Lost Kooks was an idea conceived in the famous waters of Bells Beach on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. Fast forward a few months, and Lost Kooks is now a team of creative individuals working together to “build the brand from the sand up”. We first heard about Lost Kooks through Instagram (yes, we are insta-addicts!) where their sweet logo and photographic feed filled with the turquoise hues caught our eye. Being such a fresh surf-apparel brand on the scene, we were keen to learn more and of course share it with you!
We were lucky enough to have a chat with the self confessed “kook’ and man behind the brand, Ben Nathan, where we discuss his journey so far breaking into the world of surf fashion.
So Ben, where are you based?
Lost Kooks is based out of inner city Melbourne, however we spend most of our time residing in Torquay/Jan Juc with our mates, just hanging out and shit.
What sparked the idea/inspiration for lost kooks?
I bought myself my first surfboard off eBay as soon as I finished school and headed down to Jan Juc to teach myself how to surf. I have a strong background in swimming so I was capable enough to get out there with the board, but my coordination took some time. One of my friends, Mark (who funnily enough is now working at Saturdays NYC) had just come back from Indo on a trip with his girlfriend and asked if I wanted to come for a surf one day. Abidingly I said yes and we headed down to the world renowned, Bells Beach. To be honest I was shitting myself. I had only been surfing for little over 3 months and only on little beachies on small days. This day was perfect. 2 to 4 feet, light offshore breeze and Mark and I were the only ones out at the bowl on dawn; for a good half hour we sat there chatting as the swell was slow at that point and talking about what I wanted to do and I came up with an idea of starting a surfing blog/instagram.
What did your life look like after graduating high school?
Pretty boring to be honest. Started at university and never really got into it. I worked two to three jobs so I could earn enough money to travel to some of my favourite places on the planet and enjoy myself. Unfortunately (for my mum) I wasn’t too interested in pursuing my studies, I just wanted to chill out and enjoy life. However to this day I’m still studying (my 3rd degree in 3 years) and have no clue where I will be in 5 years time. Just taking life as it comes!
When not going on awesome road trips and weekends away for Lost Kooks, how do you spend your time?
I spend most of my time working. I carry two jobs which takes up a lot of my time, as well as uni. I sit at home and watch the surf forecasts a week in advance to see if I have no work on so I can head somewhere down the coast and find empty waves and a spot to have a few beers. Actually, I probably spend most of my time planning mini adventures for the future hahaha. I’m a pretty boring person.
What made you chose to focus on surf apparel?
We focus on Indie Surf Apparel, because not many people do it in Victoria. It’s all hyped around Byron and the Goldy so why not bring it to Victoria?
Do you/did you have any prior experience in business/running your own business?
Yep. Me and a few of my mates ran a pretty low key business called “Halifax Co”; it was pretty much the coolest thing in the North-West suburbs in 2014. It was a basic streetwear label that outsourced tees and put prints on them. It was cool, I learnt a lot from that 6 month experience.
How did you get in touch with your team of creatives/amazing photographers?
Instagram! What would I do without social media? This is a long story that I will keep short. I got in touch with Hayden O’Neill initially, an up and coming photographer out of Mornington Peninsula. He came up and met me for coffee and I went through with him my plans and what I want out of the brand and he thought it was rad. I purchased a large abundance of his prints to use for the site and instagram at the time and he shot our Death of Paradise range. He (at the time) was with another big up and comer in photography, Cait Miers, who is now signed by Roxy. She’s a really cool chick who knows a lot about what she does and is so unique in her editing and feministic nature, it’s so beautiful. I also got in touch with Hector Clark, a super indie, raw photographer out of South Yarra in Melbourne. He is one super nice dude that had traveled all the places that I wish I had visited. He creates very masculine and raw footage and is now going away from the surf photography scene and now into fashion/portrait photography. His stuff is sweet.
On to our current team of creatives, well what can I say? They are Luka Kerr (Sydney), Bevan Gemmell (Sydney), Harley Kingston (Mornington, Victoria), Zac Dorio (Mornington, Victoria), Hayden O’Neill (Mornington, Victoria) and Surfvisuals/Brooko Mckeon (Surf Coast Victoria). These guys are the leaders of our vision to #exploreyourlove. This hashtag is a movement where we want engagement from our customers and we want our photographers to help shape our brand. These guys are legends and you
should go check them out.
What is the meaning behind the name “lost kooks”?
Lost Kooks comes from a little meaning from when I first started designing fashion. I was ‘lost’ because I had no idea what I was doing and ‘kook’ means someone who is shit or a beginner in the surf, and thats currently me in the fashion world. Nobody starts off at the top.
What has been the best moment/highlight/turning point in your Lost Kooks Journey so far?
The best moment of the Lost Kooks journey is definitely the launch of our gear. I had planned for 12 months to launch the collection and have planned well into the future. So the more support the more
great gear you get to see!
What has been the lowest point/biggest struggle with making your dream a reality?
Definitely realising I couldn’t do what I wanted to as a launch. But I’m going to keep that to myself, because you’ll see that down the track
What is the ultimate advice you would give to young creatives wanting to “start from the sand up” in their own dream business ventures?
Sell what you can see, not, see what you can sell. I learnt this from one of my bosses, I hope he reads this so he knows that I listened!
What is your ultimate vision for Lost Kooks?
Lost Kooks wants to be a leading brand for alternative surf wear in Victoria. We want to help guide young people through life by pushing the passionate side of our brand, which ultimately is to have a great time, adventuring, surfing and loving life. Lost Kooks wants to be in everyones wardrobe around the globe and make a difference in peoples lives for the better.
What started as light-hearted banter between mates out in the surf is now just another example of someone making shit happen, and following their dreams! We hope that Ben’s story reminds you that we all have to start somewhere, and biting the bullet can result in a simple dream becoming your reality.
To find out more about the Brand, or to purchase any of their stuff head to www.lostkooks.com
Keep up to date with the latest at Lost Kooks by following their Instagram @lostkooks & make sure to hashtag #exploreyourlove in any Insta pics of you pursuing your passion!
Have more questions for Ben? Chuck him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO CREDIT: Hayden O’Neill