Having since 1993 (at age 16) being a frequent visitor to California’s West Coast initially selling his mountain bike to fund his first flight (and failing to attend his exams in the process) his relationships with numerous industry people he met made him began to think how he might be able to export the California scene back to Europe. He would often ride his bike miles to watch people like renown board builder ‘Donald Takayama’ or ‘Skip Frye’ make surfboards finding the opportunity to learn first hand from the greats and core of the industry.
Working with his friend Chris Barker whom lived at ‘Cardiff by the Sea’ in North San Diego they would spend hours working on branding and the adding the subtle differences to market the distinguished trends that were appearing in the surfing market between the established ‘short board market’ and the classic and more soulful approach of yesteryear which was beginning to resurface and emerge.
By 2003 the company was operating from a warehouse in Cornwall, another warehouse in Hossegor, SW France along with a retail shop in the center of Truro, Cornwall’s capital in the UK. The product was a mix of imported Hawaiian shirts made in California to Surfboards & early stage wetsuits. Richard was starting to spend time working alongside factories all over the world in such locations as India, Morocco, Portugal, China, Hong Kong as well as frequenting the USA regularly throughout the year both designing products and managing sales.
The company also had a surfboard program with professional surfer ‘Kevin Connelly’ based in California and whom represented the company. The home based team of employees included Emma Skinner, Gordon Blake, Sam Starkie, Simon Scales, Paul Chapman & Tori Hainey – all of whom shared a passion to make growing Nineplus a reality and shared many memories in the earlier years, it was a fairy tale beginning built on romance, youth and travel.
Over the course of 2004 & 2005 the company although growing in popularity suffered a series of setbacks due in part to the lack of business knowledge and managing a growing business. Nineplus sought investment from Equity Partners and with thanks to both David Blake and Finance Cornwall the company continued on its path at that time valuing the small business at over $1m dollars.