We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephen White and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephen, what do you attribute your success to?
Having an amazing team and providing the best customer service possible! When I first met my wife I told her we make a great team. She had her MBA and I had the passion and love for surfing and the ocean. We both were entrepreneurs and interested in starting something. We put our backgrounds together and created Fun Surf LA. We started as a team of two giving a few surf lessons and sharing our passion and love for the ocean to having big group lessons, corporate events, charity work for kids and contracting several surf instructors during peak season. We believe having a team that is supportive, cohesive, respectful, and share the same love for the ocean is the most important factor which helped us to become one of the most popular and highly rated surf school in Los Angeles. We also pay a lot of attention to our marketing strategy and branding trying to have our equipment not only being high quality but also aesthetically pleasing. Our clients enjoy taking Instagram pictures in front of our cool looking surf school bus with bright lollipop colored surfboards. Overall I would say the most important factor behind any business success is clients’ satisfaction and so far we’ve done well.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We started with Fun Surf LA surf school and in a couple years after that one got established we began our expansion. We bought a few vintage VW vans that are used for various tours as well as motion picture productions, video and photoshoots. Our company offers surf tours along the coast, day Malibu surf tours and Malibu sightseeing tours with wine tasting. We also got a few kayaks and standup paddle boards to add another water activity for those who are not ready to try surfing. After all the hard work that we put in to establish and grow our business the pandemic hit us really hard. So now are the most challenging times for us with boarders closed and tourism being highly impacted by the coronavirus. As many other companies we stayed closed for a few months which was our pick season and now business is almost non existing. It seems likely to stay the same in the foreseeable future therefore we decided to pivot and create another business. We will be still using our equipment but move to a different direction away from tourism. Right now we’re transforming our fully electric VW bus into a mobile coffee shop which should be ready by the end of the year. With this new business we are focusing not only on quality but also on the impact on the environment. Our agenda is to make it as eco-friendly as possible. I would say the main lesson we’ve learned with this current situation is to not put all the eggs in one basket even though I appreciate tourism and want to share my passion and love for the ocean and nature by providing different exciting experiences.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m more of an outdoor person and enjoy mother nature. First of all I would blow their mind by taking them for a surf and turf trip. We would catch a few waves in the morning and have a night snowboard session in Big Bear in the evening the same day. I would for sure take them to one of our Malibu sightseeing tours in a vintage VW van so they can ride along the most picturesque coastline in California. We would go to Point Dume and to all the little hidden vineyards in Santa Monica mountains. Another cool place for outdoor activity where we take our guests to kayak and paddle board is Marina del Rey marina where you can spot sea lions and observe cool boats and vessels. If they are into surfing, I would definitely show them the best surf spots in Los Angeles – breakwater in Venice is the best location for skilled surfers, Sunset is a good mellow beginner spot off the PCH and Malibu has the iconic point breaks near the pier. And if they never surfed before I would invite them to take a beginner lesson from our Fun Surf LA surf school either in Venice or Santa Monica. Since I spend most of my time by the beach the majority of the places I usually go to are located in that area. One of my favourite breakfast places is Gjusta in Venice – their food is great, for sushi I love Irori in Marina del Rey – they always have the freshest and best tasting fish. The best pizza is Italian owned D’amores in Malibu, the best poke – Ocean Front Kitchen, a small place in Venice right by the ocean. If it’s cold outside or you just want to feel warm and cozy inside then Camp Pho on Lincoln is the best place around for pho. Malibu Farms on the pier is also a cool place with a great ocean view and if they want to enjoy a glass of wine in a comfy place with fresh ocean breeze I would take them to Rosenthal wine tasting located on Pacific Coast Highway.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to my wife Marina Mukanova. She is the one who encouraged me to start this business and became the brain behind it. She has years of experience in public relations and marketing and along with her masters in business it helped a lot with growing our company.
The first main photo with the red bus is by Natalya Minnullina ( IG – @tasha.minn)