I’d ever had. To him, soccer and surfing was always about having fun and working hard.
Before surfboard shaping, I was in construction, I built guitars, I always had to be doing something with my hands. I always wanted to live life full with just the simple things, so it was about that time that I started becoming interested in building surfboards. The whole joke in this industry is, “we make surfboards, not money.” When you get into this industry, you’ve got to be okay with simplifying your life, getting rid of the things that you don't really need and enjoying what's at your fingertips.
Due to that, my wife and I are just plowing our own thing and it's scary as hell, but I would boast in a really strong marriage, and a life that is so simple, but that I feel like the richest man alive.
Brad: Can you tell me about the first board that you shaped?
Josiah: I was working for this company called Proctor Surfboards in Ventura, and I started out there as a sander. One day, out of the blue, the owner was like, "Hey I have an extra blank. Do you want to try shaping it?" And I shaped it. It was from some foam he didn't like. It was pretty rough. The funny thing is my sister-in-law still owns it. I gave it to her at some point.
Brad: What would you say is unique about the boards you shape?
Josiah: It's combining the tradition, legacy and pedigree that I've come from. I want to combine the materials we have now, and some of the technique and shapes, and mix that with that transition era of surfboards. When it went from Beach Boys days and Malibu and Gidget. Surfing is becoming a little bit grittier, and there's no right way to do anything. People are like, "Man, we don't need this big old fin. Let's put this really sharp long fin, or let's put two fins in the board on either side rather than in the middle." I love that approach of just finding new lines on the wave.
I'll challenge our customers and ask them questions like, “Why do you want to surf like that? Do you want to surf like that because you see mainstream surfing like that? What's going to make you have more fun? Are you going to have more fun just doing that one turn like that pro surfer? Or are you going to have more fun catching more waves, and feeling the board gliding underneath your feet?”
Brad: Who has been the most influential person in your life?
Josiah: My dad. 100%, yeah. He overcame so much. He had a rough upbringing and had a pretty bad speech impediment and still got Master's in Business. He was an arborist by trade, and he took what little he had and worked really hard. We felt like the richest kids in the world because his presence, his adventure, and his stoic nature. He taught us so much about emotional health, spiritual health, and recreational health.
Brad: What are three words you live by?
Josiah: Identity, intimacy, and intention.
Brad: What does living slow mean to you?
Josiah: The first words that pop in my mind are “fullness” and “contentment”. When you do slow down, you smell things you didn't smell, you see things you didn't see, you hear things that you didn't quite pick up on. My grandfather used to close his eyes when he would eat something that my grandmother would make him. He would take bites and close his eyes. I remember asking him why he would do that. He would say "I'm trying to slow this moment down.” Those are the sweetest things in life.