Once a corporate warrior working the daily nine-to-five grind, Sydneysider Angus Boyd is living the dream having transformed his passion for surfing into a full time job.
His brand of wetsuits, Flatrock, are in his humble opinion the best wetsuits on the market, and they're quickly being nabbed up by the top tiers of the surfing community around the world.
A love for surfing
Boyd spent most of his childhood scouring Bondi to Bronte for the best surf spots – as most locals do – and checking surf shops for the latest gear.
Working in the banking sector for ten years was a far stretch from the nonchalant nature of surfing and its community, but for Boyd, somehow he knew he would always end up back in the ocean; or doing something for it.
It wasn't until a surfing trip to the Mentawais Islands in 2016 that the idea of Flatrock was born – a local wetsuit manufacturer that aims to fill a gap left by tycoons at the top of the chain.
"On a surfing trip a few years back, I just couldn't purchase what I needed in terms of surfing gear. All the big brand wetsuit options were of poor quality or didn't fit properly. So, I said to myself that one day I would produce a wetsuit of much better quality and the journey started from there," says Angus Boyd.
"So, yeah, the idea of Flatrock was spearheaded by fact that options for a good, reliable wetsuit today are few and far between; it's actually quite disappointing."
Riding the wave of success
Fast forward three years, Flatrock is now run by Boyd and his two brothers, making a product that not only rivals what is available on the market, but doing so in a sustainable and eco-friendly way - and locals are all for it.
Flatrock comes from the name of a rock that Boyd and his brothers would swim off as kids at North Bondi.
"First and foremost, surfers want high quality, enduring products that will stand the test of time. Because at the end of the day, surfing is more than just a sport; it's a life-long passion," says Boyd.
"I have a fondness for the big surfing brands that were favourites as a kid. But as they've grown bigger, it seems the quality of their wetsuits has declined. This might be due to a number of factors, but we're [Flatrock] ensuring that we take our time with each and every product we make, putting it through all the necessary testing and only using the finest neoprene - we care about the little details."
Like a second skin
So what makes Flatrock different to other products on the market? First and foremost, it's made using the best Japanese limestone neoprene available – one that never tears or disintegrates like so many others can do. In fact, it's that good that each wetsuit also comes with a lifetime warranty even though you probably won't need it.
But it's the comfort and mobility factor of Flatrock that is giving surfers the biggest edge in the water.
"We threw the mould out when it came to the design of our wetsuits because we wanted to create a wetsuit that is not only the softest and comfiest you can buy, but that fits perfectly," says Boyd.
"We're so adamant that our wetsuits will be perfect that we offer free returns for 100 days, which just isn't done."
Giving back to the planet
One of the biggest focuses of the company is to contribute back to the health of the environment they so love. For every wetsuit sold, the Flatrock crew plant a tree.
"If we don't start making changes right now, our kids are going to miss out on so much of the natural world that we've enjoyed. The diversity of marine life in Australia is something that every surfer cherishes and so we need to do everything we can to protect it," says Boyd.
"We do our bit by planting a tree for every wetsuit sold. We achieve this by donating to 'One Tree Planted,' and by hosting tree planting days ourselves. Our last tree planting day was in Narrabeen, NSW."
The future looks bright for this young Aussie brand making a splash in its niche market, and locals from the local surfing communities are getting right behind its product.
"We are working on creating a wetsuit recycling program where we'll re-purpose customer's old wetsuits into fun new products," explains Boyd.
"Long-term, we want Flatrock to be seen as an organisation that whole-heartedly supports grass roots surfing in Australia and the community groups associated with it."