ONDA Community Interview with Surfboard Shaper Josiah Morris

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of sitting down with surfboard builder Josiah Morris of Morin Surfboards to talk family, surf, true love and CBD. This is a powerful interview that I am honored to share with you by transcription. Enjoy!

Who was the first person to inspire you and why?

I was about six or seven when my sister started dating a guy who was a surfer, a friend of my brother’s, and he was like, just a God to me when I was a kid. He started making his surfboards, they got married, and that’s what he did as a living. So as a little kid I just spent so much time in his shaping bay. I would just sit there, and get dusty, and watch him do it. I remember loving the smell, too. He was so patient with me and kind and would just answer all of my questions. He was really good at explaining the romance of it. I think I’ve always just been a naturally romantic person. Into ideals and fantasy, it’s just the way that I think. He drew me into the craft, you could say.

Fast-forward a couple of years – I was probably ten – I was playing soccer for an AYSO team and my soccer coach was a surfboard shaper, too. He is still a surfboard shaper to this day who I work part-time for. Just the kindest man. Hardworking who grew up with his kids. I think if you’re patient with a bunch of ten-year-olds you’ve got it. His name is Malcolm who is just a legend across the industry. Very philosophical man, very passionate about politics, equality, and peace. I don’t know, I could never get away from it. I was always around him and his family, surfing on the boards he made.

Gratitude brings joy and joy brings creativity. When you’re disconnected from creativity it is usually because you’re unhappy. If you’re unhappy it’s usually because you’re not grateful.

Josiah and Crista Morris

What lead you to start your surfboard builder business?

Once I become a teenager I started doing construction since I always loved working with my hands. I’ve never been an artist in the ways of drawing or something similar, so doing finished carpentry was very cathartic for me, very relaxing and a great escape. Something I could make money while doing. I did that for about 10-12 years, then got into the industry building boards from the ground up. And I think those two men have definitely stood out to me. Like they imprinted my soul, I would say, in a positive way. I still talk to them both, and I’m still mentored by them both. Now I’ve been building surfboards full-time for ten years.

You have four children and a lovely wife that you work alongside. I’m curious how you keep your work/life balance.

So being in the full-time surf industry was always a way for my family. Just enjoying this romantic, semi-hedonistic lifestyle of work *chuckles*. I have this running joke with my wife, where we’re at a wedding the other day and there’s all this small-talk bullshit, you know? So when people would ask me what do you do for a living I’d just tell them I’m in the toy industry. They’re always like, oh really? And I say yeah, I make adult toys. Haha, just to get a rise out of people!

Josiah and Crista Morris Morin Surfboards
Valentine’s Day 2019 photo by @ironandresin

It’s always been a very fun industry. There’s not a lot of money. The joke is, we make surfboards, not money. I was always okay, then I started working for a few major surf brands building boards for them. At some point, it just got to me missing my family. My wife and kids are always at the beach, surfing, playing in the sand, and laying on the sand. All of our community is of people we met literally on the sand. So yeah, I just missed my wife. I wanted to be with her more because I really, really like her. We like to be together. She’s brilliant. I think a lot of it, through our marriage and our relationship, was her. We fell in love because of surfing. That’s how we met. She gave me a ride to the beach when my car broke down and the rest is history. We’ve been married for almost 16 years.

Her identity as a woman is really important to me. Because we raise children together, I just didn’t want to lose her to being a mom or just a wife. Neither of those are bad things, of course. It’s just our wrestling and talking about life every morning that sparks me. We have a routine where we work out separately, then we sit down before the kids get up. She’s got her tea, I’ve got my tea and we just talk about life. We talk about sex, finances, and friendships, and we check on each others’ hearts. It’s through that time spent together where I’ve seen those pieces of her in the past ten years that have the urge to create as well. She just had so much more to offer than just being my partner and just being the mother to our children. So one day I asked her, “what does this look like if we do this together? I’ve trained hundreds of people how to build surfboards, I think I could train you in a few things, too. It’d be super fun.” And her soul was just like, watered.

“I can’t give you guys the world. I can’t give you all the stuff you see so many others have, but I can give you the wilderness and the ocean. As much as you want, I’ll give it to you.”

