Folklore Surf: An Interview With Founder, Mar Cubillos

Surfing in Bali

Folklore Surf: the questionable accounts of distant lands, perfect waves, and surfing that a person can only dream of. They get bigger and better with each telling until they become your own target of exploration.

“It’s this folklore of surf that motivates us to create our own experiences that go beyond the time we spend in the water. This is our belief and it’s only fitting that we have a name that fits us.”

Folklore Surf Bali and Brooklyn

Our conversation started with an Instagram story. I had just finished the sixteenth issue of Waversons Magazine, a publication rooted in surf art and culture for LA and Orange County, CA. The solid black cover, lacking any sign of complexity, read, “The surf industry is fucked.” With an emphasis on industry, I put this out on the Gearminded stories and caught the attention of Mar Cubillos at Folklore Surf.

Spending my entire life in Southern California, I’m no stranger to the surf industry; it’s past, tumultuous present and unpredictable future. Somewhere along the way, surfing transformed into an industry, losing nearly all of its identity. Being a “child of the sea,” Mar shares many of the same emotions towards surfing and the ocean — we couldn’t imagine life without it. It’s this connection that moved him to create Folklore Surf, a culture in its own right that’s based on storytelling and the art of custom creations.

As the great Nat Young once said, “I wish that when they asked us: ‘What is surfing?’ I would have said it’s a spiritual activity and not just a sport because that’s what put us on the wrong track…”

I introduce to you Mar Cubillos, the Director and Founder of Folklore Surf.

Bali Surfer Mar Cubillos

Mar, can you tell us a bit about your roots? Where you grew up and where you call now home?

I was born in the capital of Colombia — Bogota, and by accident. Fun fact about Colombia’s Capital: It’s landlocked and 8,000 feet above the ground. My mother told me I started taking long baths as a kid and would cry every time she took me out. I was soon moved to an island of the coast of Colombia called, San Andres y Providencia, where I was raised and first saw the ocean — It’s been a long affair ever since.

I called San Andres home on and off for 17 years, Santa Cruz, CA, for 15 years, and Brooklyn, NY, for 6. However, Bali made onto the list in early 2016.

What are your earliest memories of the ocean? What came first, a love for surfing or a passion for the sea?

Longboard surfing photo Mar Cubillos

I can recall around age 5 or so, getting tossed by small waves onto the shore and getting as much sand in my hair as possible; I loved it; the ocean has always put a big grin on my face. My love and lust for surfing came way later in life, although the first time I surfed and stood on a wave was on a wooden door as there were no boards on the island. We did know about surfing, but thought it would be impossible to find a surfboard on the island, so we patched the door-handle of this old door we found on the beach with palm tree leaves and some sort of duct tape. It wasn’t so much the door, let alone surfing on one that was so memorable, but that energy of the ocean flowing under my feet — I will never forget that.

What is surfing for you? Did this meaning shape Folklore Surf?

Surfing for me is simply freedom in the most abstract kind of way. You have to give a 100% of your being while you are in the water, if you don’t express your body movement and style in the water and flow with it, it teaches you a lesson; you lose concentration and you will likely go down – I guess it teaches you lessons no matter what.

Folklore Surf Marmar longboard

What has been the greatest challenge so far, for Folklore Surf as a business?

Getting our name out there has been a bit of a challenge, specially when the surfing industry is so saturated now days, with so many brands to compete with. However, when there’s a will, there’s a way. We will get there.

There’s something to be said for handmade boards. Can you describe the emotions that are involved with the shaping through the delivery process?

Custom Surfboard and Model

So true. It’s incredible to see a persona form in front of your own eyes; wonder how it will ride and evolve from three, into a slightly different board. I had the pleasure to speak with and interview Mr. Wayne Lynch and asked him about making a replica of that one board he loved and surfed like no other. He said, “as much as I’ve tried to replicate it, it has been nearly impossible, even though I’ve copied all the dimensions to a ‘T’. It’s not the same board, they are all different.” I couldn’t agree more with his thoughts, there’s something special about every board, even if it’s cut by a machine with exact precision; they all differ. Some boards you bond with, some you don’t. That’s life.

Of the boards that Folklore Surf shapes, which is your “spirit board”? Why does it speak to you?

There’s a 6’2” template that I’ve used often, it was inspired by one of Gerry Lopez’s lighting bolt board from the 70’s — I have changed the rocker, width, tail and fin placement a bit to make it more maneuverable. I really enjoy it, it’s loose, responsive when you need it to be, and you can still pull some cheater fives here and there; it has worked great for me, and thus far I’ve gotten great feedback on it.

Surf photography in Bali

Of course, Folklore is much more than just boards. What other projects is the brand involved with?

We are very conscious of helping our communities, giving back to the ocean as much love as we receive from it. For every board purchased, we will donate two water filters that can work with the current tap water in Bali. These filters will be donated to poor families and villages. We are also getting more involved with other local agencies and brands on beach clean-ups while assessing the big trash problem we have in Bali.

Can you share some of your big plans for 2017?

Our website and all digital media will receive a facelift. I have been lacking in that department; most people don’t even know that we have a showroom in Bali.

Folklore Surf Bali

I also want to add team ambassadors to our family and continue working on helping out the community, as well as looking for better-fitted materials for our apparel line.

If you could surf any location in the world with the push of a button, where would it be and why?

Ah man, so many spots to pick from, but the first ones that come to mind: Snapper Rocks in OZ, Rincon in Santa Barbara, Malibu, and this little hidden gem I recently surfed in Lombok.

Folklore Surf Founder Mar Cubillos

Do you feel inspired to share the Folklore Surf story? Please do! And keep the tales of perfect waves and far off destinations alive.

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