Shaun Neff starts toothpaste brand with Kendall Jenner: “I just riff on what’s in my head and it’s valuable!”

It's a great time to be a early 2000s surf industry scion!

There was a time in the surf industry’s history where anyone, and I mean anyone, could make money by starting a brand. I don’t know how or why just that it was true and I enjoy watching these men imagine it was their unique skill in “youth culture” and “rad” that led to their early 2000s riches in this the 18th year (and counting) of the surf industry apocalypse.

Shaun Neff is one of these men. The kinetic “guru” launched his eponymous brand Neff in 2002, selling a majority stake to a private equity firm a few years ago and now reveling in his position as a “brand whisperer” and shall we read some quotes from a new feature in Forbes highlighting his toothpaste collaboration with Kendall Jenner? We’d be horrible rude not to.

On high school: As a surfer and snowboarder, it was all about the brands that I felt represented my culture and what it meant the first day showing up in high school and what logo is going to be on my chest. There’s lots of options, but I had to make sure it was the right one that would represent who I am and what I do on the weekends.

On attending Brigham Young University: I was putting Neff stickers all over stop signs and I had the coolest guy at the skate park wearing it and the DJ at the party; I created this cool brand vibe in the college town.

On naming his brand “Neff”: I love that age of when you’re very entrepreneurial. It’s the time you don’t know enough and that naiveness of understanding what it takes to build a business and how you have to properly set it up and how many million things have to go right for it to catch on. I was just simple, even down to naming the brand. Bob Hurley used his last name, so I figured I’ll just use mine.

On his first trade show: I’m looking over at Burton and thinking oh that’s whack—they spent all that money and that’s not cool and I had all the cool kids and pro athletes hanging out at the Neff booth.

On being crazy dope famous: There was a good four or five years where I could not leave my house, whether I was dropping my kids off at school, going to the beach, going to work or getting on a flight, that I didn’t see my last name on someone. It was insane.

On life as a consultant after he sold his majority stake in Neff: I just riff on what’s in my head and it’s valuable and then they apply it to their whole business. That really triggered me to want to do more.

On his brain: That’s just who I am and my brain never stops—I can’t be walking anywhere and not think of a new business I would love to start and how to make it different.

On starting a toothpaste brand with Kendall Jenner: When a friend is coming over you hide your toothpaste, so the idea was let’s make something that looks beautiful on your shelf, that elevates your bathroom and really stands out.


It is a truly insightful article featuring many more gems and I hope you take the time to read, highlight, take to heart, meditate upon, recite, use at TED X talks.

I also wrote about Shaun Neff in the award skirting book Cocaine + Surfing (buy here). Would you like to read?

(The U.S. Open of Surfing riots) That might have been one of the funnier moments in surf history. Drunk white boys with Neff bandanas tied around their faces pushing over porta-potties and throwing stop signs through surf shop windows to steal more Neff bandanas. Neff might be the worst brand in all of surf. On the company website founder Shaun Neff is pictured standing like a gangster except wearing two different colored shoes, tight-black skinny jeans, some goofy Mickey Mouse T-shirt under a try-hard satin jacket and a black beanie above the words: “We are like a gumball machine; spitting out endless flavors for the world to consume…” I wonder what “endless flavor” Huntington Beach riot tastes like. Like generator exhaust, aerosol sunscreen, vape pen, spray paint, spray tan, spray cheese, sand particles probably.

Fucking Shaun Neff.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Pro surfer goes on dating show to spruik “whole range of surf boards emblazoned with the words she makes up!”

Introducing the "Fwoofed Off!"

I’ll admit, there are times that I get arrogantly complacent as a surf journalist. I spend my days and nights thinking about surf, writing about surf, talking about surf, surfing, watching surfing etc. and fall into the ugly trap of imagining that I am at least vaguely aware of every single thing happening under surfing’s sun.

But how could one man hold all the surfing wonders in himself? All the magical bits and bobs? It is impossible and egotistical and I am therefore happy when The Universe kicks my hubris by offering some surf business of which I have never heard. Never even imagined. And allow me to introduce you to professional surfer Lucie Donlan who stars on British dating show Love Island but not for the reasons you’d think and let’s get right into the article. Let’s go straight to The Mirror.

She’s the sexy surfer from Newquay who’s got all the boys chasing her.

But Lucie Donlan has revealed her real reason for entering Love Island – and it’s got nothing to do with the chaps.

The 21 year old started surfing when she was 13 and makes her money through surf modelling.

And she admits she’s got big hopes of having a whole range of surf boards emblazoned with the words she makes up.

“I do make up weird words. They will be coming out this summer,” she tells The Mirror.

“There is ‘Bev’ which is like hot. ‘My Bev’ is – he is nearly my boyfriend. ‘Schnag’ is like when you bite at someone like your boyfriend – when you are like – just stop doing that… you schnag at them.

“‘Fwoofed off’ is when he dumps you. There are loads of them. I just made them up. My family use it now and my friend use it too. It carries on to people. You might be shocked. There might be some you end up using. Maybe there will surf boards adorned with these words. That would be cool.”

