The life of Argentian entrepreneur Sebastian Grazzini has been inextricably linked with sport since his childhood in Buenos Aires. A skier, wakeboarder, mountain biker and surfer, he qualified for the X-Games in Ski Cross and Extreme Ski as an adult. When he settled in Denver, Co, he took up martial arts an won an international Tae Kwon-do tournament in Las Vegas. After falling in love with stand up paddle on the rivers and lakes of Aspen and eventually moving to Mexico on the Riviera Maya, he turned his passion for sport and adventure into the basis for his livelihood and founded the SUP brand Cala or CalaBoards, an inflatable board brand which now sells throughout the US and Europe.
Hi Sebastian, can you please introduce yourself to the TotalSUP readers and detail your entrepreneur and sports background?
My name is Sebastian Grazzini, from Argentina. I am a former pro skier and martial arts gold medalist. When I was not skiing, training or doing rehab in some hospital from my injuries, I used to surf and paddleboard as a way to enjoy life, stay active and recharge my batteries.
When and how was the brand Cala Boards born? Where does the name come from? Why focus on inflatable boards only?
Cala started in 2017, after a huge seaweed spread in the Caribbean. With my old paddle board I had to go far from the coast, in the middle of the ocean to be able to swim in clear waters. Lots of people asked me to borrow the board to do the same thing. That’s how the idea to start doing something in the Stand Up Paddle field began. My passion for sports, water and the underwater helped me grasp the idea and Cala started shaping up.
The name Cala comes from the first names Camilo and Lara, my godson and goddaughter. With a little mistake on my part. Camilo and Jaime are twin brothers, the two sons of my youngest brother. For 3 months I thought that my godson was Camilo, and that’s why I used his name, but I found out later, that I was the godfather of his brother Jaime. That was too late. So now I have to do something special for Jaime (it is on the way by the way!).
I love inflatables for many reasons. Transportatability of course, as I have been able to take up to 3 boards with me on my vacations in a car, but also wearing a board on my back while driving, biking or skating, without any problem. Then, safety and technology. Now inflatables use an amazing technology and materials are super hard and durable. At least the ones we use within our boards.
How would you describe the philosophy behind the brand and how do you adapt your marketing to match your values?
Enjoy life to the fullest, take care of the environment, and be kind to everything and everybody.
Cala is a lifestyle brand, it is about how you face your everyday life, your challenges, and setbacks. Like water, we have to adapt to everything that comes to us.
We use eco-friendly materials in our dry bags, EVA Deck that purify water and co2. We are also working on a new recycle material to produce all our boards. We partner up with different NGOs to help restores coral reefs, organize beach clean-ups, educate on how we can make and be the change in this planet, restore balance in the environment and in our lives living in harmony. Also, and very importantly, one of our core values is to explore this amazing planet that we have and actively improve our quality of life.
What can you say about the construction and technology applied to your iSUPs?
Our HDX construction technology is one of the best out there now. The X-woven drop stitch is the stiffest and lighter material to build a board. These 2 combined make Cala boards the stiffest and lightest boards in the market when we measure up against top quality brands. We also partner up with Bloom to make our EVA Deck pads. It is made out of seaweed and algae. Each board purify 450 liters of water and also purify the air by changing co2 into o2.
Which board is your best-seller? Any idea why?
Kanaloa and Ikatere are our two best-selling boards. No clue why. I guess that people like the design or what they see on the board. The new 2022 models are going to be amazing.
What paddle comes with a Cala Board?
Thank you for asking! Newbies don’t realize that at first but a very important part of the paddling experience with a new board is what paddle comes with the board. To be the best brand in the market and the most reliable one too, we have to use the best materials. Our paddles, starting in 2022 are going to be full-carbon made with a 1-piece handle. This , I guarantee, will give you a fantastic paddle experience.
Where are you distributing and what is your distribution model? Where do you have a brick-and-mortar presence? What is your pricing strategy?
We have distribution centers in the US and Europe, and our main markets today are Miami, California and Texas. We have opened distribution centers in those states and have partnerships in different locations. In Europe, our main hub is in Germany with a huge presence there, and the brand is becoming popular in France, Spain and all around the Mediterranean sea. Our idea is for everybody to have access to Calaboards gear wherever they are, close to their homes and experience this amazing sport. Our price strategy is to offer the best quality board at the best price possible, so we need to be reachable to everybody, that is why our prices are the best quality-value.
What are the upcoming stages of development for the brand?
We want to develop our brand awareness worldwide, and therefore our plan is to see a Cala board in every corner of this planet. We are also looking for partners and distributors so we can grow together with other watersport entrepreneurs. Also, we want to stay open to new ideas. One of the them is to develop hotel hubs in every continent, so wherever you are, you are going to have a friend waiting to paddle with you and show you all the local secret places and share experiences. That is what and who we are.
Thank you Sebastian! See you soon on the water!