Josiash’s father

So we chipped away at it and that was the beginning of it. It took probably about a year of those conversations for me to build up the bravery to say, “we’re going to do this our way. I want to be around you. I want my own creative space and factory where the kids can come and hang out and ask questions and bring their friends. A place where you can come and create and get dirty. A place where we can be together on a deeper level.” That was the internal talk and the more intimate conversations that we would have surrounding why we are here now. I mean, it’s scary as hell being on your own. I walked away from a good-paying salary with great benefits, and we’re both struggling artists now!

We’re teaching our children how to fight for these things. We don’t have a lot, we’re definitely poor living around here, but our kids don’t know. I mean I grew up the same. My dad was an arborist and we didn’t have a lot, so he used to smile and say to us whenever we were outside, “I can’t give you guys the world, I can’t give you all the stuff you see so many others have, but I can give you the wilderness and the ocean. As much as you want, I’ll give it to you.”

That is his legacy of my dad who’s passed. And it’s what we’re giving our children. Our kids have no idea that we’re broke, ha! They think we have so much, running around like the princes and princesses of the ocean. I guess it’s a selfish reason, but I just want to see as much of my children grow as possible; to fall more in love with Crista and to empower her to create and be out there just as much.

I grew up in a male-dominant household, and I really believe that my role as a man in this society is to bring women up. Especially to have little girls, I need to get them onto my shoulders and lift them higher. To help them find their voice and their light in this world.

How old are your four children? 

They are 13, 10, 7 and 5. And that’s it.

That’s it?

Yup. I went to the vet and got neutered!

What was the struggle that lead you to try CBD?

Oh, this can get deep quick, ha! It’s good. I was working for the number one surfboard company in the world. It was a really big break for me and for my career, let’s just say, on my own. Definitely promoting my self through this brand and the top athletic surfers, that competitive style of surfing. It is a very fast-paced environment that I just didn’t grasp. The big break was great, the money and benefits were great, the work culture, the environment, the people there, they’re really great. Still friends with them and work alongside them and that company from time to time. But during that time, I started to realize there was a lot of soul searching going on. I was building a lot, in big blue rooms like this one, alone, listening to a ton of podcasts. There was a lot of introspection going on while I worked. It was a really great place to learn. 

Rewind a long time ago when I was four I was sexually molested by a family member. I can’t even remember how many times it happened, but it was for a long time. All the way until I was about six. So it was kind of this deep dark shaming secret I carried with me. I never told anyone until I told my wife after we had our first child. So about 12 years ago. I told her then I told my mother since there was a link there. I just needed her to know because it was her side of the family. So I started to do the work. I started going to therapy. I had a lot of anxiety because of that, as a kid, looking back, and a lot of depression. It was this manic depression and manic anxiety ping-ponging back and forth. I let that secret out, I just wanted to bring it into the light.

In the shaping days, I listened to a lot of podcasts surrounding psychology, forgiveness, sexuality, trauma, like a lot of that stuff. It was really helping me. It was growing me and I was educating myself on how I’ve been reacting to a lot of that trauma. And also living in so much fear, having children afraid they’d go through that. During that time when I was working through that brand, I’m going through a lot of emotional work which was way harder than the physical work! So the anxiety and depression started to manifest itself a lot more. I quit that job basically because I couldn’t handle the stress from all sides. 

I got medicated heavily. I was on a drug called Eficore, a quick fix antidepressant. Then the max dose of Wellbutrin. The way my body reacted to it, I just felt numb. I was present but numb and not really dealing with the pain and emotion. I just felt like there was a better way. So I quit the job, still on medication. 

Josiah Morris Morin Surfboards

Being in the surf industry there are a lot of people who are stoney, ha. The companies I’ve worked for one is owned by Burton, who is a very pro-cannabis company, great company, and incredible people. So I was always around cannabis but I’ve only smoked three times in high school. It just brought me anxiety because of everything I was already going through. Maybe again and it would just make me flip out. So I started to research it more and thought, there is a better way. I think there’s a way I can sober-mindedly get off these medications and face these emotions in a healthy, honest way that isn’t going to screw up my liver, make me feel numb, or gain a bunch of weight. All these side effects were just ridiculous.

I started taking CBD and immediately change. So I thought, okay there’s something here. So I dropped all my medications cold turkey which was about two years ago, and I was just taking CBD with no THC. It was kind of like this nightly ritual, not every single night but if I knew I was facing some stress coming up then it would just help me get into a zone where I knew I needed to operate. Where I was present and could communicate what I was emoting and share that with my wife and allow intimacy in our marriage and um, ask for help, you know? And support… it just enabled us to function. So that was the introduction to CBD about two years ago, and I haven’t been on medications since.

