From Simple to Surfboards: Focusing on the Essential

“I was flipping through National Geographic or Smithsonian Magazine, something like that. People still read magazines back then. Anyway, I came across this ad for these shoes. It said something like, ‘If you love walking, you’ll love Simple.’”

Though surfboard shaper Andrew Saklas first encountered Simple via one of their signature minimalistic advertisements, he didn’t come across the physical shoes for a couple more years. It was around 1995, and he was working in New York City when he saw a pair of Simples in a store window. Remembering the advertisement, he walked right in and bought a pair.

These sneakers were unlike any Andrew had owned before. Not only were they a perfect fit and incredibly comfortable, but the design reminded him of something from the 40s or 50s, before every shoe style strived to be flashier than the last. He was also intrigued to wear a shoe from a lesser known brand. “I like to create my own path, and I felt Simple shared the same beliefs,” he reminisced about the brand’s indie roots.

20 years and a dozen pairs later, Andrew still lives by the ideals that attracted him to Simple in the first place. Andrew works from a small garage at his home in the beach town of Wanamassa, New Jersey, shaping and glassing surfboards. He believes in focusing on the essential and firmly subscribes to the adage “less is more.”

Andrew became attracted to the concept of shaping his own boards in 1997, shortly after he started surfing, and he honed his skills through trial and error (quite a lot of both, he admits). As Andrew’s interest in shaping grew into a passion, he founded the custom board company, GUNN Surfboards. Andrew fabricates every surfboard with his own two hands from start to finish, and he finds inspiration in knowing that he can bring joy to others through his own creative journey.

To Andrew, building boards means creating a connection between the rider and the ocean, and he notes that, no matter how beautiful a board may be, an innate chemistry, just like the one he felt with his first pair of Simples, must exist between the board and its rider.