THE INFO JOURNAL — Cam Greenwood
Founder Monsta Surf
Tell us about your journey from leaving school until now?
I finished year 12 in 2011 and christmas that year I had this dream to start a surf brand. I wanted to be able to create a platform that could influence and inspire the world and I wanted to do this by creating surfboards. So I asked my parents if I could make one surfboard in my backyard and they said yes, probably not knowing the intention behind this one surfboard. It all started with just a burning passion to do what I loved, so with a piece of paper and a pencil I drew out my initial thoughts for the brand. I then started googling how to make surfboards, watching tutorials and eventually bought myself a big block of foam and some tools. I then cleared out the shed in our backyard and started crafting my first surfboard. I still remember walking inside when I had finished this first surfboard with the Monsta Logo on the board, walking higher than I have ever walked before, being super proud over my creation and knowing that this was going to be something I was going to do for a long, long time.
Later that year I was on a missions trip to the Kuruma Childrens home in Kenya. I went there to be a blessing to the kids, but found my own life was transformed throughout the trip and the kids were the real blessing to me. Hearing their stories and to see that they had true joy and that they didn’t have much at all, but they really had peace in their life. I realised life is really quite simple and we just over complicate it here in the western world.
Later in that trip I went on a safari in the Massomara in Kenya, and I was just star gazing, reflecting on the trip. At the time back home I was in a sports science degree and not fully passionate about what I was doing. I had an interest in sports but it was not something I could see myself being fulfilled in for the rest of my life. So reflecting on my trip, in the middle of Kenya, I just realised that I really wanted to be able to create this hobby of mine into a business that could give back and specifically to the kids that I had met whilst at the children’s home.
I then came home from Kenya super inspired to turn this passion into a business and throughout 2013 I saved up my money from my part time job and started researching how to bring out clothing. Researching different suppliers, screen printing and everything to do with clothing to then developing a pre-order. I put up about a years worth of my wage into this pre-order and on the 3rd October 2013 MonstaSurf.com went live to the world and we had an amazing response, having created a following from my surfboards which lead to a crazy initial hype. Christmas came along and we had some good sales and then by January 2014 it just completely stopped, hardly getting any orders at all. It got to a stage where I wanted to quit, I wanted to give up, I put 2 years of blood, sweat and tears into this dream and it seemed like it was going nowhere.
This one afternoon I was getting really down on it so I went for a run just processing all my thoughts, got back feeling really determined to take it to the next level and get it off the ground. I realised that this was not just a random passion of mine that was going to die, I had to give it a crack and I had to make it work. So I stayed up all night working out how I was going to turn it into a beast of momentum; re-designed the website, brought out some new products, did a pretty epic visual campaign and lots of other things that rolled out over the next month and from February 2014 onwards we kept growing really quickly. I am a really excitable person so as soon as I had this kind of momentum I deferred my university degree, booked a trip to china and ended up being there for six weeks developing some awesome relationships with a few fair trade factories. I then came home with a new range developed and was home for a few weeks before heading back to Kenya with some of the profits we had made in our first year of business. I took them to the children’s home and met with the founding lady of the home and told her she inspired me to start this business and I wanted to be able to give back to them. So I asked how she thought the funds could be best used and she was obsessed with this idea of a fish farm, so we looked into it together and 3 weeks later I left the home with this amazing fish farm created. The fish farm holds 4000 fish and is self sustainable meaning they can sell 2000 and eat 2000 and the revenue keeps it going. Last year I had a team which went and built the second fish farm, plus we have been able to do other projects as well which is awesome.
Since then we have Monsta Surf HQ, our concept store and we have been growing pretty rapidly into the world. We are in 30 countries now thanks to our creative team that spans throughout Australia and we have some awesome dreams and visions for where we want to go and what we want to do and I absolutely love it!
What decisions have you made that define you today?
I think by following my passion and aligning my life and the choses that I make with what I’m passionate about has ultimately defined who I am today. For example transferring university degrees. I was in sports science and then realised I was really passionate about turning my hobby into a business so I transferred into commerce after my first year of university. Just last year I actually dropped out of my university degree because Monsta became my absolute oxygen and it was everything I was putting my time and energy into and I had that momentum behind me. So just following my passion to drop out of uni has defined where I am today. So following my passion has dictated the path I take.
What are the three truths that you have found that are consistent with everything in life which have contributed to your success?