What lead you to try ONDA CBD products?

Now in December, we were coming back from a Christmas party hosted by a company I work with as a brand ambassador, Iron & Resin, and Crista was driving in upper Ojai in the hills. So we’re driving down a road and I saw a cowboy hat on the side of the road. It was about midnight and I was…. I was pretty toasted. Hah! So I say, “pullover! I want that cowboy hat!” So we pull over and I’m so stoked, just run over and it fits me perfectly. I then look inside and it has this pretty cool saying, “Good roads, bad people. Bad roads, good people.” So I’m like, whoa… so I find the Havstad Hat Company logo and look them up on Instagram. I’ve actually heard of them through a country band I’m into. So I DM them saying, “Hey I found this hat, I’d love to keep it but it looks pretty expensive. I think whoever lost this hat would be pretty bummed. Do you know whose hat this is?” And Cate responds the next morning saying, “I know exactly whose hat that is and he’s in so much trouble! And we just hit it off. She gives me his number and I meet him at the beach, um Stephen, and we just started talking and also immediately hit it off. He was just humbled that I didn’t keep his hat. He had samples on him in his car and just started explaining to us what he was doing and just telling us that we had to try it out.

I feel normal. I don’t feel buzzy, I don’t feel happy or giddy. I feel just how I should feel.

So he gave us about a month’s worth of samples. Crista and I started taking it, and we were just floored at the quality of emotional health that came. We were just stressed, you know? It was Christmas time and the New Year, we had just started our new business and we were just starting to lose that creative drive. And that was scary. It got us anxious and we just got on the tincture and capsules and there was an immediate change. The best way to put it is what Crista said, “I feel normal. I don’t feel buzzy, I don’t feel happy or giddy. I feel just how I should feel.” So that was our introduction to ONDA and we just hit it off with Stephen. Just kept using it, and now I’m out haha!

ONDA is just such a healthy aid for us. We’ve noticed a lot of simple change and help from that supplement. Creativity is the biggest one. Just connecting, you know? We eat healthy, semi-raw, organic. Mostly vegan. Just little aches and pains, headaches, stress and anxiety that hurts my libido, so ONDA has really helped with that. It’s funny, my wife said to me that she has needs too, so ONDA has really helped us connect again. We’re both in our mid-30’s so sexually this should be a very healthy time in our lives. So it was really cool to sync back up. Just being together, laughing together, playing with the kids, being present. That is sex for us, too. And we really noticed that difference.

My sense of gratitude is just so much more amplified

Josiah and Crista Morris ONDA Wellness CBD Products and Supplements
film photo by @iamstephensmith

The biggest for me is when I’m on ONDA supplements and exercising regularly I notice my sense of gratitude is just so much more amplified. And to me, that is key for a struggling artist. Especially with Instagram and all the stuff going on in our culture, it’s so easy to see your peers that are maybe at the same point as you. Starting a business, and them getting a headway or big break and you kind of compare yourself, whether you like it or not. It really wanes on you and robs you of your own program, you know? So coming back to the ONDA products, what we really enjoyed about it was yeah, we feel normal but we also feel grateful. We feel grateful that we’re doing our own thing.

Something we’re actually trying to instill in our children right now is that gratitude brings joy and joy brings creativity. When you’re disconnected from creativity it is usually because you’re unhappy. If you’re unhappy it’s usually because you’re not grateful.

So you can kind of dissect your life through that. 

What we love about the ONDA product is that it was insisting us in gratitude. It was the starting point for us. This is an assistant for us in being leveled. Just to breathe in and look around, and just be grateful. Be grateful for our health, our children’s health, the opportunity we have to create together, for the lifestyle that we live, the people we get to work with and the adult toys we get to build for people to make them happy. It just creates this really cool cycle of health. And it was assistance to that. Yeah, we love it. We’re all in with this product.

Have you explored other CBD brands prior to trying ONDA?

I’ve taken a few other CBD things before, but the market is just so saturated. Now in the surf industry, there are top surfers getting paid millions to endorse their CBD products. I’ve tried them and I don’t know, not really special. It’s not the same as ONDA. I don’t feel like I do when I use our ONDA stuff.

Would you recommend ONDA to a friend?

Oh yeah, easy. We know it works. We’re really happy about it.

Thanks for tuning in! To learn more about Josiah and Crista’s business, and what the family is up to, follow along on Instagram @morinsurfboards