We had the good fortune of connecting with Lucas Coleman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lucas, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Before I began Calibunga, I had years of experience working for other schools. Most of them focused on one & done lessons for tourists that never anticipated paddling out a second time. I realized (slowly) that there was a market for people interested in becoming surfers with a consistent coach to help them each week, picking up where the last session left off. No one in Los Angeles was doing that. I also became aware that when people are on vacation they don’t have any idea where to go or how to navigate the chaos of Los Angeles beaches. So the more I helped people figure that out and take on some of their burdens, the more I thought damn, someone should start a school that makes it easy for people. That eventually became Calibunga.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When it comes to extreme sports, which our team does a lot of, it’s easy to feel like you’re just being moved down the line. For example, I once bungee-jumped from a crane at the county fair. It was fun, but you just stand in line for half an hour, strap in, and fly off. Most things are like that nowadays and I don’t find there to be anything special about conveyor belt experiences. So we decided to make the experience all about the surfer. You in the water with a coach who is asking you questions and focusing on all of your personal and unique strengths and challenges. By the end of the session, you walk away with something you didn’t have before you started. Sometimes that’s a memory or a tighter bond with the person you took a lesson with. For others, it’s confidence or a sense of euphoria. Whatever it is, we do everything we can to get you there. I think that’s our brand. It’s not about us… It’s about you. You wear our funny little octopus shirts as a way of saying, “I do things my way.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is easy because my mom was just out for a visit and I planned an awesome week for her. It was somewhat limited due to COVID but we were still able to dine at The Smoke House, a great steakhouse by the warner brothers lot. We walked around Santa Monica’s Mainstreet area. Had morning coffee in Topanga Canyon at the Topanga Living Cafe which has an excellent patio and some of the best coffee. We didn’t have the time but I always like taking friends to a drive-in movie. There’s always something sentimental about that.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I owe a lot to the San Diego YMCA Surf Program. When I was 9 years old, both of my parents worked all day so during summer when school was out I needed somewhere to go. The YMCA had this little surf camp in La Jolla Shores ( what locals call “Scrips”). I would get dropped off there every day and spent it mostly in the water and making friends with other surfers. It was a great resource for me and it’s doubtful any of this would exist without it.