For some, finding the perfect path in life can be as easy as taking a trip to the beach. Ryan Hervé knew instantly watching surfers at the age of nine, that this was what he would do with his life. A decision that has served him well as he is now the the owner of an established surfboard business that supplies Jersey, the UK and Europe. Once a surfing mecca, Jersey is now reclaiming some of its former glory as the sport grows in popularity and the community searches for new waters and the next great ride. For the dreamers amongst us, its comforting to know that maybe there really is something in the water.
Desperate to leave school, Ryan spent much of his education doodling board designs, waiting for the bell to sound so that he could hit the waves. “Back then surfing wasn’t as cool as it is now,” Ryan explains, “but for me it was addictive, I was hooked by the surge of adrenalin and that first taste of water in my mouth.” Ryan knew then that his dream was to work in the surf industry, surfing being one of the few times when he could lose himself, relax and become lost in the moment.
At the age of eighteen, Ryan opened his surfboard factory, making boards for friends and local surfers. Much of his success has been down to impressing people and growing his client base through reputation. “It’s a tough industry to break into,” Ryan explains, “I had to prove I could pump out good boards at the start and even now I am only just breaking into the French market.” Only from frequently travelling to France and embedding himself within their community has he been able to get a foot in the door, impressing them with his unique designs.
These designs have evolved over time into two distinct brands; the original Hervé hallmark which focuses on retro shapes, resin tints with gloss and polish finishes and Nutz surfboards, which have a more modern feel, using cutting edge materials to produce lightweight high performance surfboards. Talking about the current popularity of the Hervé brand Ryan remarks that “surfers just seem to want to embrace the old-school, retro feel at the moment so its all about looking back to what has got me here. I feel like I’ve gone full circle!”
Despite globe trotting, surfboard under arm, Jersey has always remained home for the surfer. “The heart of surfing in Europe seems to be moving,” explained Ryan. “It used to be regarded as in Hossegor, but now it is shifting to places like Peniche and Ericeira in Portugal. But I’m thrilled that Jersey is now starting to gain recognition on an international platform.” The Channel Islands have become their own governing body and this year attended their first ISA World event in Biarritz.
Surfing is a booming business and after twenty five years in the industry Ryan finally feels on the cusp of achieving great things. “Big brands may seduce people with their advertising, but there is no substitute for what I offer, which is a tailor-made, custom service.” Ryan works with his customers to create their vision, educating them along the way as to how their boards work in the water and accommodate each person’s height and weight.
For most of his life Ryan has worked single handedly and admits it can be challenging at times to find motivation. But he isn’t short of that at the moment with his wife set to give birth to their first child next month. “Right now I’m eager to grow the business as much as will be manageable for me, to provide for my family’s future.” Be sure to keep an eye on Jersey’s beaches, because I have a feeling Ryan Hervé is about to make some big ripples.
Photography: Sophie Winter Photography
Swimwear: The Surfyard
Check out the Nutz website here.