At EBB & FLO, we recognise the importance of acknowledging our progress and staying true to our values. As passionate individuals, it's easy to get lost in the pursuit of the next big idea and lose sight of how far we've come. That's why we want to share our timeline with you, from the moment our idea was born to how we've adapted, improvised and overcome challenges to arrive at where we are today. By reflecting on our journey, we stay grounded in our values and motivated to continue pushing forward.
How & Why it all began!
A word from Toni our founder:
At EBB & FLO, we cherish our deep connection to nature and believe it's essential for our well-being. As the founder, I can trace this connection back to my childhood, where my brother and I spent countless hours exploring the outdoors. We caught spiders, raced snails, dug for worms, and made mud pies in our garden. We were part of the generation that played outside with friends, climbed trees, went pond dipping, and only went home when the sun set.
Our hometown of Cleethorpes on the East coast of Lincolnshire was where we grew up, and the beach played a big role in our childhood. Rolling in the mud, crabbing, collecting shells and sea glass, these experiences instilled in us a sense of adventure and a deep appreciation for nature. We weren't just playing outside; we were fully immersed in it!
Becoming a mum at 19 stirred my passion for adventure, and I knew I wanted to raise my boy with the same carefree, fearless spirit that defined my own childhood. As it is with parenting, we lead by example, so I made sure to incorporate outdoor play and exploration as much as possible. From exploring our local beach and parks, to camping trips and van adventures, my son grew up with a deep appreciation for nature and a love for outdoor adventure.
As a young mum, I was driven to lead by example not only in lifestyle but also in pursuing a meaningful career. My passion for helping others and promoting their wellbeing was always at the forefront of my mind. I knew that nature played a significant role in achieving a balanced and healthy life, but my journey didn't start with EBB & FLO. Instead, I pursued a career in psychology, which led me to spend five years studying Clinical Psychology at university, with a one-year break for the birth of my second child. I was determined to make a positive impact in the world.
Armed with my knowledge, skills, and experience in mental health, I worked for the next three years in various mental health settings, including acute care, eating disorders, and community health. However, I soon realised that the limitations of these settings prevented me from providing the level of support and care that I envisioned. Working 12-hour shifts on hospital wards was a far cry from my previous active lifestyle, where I only had my children and myself to answer to. I struggled to balance my demanding work schedule with my family commitments, missing out on precious moments such as attending school plays and sports days. It was the small meaningful things that drove the decision to leave that world behind and pursue a new path. Interestingly, this turning point in my life coincided with the discovery of stand-up paddle boarding, which would become the foundation for EBB & FLO.
It was the Summer of 2016, I was 28 years old, recently engaged, and my boys were 9 and 4. The active and adventurous lifestyle I craved was previously unattainable due to my youngest child's poor sleep patterns. However, that all changed when we saw an ad for a SUP and decided to try it out as a way to spend quality time together outdoors. SUP was the gateway to discovering the beauty of local adventures and connecting with nature. It was surprising to find that there was no real water sports culture in our seaside town, except for the occasional jet skier. But when people started asking us where we rented our boards, I realised there was a demand for this activity in the community. After months of research and guidance from a local business support group, I developed a plan.
The vision was to use business as a force for good. To create an inclusive brand, where i could apply my knowledge, experience, and skills in mental health, and use that to enrich our community, and nurture a water sport and wellbeing culture. The starting plan was to operate out of a van and offer SUP rentals aligned with a lifestyle brand that promotes well-being and sustainability. Although it was scary to take the leap, I knew I needed to make a change.
In October that year, the tragic loss of a friend and the Summer redundancy from my husband's job served as a reminder that life is short and unpredictable. It was then that I decided to take the leap and pursue my dream of starting EBB & FLO. I left my job in mental health and took up house cleaning to make ends meet while putting together a business plan, cash flow forecast, and loan application.
In January 2017, my application was approved, and EBB & FLO became a reality.
After the hype generated by our plans, my idea of operating out of a van had to be scrapped. Instead, we were presented with an opportunity to open a physical store. A ramshackled room, in a deprived part of town, but all i could envision was the open space and glass doors looking out to sea, for me it was perfect!
The start of the year was dedicated to renovating the space with the help of our family and friends. We had to install new electrics, a new ceiling, decorate, and even dismantle and repurpose around 150 pallets. The most exciting part was installing the beautiful glass storefront. Finally, after months of hard work, my vision had been brought to life and we proudly opened our doors on the 28th of July, 2017.
Today, our brand has exceeded our wildest expectations and continues to evolve and grow. We've listened to our community and followed our intuition, which has led us to develop many exciting plans for the future. We believe in the importance of staying true to our values and ethos, whilst adapting and expanding to meet the needs and desires of our community. So, we invite you to join us on this journey and grow with the flow.
- July: Idea for EBB & FLO was born.
- August: Formally engaged with E-factor, a local business start-up support organisation to set the wheels in motion for starting the business.
- October: Completed L1 & L2 ASI SUP instructor courses.
- Launch Business July 28th
- March: Took on additional workshop and office space.
- April/May: Renovations to workshop and office space took place.
- July: We moved our workshop space on-site, to be able to work whilst in store.
- August: Launch of T-shirt partnership with RNLI.
- September: We employed our first members of staff.
- March: Re-opened store to the public again after lockdown.
- April: Hired our first external SUP instructor.
- May: Launched SUP lessons from Alexandra Dock in Grimsby.
- September: Publicly announced visual plans for our new building development.
- October: Won 'Heart Of The Community' & 'Business Of The Year' at the Great Big Small Awards.
- MAY: First SUP & Skate event
- JUNE: Earth Day beach clean, Signhills big event approx 200 people (mention kg of litter collected)