Hannah Brown-Damron, better known as HannahB., is a maker of surf-inspired skateboards for surfers out of her workshop in Oceanside, CA. Seen surfing regularly in the lineup at San Onofre, Hannah has built a reputation for building beautiful hand layered maple ply boards decorated with her own custom artwork.
Tell us where you are from…
I was born and raised in Tennessee. Almost nine years ago, my then boyfriend (Jeff) and I packed up his tiny Honda Civic and we meandered our way from Tennessee and ended in Oceanside, CA. We’ve been living here ever since. Oceanside is home for us, it’s the perfect little surf ghetto and a great place to be artist.
Where did you come up with the concept of HannahB. skateboards?
Well, almost two years ago, Jeff (now my husband) mentioned that he’d like to have a longboard to make his slow walk to a surf spot quicker and more fun. got it in my head that I should BUILD him a longboard — not just go buy one like a normal human — but build it. I had never really built anything in my life… I had shaped a couple of surfboards before, but despite my love of surfing, shaping surfboards didn’t really resonate with me. But again, me being me, naively confident about making things (a trait I most certainly get from my Dad), I launched into an internet search on how to build a longboard. And so it began… in our garage.
First I made one for Jeff, then one for me… and so it went for about a year and half. Building custom boards for people, when I had the time, after work, and on the weekends. There is something about working with wood that I’m really drawn to… how I’m able to bend the wood, the way I can carve the rails, how I can take it from a rough state to something so smooth. So finally, in July 2012, I made the decision to quit my day job and pursue skateboard building full time.
What is unique about your boards?
I think of my boards in the same way I think of a surfer getting a custom shaped surfboard from their neighborhood shaper. They are custom, made for the rider, instead of imported, mass produced pop-outs. When I make a board for someone, it is 100% hand built, every time, out of the best materials out there. Even the artwork is hand drawn by me on every deck. Skaters love their boards and should be able to get exactly what they want. My boards are unique in the sense that I can have conversations about riding style, performance expectations, and artwork/color and that is what I give all of my riders. Even if the board is not one of my customs, but one of my boards you can buy online, they are all built the same way… one at a time, with complete attention to detail. Hopefully, my love for building comes across in each one.
Is there a connection between surfing and skating your boards?
Absolutely! There is a strong connection between hannahB. Boards and surfing. Mostly because I’m a huge surf nerd! Surfing is in every part of my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because of that love, I feel like my skateboards are strongly influenced by all things surf. I often draw parallels between classic surfboard shapes and the templates I create for my skateboards. Sometimes its purely aesthetic, for example, a classic swallowtail – I knew that had to be represented on some of my boards. Other times the rider might want their skateboard/longboard to feel like carving a wave on a fish, or cruising on an old school log… which I can count on my surf nerdiness to help me build just the board for them.
What has been the response to HannahB? Where can we find your boards?
The response has been really great! At first just the joy of building boards for friends and family was so very satisfying. But now, the people that I’ve been able to reach through my blog alone amazes me everyday. I have had so many people, people I’ve never even met, send me notes and sweet emails just telling me how much they admire the work that I’m doing… I mean, that is just crazy to me – and so humbling.
As for getting a hannahB. board, there are a couple easy ways. First, my online Etsy shop. When I’m not building customs, I build boards for my shop that are ready buy. But if a custom board is what you are looking for, then simply email me or contact me on Facebook, we’ll chat, answer some questions, then I’ll build you your dream board, it’s that simple :)
What’s next for HannahB?
Build, blog, surf, repeat. I’m also hoping to get some boards into local surf/art/skate shops this year. Continue building custom boards. I’d like to push my board shapes a little further this year, adding more shapes to the lineup and continue to evolve my artwork. Hopefully you’ll see me in your neighborhood shops soon!
Principal photography by Jeff Damron/Photograsurfer. Portrait by Glenn Sakamoto.