Saving the ocean, one wave at a time
When carpenter, Rikki Gilbey, traded life in Devon, England for Sydney, he had no idea that his international sea change would lead to him to launch a business.
Moving to Sydney in 2011, the plucky Brit was introduced to bodysurfing in 2014, and his love affair with the sport was immediate.
“When I first tried bodysurfing, it blew me away,” recalls Rikki. “After spending years learning to surf I was skeptical, but I absolutely loved it.”
Straight after his first session he tried to source some handplanes, the kit needed for body surfing, and he found it harder than he expected.
“There really wasn't any quality handplanes in Australia at that time,” he explains.
Rikki decided to utilise his background in carpentry to make one for himself – and another 18 to peddle at the weekend markets in Manly. He sold out immediately.
“I left that day with a big wad of cash and lots of happy customers,” he says.
Recognising a demand, he was inspired to throw himself into his new business. “I decided to make products using sustainably sourced timber, because being environmentally friendly was important to me.”
To replace the timber that WAW Handplanes uses, it works with the Carbon Neutral Charity Fund to plant one tree for every one sold.
Rikki was making his products by hand, and he realised if he wanted to scale the business he would need to outsource. He began looking at other ways to make handplanes and decided to release a new line manufactured from ocean plastics.
However, he soon discovered there was no one in Australia using ocean plastics to create products on a commercial scale. Rikki created his own supply chain by partnering with a beach clean-up group, developing a processing facility, and finding a manufacturer.
Three years later, in April 2019 he launched the first WAW BadFish. “The fact that it's the first commercially made product of its type in Australia is surprising, but it’s something that I'm really proud of,” he says.
The WAW BadFish led Rikki to be awarded an Amazon Australia Launchpad Innovation Grant. As a result, the product has been on Amazon for four months and the company has seen plenty of benefits.
Rikki says using Fulfilment by Amazon, which gives him access to Amazon’s advanced fulfilment capabilities and fast shipping, is super handy, convenient, and incredibly efficient. This is why he plans to use Amazon.com.au as a foundation for the company to expand globally. “With Amazon Australia, we can reach a wide variety of customers not only quickly but in a way which is efficient for our business,” he says.
This year will be the first year that WAW Handplanes are selling on Amazon Australia for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, and Rikki is excited to part of it.
Looking to the future, Rikki wants to inspire other companies and brands to recycle ocean plastics.
“I really want to showcase that it is possible to use Australian ocean plastics to make a product on a commercial scale. I want to prove you can make a profit, and a difference.”