I can only hope Jon Pyzel is reading right now or even Matt Biolos. Speaking of, quickly, how much gloating do you think Pyzel does in front of Biolos after his John John beat Biolos’s Kolohe on what would have to be deemed superior equipment seeing that Kolohe had closed the power gap between he and John earlier in the year?

What sort of gloating? Passive? Aggressive? Humorous? Kind?

What sort of gloating will Biolos return when Lost inks Donlan to an exclusive distribution deal and the Bev, Schnag and Fwoofed Off outsell Pyzel’s Ghost two to one?

Oh, I know. Taciturn gloating. It’s the only mood the man has.

EJ Coffey, popping like a fireworks display.

Queer fever: Surf Star flies rainbow flag!

Ellie-Jean Coffee gleams a diamond white amid the dull fluorescence of heterosexuality…

It ain’t easy being a gay man, which I can report from experience. I’ve been shouted at, run after and called a faggot on more occasions than I can remember. I got ambiguous fashion sense, I think.

Our gay brothers got it tough.

Women, on the other, hand are gifted the freedom to explore the entire rainbow spectrum.

Recently, the Gold Coast surfer, Ellie-Jean Coffey, made an important announcement to her one million followers, and which you can see below.


The comments were pleasingly supportive.

The Instagram model, Noni Janur, who illustrated her comment with a row of love heart emojis, was met with a two-word response from Coffey.

“Date me.”

Now, let’s imagine, mmmmm, I don’t know, let me pull a name out of the hat, a man’s man, Craig Anderson, say.

If Craig dressed up in a sheer rainbow t-shirt that showed the pleasing curve of his plumb-like breasts,  posted it on Instagram and then suggested one of his more handsome followers yank down his jeans, do you think the response would be uniformly favourable?

And, if not, why not?

As men, why do we cower from a strong hand? A stubbled chin?

An immodest proposal: Let non-surfers judge professional surfing on an infinite scale!

A perfect solution!

And another professional surf contest is in the bag, tied shut, stored in a cool, dry place. Margaret River had its moments no doubt. That day at The Box? I don’t think professional surfing gets better than that. A John John win? Ballyhooed on a certain continent but the right man stood alone at the end. Still, ballyhooed and why? I think it is because the judges have painted themselves into a corner. We expect perfection on each score and we also expect the right surfer to win which leads to a heat like John John v. Caio Ibelli.

Now, it was clear that John John was the better surfer in that semifinal. His turns had more oomph. More of the undefinable elements that make us feel and yet the judges are locked in a garden of numbers and analysis, trying to attach arbitrary points scientifically. John John was better and barely won, the margin so slim that it should have been called a draw.

I could sense the judges cracking this contest, coming undone. That Italo 8.17 on the clearest 10 of the year, acrobatic, incredible, inhuman. The lowball was shocking but makes sense for the men in the booth are now too good and can’t see the forest for the trees. They see numbers and attach them properly but those numbers aren’t properly reflective of what we’re seeing or, more importantly, what we’re feeling.

How to fix?

Let non-surfing, never-even-seen-the-ocean folk judge our contests and give them an infinite scale. These non-surfers will get the right winner every time because they won’t be fighting against the numbers. They’ll be free to judge spinners, tacos (what my six-year-old calls barrels) and big wipeouts however they feel and honestly without thinking about precedent or wave comparison or any other arbitrary nonsense.

There was so much talk about leaving headroom in the damn scale this year but why does it need headroom? Why not continue to blow through until heats are being scored in the millions?

We’ve made it all so fussy and complex but better surfing is easy to spot and easier to understand. It’s the moments that make a heart beat faster and I wonder if the World Surf League would attract the masses they want by actually synching winners with performance.

What do you think about that? Tell me how it won’t work.

Surfing’s Grand Inflection Point: How everything you love will soon shine only for the VAL!

(If if doesn't already!)

Social scientists and computer scientists aren’t exactly sure when it happened but both agree that the Internet is now more fake than real. Fake “people,” fake algorithmic views/clicks/likes, fake analytics, fake everything and let’s turn to William Finnegan’s magazine The New Yorker quickly for substance.

How much of the internet is fake? Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot. For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people,” a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event “the Inversion.”

This is problematic but doesn’t concern us much here in our walled garden. OttoBeenThere you’re real. Right? Absolutely no way a bot could spew Wiggolly’s Paddling Style-esque filth. Right?


We have our own troubles. After much research (surfing and being a surf journalist), I have concluded that 95% of the surfing public is now officially VAL which is the highest percentage in recorded history. What does this mean? I have no idea except that surf companies will likely up production of wide-brim’d sun hats and cut production of cool water surf wax. Also, now that we’re so far past the inflection point we’re going to start seeing “cool” surf characters being introduced in mainstream film and television. “Cool” devil may care surf characters in reef booties and surf sunglasses throwing “shakas” and driving Jeep Wranglers.

Or wait.

That happened years ago but still we’re even further past the inflection point than we were years ago so I honestly don’t know except that VALs will now be serving up content and product for other VALs just like internet bots are serving up content and product for other internet bots therefore changing the very idea of “reality.”

Will you accept this inertia or will you rage, rage against the dying of the light?