By Michelle Mears-Gerst
Fallbrook natives Aaron Lieber and Derek Johnson are breaking the stereotypes placed on both the millennial generation and surfers with their startup company Surf Grass Mats.
The two friends, now business partners graduated from Fallbrook High School in 2004 but kept in touch through college with their passion for surfing. Lieber graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in communication and Johnson graduated from Cal State San Marcos with a business degree.
Their company Surf Grass Mats took root after the two spent an afternoon brainstorming about creating a functional product for surfers to carry.
“We have been using scraps of synthetic turf to place our feet on after surfing and people were stopping to tell us what a great idea we had,” said Johnson.
“Aaron and I started to brainstorm how we could market the grass mats and turn it into a business.”
With Johnson’s education in business and Lieber’s in communication and marketing the two friends created their company Surf Grass Mats.
After much research and field-testing on the perfect synthetic mat they found a company in the United States that not only had the best quality of turf but the best price.
Lieber and Johnson focused on every small detail they could think of from the strap wrapping the mats to the underside of the mats so they are easy to clean, soft, light and pleasing to the eye.
“We took our prototypes directly to the surfers and tested them for functionality,” said Johnson. “We wanted the surfers to have the highest quality.”
The mats are 29 oz. and 20 x 25 inches of American made synthetic turf. The mat has soft bristles of turf. They are great to use to dust off any dirt, sand, or particles that may have accumulated on your feet and wetsuit while changing. The mats were intended for use before you get into your car or walk into your house for an instant clean feeling. However, Surf Grass Mats fans have been Instagraming how they use the mats beyond surfing like camping, snowboarding, or at their home.
The company started in December 2012, in 2013 the two started to get orders from local stores including Surfriders in Oceanside. Today they have Surf Grass Mats in 55 stores throughout California as well as internationally in Canada, Panama, and Japan.
The mats sell for under $30 and are meant to last for years.
The mat is extremely durable and easy to clean. Storing it is equally as simple – just roll it up and secure it by the Velcro strap, or lay it flat in your trunk for your wetsuit to dry on while driving to your next destination.
“Ditch your lid tops, towels and tarp and get yourself a Surf Grass Mat. It’s guaranteed to provide comfort while garnering looks of awe and curiosity,” said Johnson.
Johnson and Lieber are proving the entrepreneurial spirit is alive in the nation’s younger generation. They are hardworking individuals who enjoy surfing and the surfing lifestyle and found a way to make a living off their passion.
“Our goal is to create more products under the Surf Grass brand eventually having Surf Grass become an action word,” said Johnson.