Saltfish Surf Co.
Meet Romain Goudinoux, creator of Venice-based surf brand Saltfish Surf Co., a handcrafted collection of board bags, totes and everyday essentials designed for an effortless transition from the waves to weekend adventures. Watch his Kickstarter video below.
Raised in Montpellier, a small beach town near Marseille in the South of France, Romain grew up a surfer/skater kid of the ‘90s who always dreamt of traveling to the birthplace of skateboarding, Venice Beach.
Today, he has lived in Venice for more than eight years and says he feels more at home here than anywhere else. Now he’s making his mark on local surf and skate culture with the launch of Saltfish Surf Co., a line of handcrafted board bags, totes, wooden wax combs, and some everyday basics like hats and duffle bags made for and inspired by life in Venice and globetrotting adventures.
The board bags ($375) and tote bag slings ($275) are each one-of-a-kind creations. He designs them with textiles collected over the years — vintage serapes for the board bags and colorful Oaxacan mats for the slings — and meets with a family-run manufacturer in Mexico where they are assembled and finished with leather from Guadalajara.
The wooden wax combs ($18) are beautifully detailed with laser-etched fish scales and finished with a leather tie. (It’s the Saltfish Surf Co. logo, which was illustrated by his tattoo artist brother-in-law SupaKitch.) That such an artfully crafted piece would be relegated to the task of scraping off excess surfboard gunk shows the meticulous styling and an unwavering commitment to omit plastic from all products.
The tote bag sling in particular was created with Venice Beach lifestyle in mind. It’s durable, compact and multifunctional. It’s meant to live in small spaces (or on the road) and adapt to different uses throughout the day. It can tote a shortboard, a skateboard, a yoga mat, or a bouquet of flowers from the Friday farmers’ market. You can find them slung across the shoulders of both men and women and stocked at Surfing Cowboys and The Butcher’s Daughter.
// Venice Local
It was a sales rep job for a French wine company that brought Romain to LA when he was 24. He left business school for “an opportunity of a lifetime” and moved straight to Venice.
“Ever since I was a kid, I always dreamed about California, about surfing, skateboarding, palm trees," he says. "That was pretty much the mentality when I came here, Venice and nowhere else. It's very much like a small village like I'm used to in France. You can go walk around everywhere. It's in a huge city, it's Los Angeles, but it feels very community like. That's why everyone likes it. It's a community."
After drinking a lot of wine and feeling more settled in his new city, he started to work in fashion merchandising. He spent the past few years as a buyer at Skylark boutique on Abbot Kinney, and it was during this time that he started to think about the disconnect between bags designed for the beach and bags designed for everyday living. He wanted to create something that could easily transition from one to the other, and he wanted to design pieces that incorporated his love of art and travel.
The first Saltfish Surf Co. goods debuted in early 2015, and now the growing company is in that wonderful predicament where orders outpace inventory. To get to the next level, Romain launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the next round of production.
The greatest boost of encouragement though has come from friends and fellow entrepreneurs around Venice.
“I have so much support,” he says. “I tell people that I’m doing Saltfish now 100 percent, and they’re like, ‘Oh my god, good for you. Go for it!’ And it's so great. People here are so supportive of doing your own thing.”
Saltfish Surf Co. // Check site for stockists
Support // Saltfish Surf Co. Kickstarter
Photos courtesy Saltfish Surf Co.