Jack Candlish’s house is minimalist and sparse. In his living room, there’s just a couch, table, chairs and a large grey dog, Devon, which he shares with his partner (the beautiful and irrepressible Clair) and a single surfboard. Yet this surfboard represents endless hours of thinking, working, planning, trial and error. Jack is all about that. He gives things a go, and learns from his mistakes, then passes on the knowledge to others without resistance, leaving the world better for his discoveries, and hopefully reducing his and others footprint on the world.
WHAT IS ORGANIC DYNAMIC?
Jack is the founder of a company called ‘Organic Dynamic’, built to be eco-friendly, meaning that surfing is better for the environment. He’s delivered a TEDxWellington talk about the power of society keeping waste in the cycle within business models, whether that is recycling, upcycling or repurposing products. Jack had his attention brought to the issue of waste in the surf industry after seeing how many surfboards ended up in landfills when they broke. Surfboards have a plethora of toxic components in them, partially to make the board solid and also buoyant on the surf. Jack set out to change the status quo - and in the process is attracting local and international attention to his work.
HOW DID HE GET HERE?
Jack was born in Maidstone in Kent. His family moved to New Zealand when he was 3 or 4 years old. “My dad is a diamond setter, and my mum has worked in teaching, banking and real estate. And of course, she raised us” he says. Jack’s father had visited Wellington when he was on his OE when he was 25 and swore he would return here to live. After living in the UK again for 10 years, he moved his young family back to Aotearoa.
Jack started his schooling at St Benedict's before moving to St Patricks College. “When I finished school, I always knew I was heading down the design road. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been making things out of wood." He's experimented with a lot of different materials but always gone back to timber. "I used wood as a kid because it was accessible. My initial connection began through availability” Jack says. Over time, Jack started to realise the merits and beauty of wood. “I developed a relationship with it,” he says.
After school ended, Jack went to University at Massy - but is still yet to graduate. “I failed paper in my final semester. It was a core paper too! I got knocked out by swine flu a few times and I had a trip planned so instead of going and asking for an extension, I went on the trip.” Jack started working some odd jobs in bars and pubs - and never went back. Instead, he used the money he was making working to buy tools and machines, beginning to make things in his parent's garage. Jack then got into cutting giant vinyl stickers out for businesses and their cars, thus starting his own business ‘Stick’, which ended up employing 4 people while Jack was still in his early twenties.
However, before long, he started to question his own business. “I was doing lots of signage work, but I didn’t like the material. It was non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. The negative cut of the material also is turned into waste, because you can’t use it for much else. I started to consider the environmental impact of my work” he says. It was around this time that Jack got into surfing. “I started to think about the impact I wanted to leave on the world.” Jack started tinkering and began to start producing timber work. “It was a harder industry to break into but it was more aligned with what I wanted to do with my life.” Jack started his second business ‘Proffer’ with friends, which focused on joinery. It was from there he launched his now full-time business, Organic Dynamic.
HOW DID JACK START ORGANIC DYNAMIC?
Jack got into surfing at an older age, although when he was young, he lived in the sea, body boarding and swimming. “A friend took me out surfing, and I was hooked. I was like ‘This is me. This is what I want to do’.”
Jack also wanted to get back into the woodwork. “I got more people involved in the business side of things because I wanted to be making things. In my spare time, I began to make surfboards. It was supposed to be a hobby. I was always curious to see if I could make a business out of it - but first and foremost I wanted to create a great board.”
The building of surfboards was in and of itself, organic. Jack’s boards would break not-infrequently. The boards are made of recycled polystyrene and New Zealand timber. In order to get maintain the curvature of the board whilst gluing the different materials together, you need the particular jig that Jack has created. “This is something I learned from working in the furniture industry. It is only in the last few weeks that I’ve realised this machinery can help all surfboard manufacturers” Jack says. “I want to re-create the local aspect of surfboard design. I hope that I can sell to people who are making their boards locally by reducing labour costs and get them to better compete with the big brands in Asia who sell surfboards. Keeping local industry alive is key.” Jack is passionate about coming up with ways technology can help people to create more jobs. “Everyone should work together to boost sustainability. I don’t like patents because then other people can’t learn from your techniques you develop to make the world more sustainable. Others then have to go through the same pains I have been through in research and development. By showing people the technology, we can all make each other stronger.”
It turned into a business organically, but then also found himself working two jobs and again not having the time to surf. “It was frustrating so I had to take a step back,” Jack says.
Since February 2017, Jack has been full-time on Organic Dynamic. The timing could have been better, Jack admits. “Just as the water was getting cold! And there’s been no surf.’ However, this lets to Jack getting serious about the machinery side of his surfboard business and licensing his work to sell his technology.
HOW DID JACK AND HIS GIRLFRIEND CLAIR(OF SHUT UP AND DANCE) MEET?
Jack and Clair met on Tinder while she was visiting New Zealand. Clair was on Tinder to make friends, while she was working in Auckland as an Au Pair. Jack was in Auckland to help on the Mojo Coffee re-brand signage. After the first date in Ponsonby, Jack asked whether Clair would like to go to Waiheke Island as a second date (it was on her New Zealand bucket list). She agreed, not knowing that he lived in Wellington and was flying up specially. “Now we just get burgers at Five Boroughs” Jack laughs.
When Clair left New Zealand, the pair had been on around four dates. Clair admits that for her it was just a good time. But Jack was ready to jump in, boots and all. The next thing Clair knew, he’d booked tickets on Valentines Day to a Ben Howard concert - in Paris. Rather than getting freaked out, Clair decided to accept the situation and go with it. “I sold my bike to pay for the flights,” Jack says. He spent the next month in Europe with Clair, and they got to know each other more, and then she came back to New Zealand for a visit, where she has stayed ever since. “I was supposed to stay for two months but I stayed on until the end of my Visa.” Now they have their fur-baby Devon together and have made their Roseneath place a real home.
“I love that Jack is always ready to change,” says Clair. “Whether it is his surfboards or hypothetically moving overseas.”
“Good breweries, good coffee roasters, Wairarapa isn’t far away - the only thing is sometimes the weather could be a bit better in Winter!” Jack says. “Jack loves Garage Project” pipes up Clair. “Pernicious weed” Jack nods. Of course, it is fitting that, for Jack, given his passion for crafting the best boards for everyone else, only the best craft beer will do.