The Jungle Story
Jungle Longboards as a brand is a baby, but as an idea has been knocking around for 20 years or so. Founded on the core ideals of creativity, having fun in the great outdoors and environmentalism, we create beautiful handmade boards from eco-conscious materials.
The catalyst for taking longboarding as a passion to making longboards as a career came on finding out that the skate industry is now the leading cause of Maple deforestation in North America. After a couple of years doing odd jobs for start ups in the industry I decided it was now time to venture out on my own, to try and find a solution to the problem and maybe find a way of doing things a little bit differently.
I am Sam, an arts and crafts person & occasional conservation volunteer based in London, with a degree in Fine Art from the Cass in Whitechapel. As a lifelong extreme sports enthusiast and with my creative background it was almost inevitable that I would end up making boards at some point!
Over the past 4 years I have gained all sorts of experience, including painting pop art on handbags, making leather fashion accessories, designing prints for apparel, illustration and little bits of product design - all great experience and a lot of fun but I decided it was time to start working for myself!
When I'm not working I'm usually found skating, barbecuing, going on adventures, or finding a way to combine all of the above!
Developing the Idea:
From the get-go it was essential to me to find a way to work with sustainable materials - the environmental aspects obviously play a huge role, but beyond that there is something I really love about the challenge of taking a waste product and turning it into something new. I probably watched far too much Scrap Heap Challenge as a kid! So the process started with a ton of rummaging around reclamation yards, sniffing out good bits of wood, then taking them home to start playing around with shape ideas.
(I wonder if the Victorian builders ever thought that one day someone would be ripping up their library flooring, bolting some wheels on it and bombing down a hill...)
Gradually the idea started to solidify - shapes became a bit more functional, I started to think about decoration (the wood grain is great but I needed something to make it pop!), and frankly I wanted to make a board with some contours and bit more flex, so I moved into vacuum pressing and taught myself marquetry! Now I have a product I am proud of, a good range of boards I can make and sell, so the job now is to start making and selling full time, investing in new board ideas further down the line!
Jungle Longboards is committed to creating boards in as eco-friendly a way as possible - at the moment this is only possibly through the choice of materials used, which is done by ensuring that only FSC Certified veneers or reclaimed wood are used in the production of my boards. (Even the offcuts for the face sheets are FSC Certified!) Through only using local sources of wood I am also supporting other local businesses, social enterprises, and keeping my carbon footprint (and delivery costs) as low as possible by not importing my materials from halfway across the world!
The Maple Policy: Given the extent of the deforestation caused by the industry, coupled with the results of a 2009 study by the Botanic Gardens Conservation International organisation which found that a third of all Maple species face extinction in their natural habitat, it seems irresponsible to rely solely on Canadian Maple for the construction of my boards - this is why I do not. There are times however where Maple may become available that would otherwise be scrapped, and in these circumstances I would rather see it be put to good use than go to waste, and will use it in the most efficient way possible.
Plans for the future:
Currently my main plan, for the end of year one, is to start investing in creating a board out of entirely re-sawn veneers cut from reclaimed wood. The dream behind this plan is to be able to create a board with all the same great strength and flex properties, plus the kicks/concaves/camber of a standard deck without having felled a single tree or reinforced it with fibreglass and plastic-based resins.
In two to three years time, or as money allows, I hope to shift my attention to tackling another environmental hazard: plastic waste. Public awareness for this issue is constantly increasing, and as it does so so is the tech involved in collecting and recycling waste plastics, and this is something I would love to find an application for when it comes to my brand. As it is however far more costly than upcycling waste wood it is currently in the pipe-dream stage of planning.