Big-wave legend Mark Healey’s surf-centric subscription box

By Neal Kearney

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Health-food nuts can snack nonstop with Graze, beauty junkies always look their best with Birchbox, and tea connoisseurs have a constant supply with Tea Sparrow. When it comes to the now-ubiquitous subscription box model, it seems every possible interest is satiated with a monthly doorstep delivery service. (Or several—for those with perpetually cold toes, we counted at least five sock subscription companies to choose from.)

Now, thanks to award-winning spear-fisherman, free-diver, conservationist, part-time Hollywood stuntman and big-wave icon Mark Healey, there’s a gift box on the market that targets surfers and beach enthusiasts. Last August, Healey and his partner Kevin Tighe launched Surf Shop Box, tapping into this highly popular business model using their combined knowledge of both business- and surf-related products.

“My partner [Tighe] had been working in the tech startup world for quite some time and had seen an opportunity to bring the subscription model to the surf industry,” Healey tells Waves. “On the flip side, I was exploring some business models which would allow me to utilize my knowledge and experience to help find the best products in different price ranges.”

With the Surf Shop Box, customers are sent a care package that contains $100 worth (in retail value) of apparel and accessories for about $49. They aim to include a balanced mix of products from both established and emerging brands, with a sprinkling of unique and exclusive items. Each box usually contains two pieces of apparel and one accessory, plus some goodies like nutrition bars and organic sunscreen. As a personal touch, each box comes with a postcard with a note from Healey or another team member or curator.

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As a company founded by ocean lovers and for ocean lovers, Healey says it was important that Surf Shop Box also have an environmental element. “We donate a portion of the proceeds toward beach and ocean cleanups,” he explains. “We work with nonprofits from 1% For the Planet to accomplish our goal, which is to remove one pound of waste from oceans and beaches for every new member that joins.”

This isn’t Healey’s first foray into the business world. In 2015 he co-founded Healey Water Operations, a business aiming to provide once-in-a-lifetime, high-end ocean-based adventures for private clients. On these adventures, Healey and his crew teach clients to how to swim with sharks, surf big waves, spear giant fish, and fulfil their wildest oceanic fantasies. Healey credits this endeavor, as well as the relationships he’s established in the surf and water/adventure industries, with helping in the success of his newest venture.

“I’m lucky enough to be able to get pretty much anyone at a company on the phone and listening,” he says. “This access brings opportunities to our members that no one else can get.”

How does Healey find the time and energy to chase the world’s biggest waves and run a number of businesses all at the same time? In an industry where high-paying sponsorships are harder and harder to come by, this 35-year-old charger is taking the future of his career into his own hands.

“It’s a major balancing act,” Healey admits. “But I have to be the master of my financial destiny. I’ve learned time and time again that it’s not wise to leave it in the hands of others. I just make sure that all my ventures take on an ‘All roads lead to Rome’ model, except it’s more like ‘All ventures lead to water.’”

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