Born and raised in Whittier, Calif., 26-year-old surfing enthusiast Dustin Balke has created a one-man business. Balke started a line of surfboards and apparel called Coastal Collective and has since been running it on his own.
Prior to graduating from Cal State Fullerton in 2013 and receiving his degree in studio art, Balke had been thinking about what he wanted to do post graduation. The idea of creating his own surfboards came to him as a perfect combination of his passion for creative art and surfing. From that he created Coastal Collective.
Originally, Balke began by making his boards in his backyard. Eventually he added shirts into the mix, explaining that they go hand in hand. In the words of Balke, “Not everyone could buy a surfboard, but everyone can pay a couple bucks for a shirt.”
Balke was interested in hands-on work and has always had a creative side. He explains Coastal Collective to be a collective group of artistic endeavors.
Although Coastal Collective is not a big name, it’s a very exclusive line in the local surf world. Thanks to friends, Coastal Collective has grown by word of mouth. Balke shared that people just saw his surfboards being used and more and more people wanted them, which has led him to working out of Huntington Beach. With more and more people wanting Coastal Collective boards and apparel Balke has been motivated to keep creating.
Unlike other manufacturers who mass produce, Coastal Collective has a lot more character. “I take a lot of pride in making my own things,” said Balke.
He creates, designs and builds surfboards all on his own. He makes sure that everything that goes out with the Coastal Collective logo is the best quality for his customers.
Having a passion for surfing and a degree in arts, creativity hasn’t been a problem for him. Creating a logo was probably one of the easiest parts for starting his line. Lacking a business background created some obstacles for Balke when starting up this project. However, after obtaining a business license and whole sale license he began to self teach.
Balke learned to create and run his website for Coastal Collective. He has also learned to take care of the legal aspects of running a business. Along the way he has been grateful to learn from other businesses, like Foam E-Z in Westminster, that acted as a mentor.
Coastal Collective is currently only available for purchase online, however Balke would like to see the brand grow and become more popular while maintaining the quality he has now. His vision for Coastal Collective is to be sold in local surf shops and not in big retail stores.
“When it’s in my hands I can be the quality check. I don’t want to be putting out stuff that I wouldn’t surf or wear,” said Balke.
If Coastal Collective were to be in retail stores it would be almost impossible to have one person doing all the production. What sets Coastal Collective apart from many surf lines is that it’s a personable brand. It’s pretty hard to find companies that produce within the country yet alone in local cities.
Customers are able to see their orders being processed on the Coastal Collective Instagram (@CoastalCollective). Balke likes to post what’s being made for all his customers to see.
Balke offers a word of encouragement for all entrepreneurs, “do what you love to do and people will notice that and recognize it.”