Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Letting the cat out of the bag - Vagabond Kayaks

Yes, yes, yes! I can finally tell you.

We launched our new kayak company yesterday - Vagabond Kayaks. What an adventure this has been already and the real adventure actually begins now.

Celliers and I have been working towards creating Vagabond Kayaks for a long time - at first only just in our minds and dreams. His passion is kayaking and kayak design. There is a good reason that he is regarded as one of the best kayak designers in the world. Aside from 16 years of designing and manufacturing kayaks, Celliers has been paddling and in the community and industry for over 20 years.

He has been under a restraint-of-trade for three years, which has been very trying for us. He was restricted from having anything to do with paddling locally and internationally - yes, that means he couldn't even design a boat for another company or get a job elsewhere. We couldn't even make paddles in our garage to sell.

Imagine a doctor that cannot have anything to do with medicine for three years, not even being a pharmaceutical rep; or a media person that may not send an email, write an article or go on social media for three years.

We started YOLO - making compost tumblers - as a new business 18 months ago. I am passionate about recycling and working towards ZeroWaste and we needed a composting solution at home. I'm now compost obsessed and I love my company and interacting with our like-minded customers. Businesses take a while to get off the ground, especially when you're in completely new territory, in an industry that is unfamiliar to both of us. The past years have been challenging.

I've been very quiet with blog writing mostly because I've barely had enough time to sneeze and I've been writing a ton of content for our Vagabond Kayaks website. I'm also our website designer and this has been the biggest and most complicated website that I have ever built. I'm no computer programmer; just a self-taught, old-school website designer with the ability to read help files, code HTML and tweak php. I've been stretched!

We also have a bunch of images and graphics on the site, which I created. Celliers' beautiful CAD renderings of each kayak at various angles have had our logos added to them, manually, by me. My mouse hand is exhausted!

Our website is www.vagabondkayaks.com and we're on Facebook (vagabondkayaks) and Instagram (vagabondkayaks). Like-Like-Like, Love-Love-Love, Share-Share-Share.

Picnic on the other side of the Vaal River - this lovely spot accessed by paddling our Vagabond kayaks. Home-baked bread, fig jam and dog treats (although Rusty wanted bread and jam too).
As for our kayaks... They are beautiful!

Rusty and I on the Kasai; Ruben and Kyla on their children's kayaks (like a scaled-down version of mine), the Kwando.
I've paddled the Kasai (great all-purpose sit-on-top with good speed) and the Tsomo (shorter, more playful) and prototypes of the Dumbi (surf kayak), Vubu (whitewater kayak; the smaller Pungwe will be my whitewater kayak) and the Usutu (whitewater sit-on-top). Rusty likes the Kasai the best so far.

Rusty is very comfy in the back of the Kasai. She likes to lie down too.
I am most looking forward to paddling the Marimba, which will be the fastest in our fleet. I had only one request for Celliers' design: make sure there is enough space for Rusty. While most of these kayaks will be available in the next two weeks or so, the Marimba will be our last one and only in production by October.



We have had a superb response from friends, family and the paddling community since we put the site online not much more than 36-hours ago. Celliers and I are pleasantly drowning in support and well wishes.

We have awesome partners in this business (all paddlers too) and we look forward to having them more involved in the day-to-day activities as we transition to production.

Celliers and I are recovering from extreme lack of sleep the past two weeks (especially the last five days!) and we still have so much work to do. For now, we continue to build this amazing company.

I left Rusty running around on these rocks when I swapped to paddle the Tsomo. She watched me for a bit and then climbed into 'her' tankwell on 'her' Kasai. Ruben was on this side so he climbed on and paddled her to me.

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