Live your passion — So I got into surfboards because I was really passionate about surfing and it was what I loved to do. I was always really interested in the design behind surfboards and ultimately went into it because it was a passion on mine which flowed into my passion for the clothing. With ever product or move the business has made is me following my passion. Sometimes I get asked what goes into the design of my clothes and its just what I want to wear. So just living my passion has help get through roadblocks and the difficult times when it seems like an easy option to just give up.
Dream and have a vision — I have always been a dreamer and had a crazy vision for my life and my business. I think that there is something pretty epic about living your life with a crazy dream thats so much bigger than you. Monsta has now expanded to 30 countries and growing, it has become this thing that is so much greater than me. When ever we make it to the next mile stone, there is always the next crazy vision and it really helps us to have that momentum and motivation to keep going, day after day.
Embrace the wild — It is something that I have been obsessed on, this idea of exploring new territories and not being afraid to step out into the unknown. I do truly believe that for young people, if they want to be successful in their life and in the world that they really have to be able to step out into uncomfortable and unknown situations. My whole journey has been one of over coming fear, insecurities, inexperiences and being told I’m too young to be doing things. By embracing the wild I have be able to really grasp the challenge and be able to step pass all these challenges and fears. I like to think of business and my journey as being on the edge of a cliff and a lot of the time I don’t know how I am going to sore if I leap off this cliff and I just have to have the courage to really embrace the wild and step out and learn how to fly on the way down. If you don’t have that courage to just take that initial step, then you’ll never learn how to get to where you want to go.
What is your secret to pushing through the tough times?
Having an incredible why behind why I was doing it. Ultimately at Monsta it is our vision to use it as a platform to positively influence the world and we do that through the way we run our business. In our marketing we are all about living passionately, it is really lived and breathed throughout all our social media channels and even on our products and through the Monsta foundation where we give back. So having an incredible why behind why we do what we do helps me to wake up every morning with a purpose. I feel inspired to take on all the challenges and when we face roadblocks and problems, having that why really defines why we continue.
When it comes to your business/work life, finish this sentence “I regret…?”
I find this hard to answer, because I truly regret nothing in life because I am super grateful for where I am today and where the business is. I understand that everything in my journey has helped shape me into who I am today and it has got me here, so I am grateful for that. If I had my time over I would say that having a business mentor in the early days would of helped me to not grow too quickly too early and to help make decisions I probably wouldn’t of made. Also in my personal life, I should of given more time for myself and anyone who is passionate about their business and growing it will know it really does consume your life and I have really worked on it 24/7. I love what I do and I have an incredible lifestyle, I wouldn’t change any of it but there has been times where I have probably burnt myself out by working to hard and not switching off.
Knowing what you know today, what would you tell 18 year old you?
I would tell 18 year old Cam to live his life as an expression of whats in his soul. When I was 18 I was pretty shy and not very confident. I felt like I was constricted to a box which was my career paths and I wasn’t really sold on what I had gone into uni for and I kind of felt like there has got to be something more to what I want to do with my life. So I would tell myself to really follow my passion and that life when you are 18, you have the rest of you life in front of you and it really is a blank canvas. If you can live your life as an expression of whats in your sole, you will be able to create a beautiful work of art that will become your life. Ultimately that is what I have been able to do through Monsta but it definitely took some time for me to really understand that. I would of loved to of heard that back then and it would of helped me push pass doubts and fears earlier instead of learning them the hard way.
What is one habit that has contributed to your success?
The habit would be that I have kept putting myself out there, or as I like to call it, embracing the wild. I have been so obsessed about that idea lately, an idea that I think everyone faces in their life where they come to the edge of whatever that may be to them. For most of us it is the edge of our abilities, the edge of our experience and the list goes on. Society loves to tell us that we don’t belong pass this edge and for me there have been so many times where I have wanted to run the opposite way and I have found it scary to put myself out there. It is scary to chase after your dreams, it is super daunting, but I am reminded that in order to move ourselves and the world forward in life you need to be a pioneer and a pioneer is someone who explores new territories and who isn’t afraid of this uncommon ground. So by putting myself out there and embracing the wild I have been able to take this leap over and over again, over the edge of whatever may be holding me back in that situation and that has really helped me to break pass my fears, insecurities and my doubts and it has lead me to where I am today.
Follow Cam’s journey