With a team of 6 (and, so far, 18 amazing Surfer Dudes® and Surfer Pets®), we are a typical small business. Our dedication to making one insanely great product, most importantly, to our customers and fans of all ages. We are enormously proud of our retailers, please visit our where to buy! We hope you’ll join us on our journey to 2,000,000 dudes and beyond. We promise not to disappoint you!
We shipped our millionth Surfer Dude this week. Wow! We have a million fans to thank for that. A great big thank you from the six of us and all The Dudes! We wanted to share where our millionth Surfer Dude went. From time to time, we have interactions with our fans. Some of them are enormously cute, like the youngster who mails Hossegor Hank an impassioned letter asking, “how do I get my Dad to return my Surfer Dude so I can play with it?” And, many of you have seen the adorable pictures and videos we have been privileged to share. Some of the interactions are brief, some of them go on for months or even years. Over the last two months, we have had one that has reached deep into our hearts and, though we have not done this before, we wanted to share it.
In June, a mother of three reached out to us. While we ask our fans not to toss Surfer Dudes in strong winds, her 4 and 6 year old daughters got a bit carried away and their shared Alice was caught by the wind and sailed well past the shore breaking waves. We began to email back and forth and several days later, their father, appreciating our interactions and support, told us that their 4 year old had recently been diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. In a subsequent email, he told us that it was DIPG, a very rare tumor for which there is no known cure and that there was a strong likelihood that their 4 year old daughter would not see her fifth birthday. Like any of our fans, The Dudes were devastated. We have continued to email often with the family and they have been kind enough to share the trials and depths of what they are going through. And, while our full focus is on Elle and the family, along the way, her father said something in one of our many exchanges that showed us that a toy is more than a toy. He wrote, “I think the word toy sometimes gets misconstrued. A toy is just not an object; it’s a feeling. It’s a feeling that one gets from using the toy. I completely agree with your words below about bringing people together, just as it did with us, and just as it does with our children and their friends. You just don't make surf toys, you make experiences. A joyful experience that brings smiles to children (and adult’s) faces. As we witnessed with my daughter Ava [Elle’s 6 year old sister] when she lost her Surfer Dude, it wasn't just a toy she lost that day, it was part of the good feelings she had received from it. She cried on the beach that day as if someone hurt her. This wasn't over just a toy, this was more than that to her, it was a friend. As a Dad, the hardest thing to see in this world is to see your children cry.”
He made us think back on our interactions over the last several years since we launched Surfer Dudes to the occasional email or call we get about saddened youngsters that lost a wing or broke a Dude and our devotion to repairing them and bringing back smiles. He confirmed that the most fun we have each day is not shipping another Surfer Dude, but in taking care of the very few that somehow did not go just right, the rare, but all so meaningful, interaction with youngsters, parents, and grandparents that have come to love their Surfer Dudes. As he said, a toy is just not an object; it’s a feeling.
As we said though, our full focus is on Elle. Elle was shipped our one millionth Surfer Dude. Her sister, Ava, received our 1,000,001st, and her now several month old brother, Mason, received our 1,000,002nd, which will, no doubt, find its way into his bathtub. For us, it was an extraordinarily special way to celebrate 1,000,000, to be able to recognize that Surfer Dudes have created special experiences on beaches all over for families and friends.
For me personally, it has been gaining a new friend and his family, one that I am privileged to share back and forth with in emails for now, as he and his family, and so many others surrounding them, hope and pray for a miracle. We hope our million fans might offer their hope and prayers as well. Elle’s story is being told in a journal her father adds to online whenever he can get to doing so. It can be accessed at: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/ellecaruso/journalOpens in new window and redirects to external site. and we encourage you to do so.
I shall continue to exchange emails for now, knowing, with full confidence, that I will soon enough have the privilege of meeting my new friend and his family and giving them a hug just as I have been privileged to do on the many store events we have been privileged to do. We know where our meeting will be – at the Partner’s Statue in The Magic Kingdom when the time is right. Walt Disney never forgot that it all started with a mouse. Derek has taught me that it can all start with a Surfer Dude.
Our thanks to our million fans. I hope you will join us in prayer for a miracle. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for every email, every interaction, along the way. It has been one million privileges. Our dedication to making one insanely great product, to our retailers and, most importantly, to our end customers of all ages, has quickly sold over 1,000,000 Surfer Dudes. We are enormously proud of our retailers, a number of which sell through hundreds of Surfer Dudes a month, earning more than enough from a single item to pay their monthly rent and, often, much of their operating costs. We hope you’ll join us on our journey to 2,000,000 and beyond. We promise not to disappoint you!