By any normal standards most weeks in Cape Town are pretty special. By Cape Town standards, last week knocked it out of the park. While the Sealand family were working late into the night to get the Experience Store as close to perfect as possible, massive waves, that had travelled thousands of miles across the ocean, were approaching the Atlantic coastline of the city.
Photo Cred: Alan van Gysen / @alanvangysen
Local big wave charger and founder of the Sentinel Ocean Alliance, Frank Solomon, had been watching the ocean charts for days. With growing excitement at wave predictions that would make most people’s knees shake, he called his partner in crime, Josh who was on the next plane from Durban. The swell was only going to arrive around lunch time and they spent the morning making sure they had everything they needed from surfboards and safety vests to sunscreen and surfboard wax. The day was perfect without a breath of wind. With excitement levels peaking, Frank and Josh jumped into the car and drove along the world-renowned Chapman’s Peak Drive toward the infamous big wave spot, Sunset. As they came around the final corner, in true Cape Town style, the wind started howling and they knew it would be a tough session. Despite difficult conditions Frank and Josh caught a couple of bombs, Josh had a 20 foot, or two storey building, set break on his head (which Frank only chuckles about) and by the end of the day they were exhausted and sufficiently stoked.
Photo Cred: Alan van Gysen / @alanvangysen
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Mother City, a different kinds of waves were being made – Sealand was about open its first Experience Store.
Since we started our journey in 2015, we have been dreaming of our own store. While it is always desirable for a brand to have their own retail space, the Sealand Experience Store needed to be more than simply a sales channel. The dream has always been to have an educational space where we can tell our story. We envisioned a place where like-minded people could meet to trade ideas and friendship as we all work towards saving our environment. As we grew and found ourselves in some of the world’s top high-end retailers such as Selfridges, Matches Fashion, and Mr Porter, we knew it had to be somewhere that did justice to the reputation we have gained, and the values we stand for. We knew the dream was big and our uncompromising commitment to it resulted in a longer wait for reality to catch up.
On Thursday night, however, in a repurposed building in the heart of Cape Town, our dream did become our reality – the doors to the Sealand Experience Store were opened. Designed by Marco Simal, we are proud to say that every detail of the space has been carefully considered and scrutinised to make it as representative of us as possible. We have installed cork tables designed by Laurie Wiid, a balustrade that represents the brand motif, as well as a ‘Sealand Select’ room which encourages people to make their own Toastie utility pouch by selecting pre-cut panels of waste material. Like us, the space is intended to be dynamic with rotating displays and educational pieces. We have dedicated walls to our ambassadors to enable them to tell their incredible stories, and we hope that these walls will both educate and inspire action.
Such an occasion called for a celebration. We had friends, family, members of the media come in from all corners of the world, as well as representatives from the City of Cape Town, to make Sealand history with us. While the attendees were global, we kept it local with food foraged from the rock pools of the fresh Atlantic, beverages supplied by local alchemists, and music by hometown hero, Sean Koch. Speeches were made, there was laughter, clinking of glasses, and a couple of tears shed.
A big week in Cape Town indeed. There are a number of parallels to be drawn between the monstrous waves rolling into Kommetjie and the opening of the Sealand store. The starkest of them, however, are that both is just the beginning. The swell marks the beginning of the big wave season in Cape Town, and the store marks the start of a new chapter at Sealand. Like the waves, the opening of the store is big and we now approach what we do with more excitement and rigour, and humility and respect, than ever before.