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Band of boarding brothers
On a recent sunny afternoon, John Sarkis and a few friends took a walk along a low-tide Double Bluff beach and pointed to job security.
Thats one of our boards, and that one, and that one and that one that ones too far away to tell, but you can bet thats one of ours, too, Sarkis said.
Sarkis, 17, is one fifth of the founding brotherhood known as Jackd.
Its a group of South Whidbey guys who are finding success pooling their names, pooling their money and pooling their creativity to make skimboards that have become hot commodities on Whidbey and beyond.
Sarkis, 17, is the J in the anagrammed Jackd name, along with Auston Reisman, 19, of Langley; James Conners, 24, of Clinton; Connor Adams, 19, of Langley; and Kyle McGillen, 19, of Clinton; and Dunkan Adams, 17, of Langley.
Although McGillen is no longer with the venture, he remains friends with the group and the K from his first name is immortalized in the Jackd name. The name and symbol now emblazons the groups boards and marketing merchandise of T-shirts, hats and stickers.
The guys grew up attending South Whidbey schools together and now they are business partners in a skimboard-making operation thats home-based out of Conners garage.
They create boards for flatland skimboarding, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Theyre great for Whidbey where the water tends to be flat, Conners said, and the beach nearby is the same. They admit to capitalizing on a freestyle flatland market they view as wide open.
Its a totally different style than whats largely being marketed out there, Reisman said.
If theres waves off shore woohoo! The boards still run great, Conners said.
The other day we were catching 6-foot waves like crazy out here, Reisman said.
The guys debuted their boards at Choochokam last year and brought 40 boards with them.
They sold roughly half that number and had requests for two dozen custom boards.
Everyones reaction to our boards was so surprising, Conners said. It seemed like where ever you went at the festival, people were talking about our boards.
They made a repeat trip to Choochokam this year and their boards continue to sell like hotcakes.
To get started, they took out a loan from some of their parents. But now they pool their money each month, and pay $100 dues.
Weve learned to work as a team, Dunkan Adams said. Were making a higher quality product.
The fellows can also claim to be a limited liability company; Jackd is officially in business.
Friday afternoon, the boys of Jackd took the time to test out a few of their old favorites and talk about the growth of skimboarding on Whidbey.
When I first started I was one of the only people out on the beach doing it, Conners said. Now look, theres so many people.
At 24, Conners is the eldest of the bunch. He was the first to start skimboarding. Hes the one the most groms (younger boarders) look up to. He is the oldest, afterall.
The kids are coming out younger and younger and they just keep getting better, Conner Adams said.
Bobby Saul, 14, is one of those up-and-coming kids. Hes also a Jackd customer.
He began skimboarding two summers ago and this summer hes barely missed a day down at the beach.
I go all the time, he said.
Saul said the Jackd boards double-ended, squared-off design gives the boards a boost.
Theyre easier to ride, Saul said. They just work really well.
Jackd boards currently come in a standard freestyle length, a shorter board for smaller persons and soon a longboard. The design techniques vary from freestyle hand painting to silk screened geometric shapes and henna tattoos.
Jackd gears its boards for its clientele by using heavier woods and a flatland design.
The beaches up here tear them up, Reisman said.
There wouldnt be skimboarding around Whidbey if it wasnt for Conners, Reisman said.
As Conners walked out to the beach, he was all smiles, board under arm. The guys chatted it up. Its been a while since theyve all been in one place at one time, let alone at one beach at one time. Most of them have graduated. Almost everyone is working this summer. They all have dues to pay to be a part of the Jackd team.
Now that were working on boards it takes away from our beach time, Reisman said.
While Double Bluff receives the most attention from skimboarders, Conners said other southend beaches shouldnt be neglected.
Maxwelton beach: Its a nice slow-sloping beach, and waves break from a sandbar.
Scatchet Head: Its really nice out there. Plus, theres a lot of wildlife.
The guys say they tend to avoid Langley beach.
Its rocky and has lots of barnacles, which eats up boards. And the sand there just sucks you in, Conners said.
Double Bluff is the prime skimboarding spot with miles of level beach and a gradual slope that allows for skimboarding in tide channels.
The summer months are the peak season for Jackd. Thats when its hot and everyones down at the beach.
Simply being at the beach skimboarding with the guys means youre on the job.
Weve sold quite a few boards just because people saw us on them, Reisman said.
In the fall they get busy with school. Most also maintain jobs, if not just for the summer, some all year around. The business pretty much dies off in the winter when the weather is cold and the sales are even colder.
Were just now getting an online shop up and running, so hopefully people can be patient with us while we work out the kinks, Conners said.
The Jackd guys are currently looking for interest in a skimboarding festival they hope to organize in mid- to late August.
This is all about having fun, Sarkis said.
Smiling big, his aviator shades and baseball cap, Sarkis couldnt even hide the glow.
These guys are Jackd. They take pride in their business.
It was something we knew we had to do, Sarkis said.
In their first year theyve already doubled sales.
Its great that we can pass this on to so many people, Conners said.
The key thing is for us to build our reputation before we expand too much, Reisman said.
This week, the guys are soaking up the sun along the West Coast. Saturday they headed out on a road trip. They headed south and plan to stop at beaches and board shops between Whidbey and San Diego, Calif.
Were still not sure if well make it that far south, but well see, Sarkis said.