Moving West: The Inside Story of Our Workshop’s Relocation

In the beginning of March 2022, I woke up with a sudden idea of moving our workshop. I had no idea where exactly we would pop up, though obviously, it had to be a location blessed with waves, winds, plenty of sun, and ideally, water that didn’t freeze.

Ever since we began crafting boards, we’ve been asked dozens of times, “Why not relocate closer to the sea with all of this?”, but for some reasons we never took that seriously, until on a specific morning, I awoke and pondered, ‘Why not, actually?’ And thus, our journey commenced. 🙂

Firstly, it was crucial to realize that the questions ‘where?’ and ‘how?’ were tightly intertwined.

This wasn’t just about traveling or relocating people alone, but it was about re-establishing the workshop with all of its equipment, service, materials, supplies and logistics. About finishing the in-progress items in an old studio, and simultaneously starting other ones in a new workshop (well, at least that’s how we dreamt about it).

After several weeks of weighing our desired destination against its feasibility, we ultimately opted to apply for the StartUp Visa Portugal program.

We deemed Portugal to be an ideal haven to pursue our objectives:
  • This move would streamline logistics for both supplies and finished products, given that a majority of our materials and customers hail from Europe.
  • We’d gain access to the stunning Atlantic coast and vast inland waterways, providing opportunities for year-round exploration, photography, and enjoyment.
  • Lastly – and this excites me perhaps even more than the previous two points! – we’d be able to reach in person our customers, our friends and all the like-minded mates and truly become a part of this incredible community.

In short, after several months of intense paperwork followed by more months of anxious waiting, we were finally approved by IAPMEI – the Portuguese Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation, responsible for overseeing the StartUp Visa Program.

As the doors opened, we began sorting our tools and equipment into two categories: what to bring along and what to sell or donate. The second heap came to be much bigger than we wanted, but bringing everything to Portugal was too unreasonable due to shipping costs and customs clearance. Yet, leaving it behind was a challenge, considering the years invested in constructing the workshop processes step by step and refining every aspect, transforming board-building into both an art and a source of enjoyment. But you know what? With the experience and skill we have now, I’m pretty sure we’ll have even a better studio soon!

Upon arriving in Portugal, we promptly signed up with StartUp Leiria, a business incubator. They played a significant role in providing valuable support throughout the application process and aiding our transition to this new home. They are also in charge of getting us a new home for the workshop, thanks to their connection with Circular Campus industrial cowork.

Hopefully, our first Portuguese paddleboard will meet the water before winter arrives. Until that, we’ll be sharing glimpses from our photo and video archives (some of which are yet to be released). But one of our goals is to approach the next season fully equipped, so winter should be a hot time!

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