How To Shape It In America
Meet Frankie Cuda of Thread Designs
Before taking my privileged role as Stab’s heavy bag, I was a bartender prescribing wine to housewives in “Surf City, USA”. One town south, in Newport Beach, I met Frankie. I’d just buckled the last decent board in my backyard patched quiver and was in the market for new foam. Shelling out $650 or whatever Mayhem, Channel Islands, or JS’s were running at the shop in 2012 didn’t suit my maxed out credit cards or my checking account that barely covered rent.
A friend of mine had just picked up two boards from Thread Designs before his trip to Nica at an attractive price. In the parking lot of my condominium, he opened his truck to show them off. I pulled both out, held them at my hip, then under my arm, and said something dumb like, “Yeah, these’ll go.” I called Frankie and put an order in that afternoon. Nine days later, his voice rang through my receiver, and said something Aussie like, “Mate, your board’s done.” Since then, I’ve had a few of his shapes in my quiver.
Shaping out of OC’s premier surf ghetto, Costa Mesa, five years later, his boards are commonplace on Southern California’s shores. “I started shaping in Oz, just for myself and few friends,” Frankie tells me. “When I was younger, a few of my older mates used to work at Darren Handley’s (DHD) shop. I’d spend a bit of time there and watch him shape whenever I could. I rode his boards and loved them. That inspired me to learn more about board design and how to shape both high-performance and alternative boards. To this day, Darren is still my favourite shaper.”
Any colour you’d like.
“Ten years ago in Australia, everything was straight up mainstream high-performance surfing. If you didn’t ride a high-pro you weren’t cool. If you had some hipster board or a glassed on single fin egg, you were out of place. But, when I came to Newport, everything was new. The waves and boards people rode were different. It was more exciting for me as a shaper. I didn’t start taking it seriously, like as a profession, until I moved to California.”
Today, Frankie, his girlfriend Erica Hosseini, who graced the cover of Stab in 2013, live on the Newport Peninsula. He spends his time between his shaping bay and working for his clothing/surf accessory company Sympl, that he started with Erica and ex-CT surfer and WSL interim commish, Travis Logie.
“Right now, I’ve been working on Sympl stuff for the first few hours of the morning,” he says. “Then I shape from 10-4 and work on Sympl shit from 4 pm throughout the night. I’m putting in like 60 hour work weeks right now, trying to get it off the ground.”
When I first met Frankie, he was shaping 10 or so boards a month. Today, he’s shaping around 10 a week. “About five years ago I started getting consistent orders. I date each shape. I remember when I started doing 20 boards a month thinking, shit I did a lot of boards this year. Then the next year it was 30 a month and following 40. Now, I’ve shaped over 2,500 boards and my froth for shaping is stronger than ever.” At 32, the man from the Gold Coast’s made a living off Thread Designs.
In dust and good health.
What’s kept me coming back to Thread is that other than the boards being quality, you never wait longer than three weeks for a custom. There are no phone calls two months after an order to find out Frankie’s in Baja and the board’s in the glasser. Plus, he’s young. While the reality of being a young shaper is gaining trust in their craft, at this point it’s hard to justify spending an excessive amount of cash for a surfboard you were hoping to get before your Indo trip in six weeks, only to learn it’s done when your plane lands. We are living in an age of young and hungry board builders. A new tech-savvy breed, who aren’t jaded from the old days, nor confused by personal PR platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and the internet–shapers who know customer experience and efficiency gain loyalty.
Where there’s hustle, the American Dream exists, and Frankie’s figured out how to shape it in America.
To check out Frankie’s shapes, and if you’d like to, put an order in here.
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