Invent: to take nothing and turn it into something.
Innovate: To take that something and improve it significantly.
The surfboard leash was invented by Jack O’neill’s son Pat, a Californian. And its most recent innovation has been crafted by Jan Pearson, a Swede – he is from, and currently lives in, Sweden, where he surfs often, in a part of the world bordered by Finland and Norway, often dodging blocks of ice like crowds of surfers. It is fucking cold in his corner of the world. But there are waves. Fun ones.
During Jan’s early travels that didn’t involve dodging baby glaciers that can destroy boards and bodies, he noticed that while other parts of the planet don’t have ice cubes in the lineup they do contain other things that float.
These things couldn’t kill you, but they could kill animals, and Jan imagined, could eventually threaten humanity.
It was plastic that he saw bobbing up and down in these lineups… Trash. Other waste. And it inspired him to found Revolwe.
Jan used his new company as a laboratory for innovation. He started with surfboard bags, flasks, and other accessories. He saw each product as an opportunity to innovate through reduced environmental impact, and what impressed us was his leg rope.
It was simple. No frills. No attempts to technically innovate something that didn’t need a performance innovation (because leashes have performed fine for years). He did not add to the common leash. He instead took away from it.
He lowered the carbon footprint of the cuff by 80% by using Yulex, a plant-based rubber.
He crafted ankle and board attachments using recycled plastic bottles.
He ensured that the chord would consist of at least 30% recycled urethane content.
We shared this with Kelly Slater. We sent him Jan’s leashes. Kelly used them. He traveled and surfed them for months. They never broke. Kelly wanted in.
And the Slater Designs Leash was born, now at surf shops everywhere.
In this episode, we enjoy a conversation with Jan about the process that led him here.