Creators of YOLO Paddleboard Catch Wave of Success
Chairmen of the BoardsTwo Emerald Coast entrepreneurs find success with their feet planted firmly on the water By Wendy O. Dixon
You only live once,” say the co-creators of the YOLO paddleboard, Jeff Archer and Tom Losee. Both led successful lives in different parts of the country before moving to the Emerald Coast and founding their Santa Rosa Beach company in 2006. Since then, YOLO has quickly gained a reputation as the board of choice for the fastest-growing water sport — stand-up paddleboarding.
As a child in Baton Rouge, La., Archer’s creative spirit was blooming. He set up a lucrative vegetable stand with fresh vegetables from local farmers. His early success in business ignited his entrepreneurial spirit. In his early 20s, he set out for California, where he became co-owner of the fitness clothing company Crazee Wear, capturing a niche market in the garment industry and turning the company into a multimillion-dollar corporation.
After a successful career as an entrepreneur in several other business ventures, including Yellowtail Trading Co. in Destin, Archer teamed up with Losee to create the business of their dreams, YOLO Board LLC.
Losee, a Long Island, N.Y., native, comes from a family with a strong creative background. His father had an illustrious career with a renowned magazine publishing company, and his grandfather was a pioneer in the early advertising days of New York City. The creative gene carried on through Losee, who earned a B.A. in art history at Duke University and then moved to the Big Apple to pursue a career in advertising.
Losee realized at an early age that he enjoyed being his own boss and opened his first business, Hub City Coffee Co., in 1994 in Hattiesburg, Miss. Next, he turned his love for the outdoors into a full-time job and opened Sun Landscape in 1998. That business ultimately brought Losee to the South Walton area when he decided to relocate in 2002. YOLO came next.
YOLO is the brand name for their line of stand-up paddleboards, which incorporate a combination of surfing and traditional canoeing or kayaking.
“The YOLO Board offers a completely different way to experience the water, whether it’s for a quick workout or an all-day adventure. The name YOLO reflects both the sport and Tom’s mantra, ‘You Only Live Once,’ ” says Archer.
The company manufactures four types of boards: the Original YOLO, The YOLO Express, the YOLO Explorer and the YOLO Yak.
The Original YOLO can be used by both novices and experienced riders. At 12 feet long and 3 feet wide, it is stable enough for even a beginner to hop on and cruise along the area’s many flat-waters.
For ladies and kids, the Express is a perfect fit. It measures 9 feet, 6 inches, is lighter than the Original YOLO and has a handle for easy transport.
The Explorer is 14 feet long and has a bungee system on front and back for storage.
The newest model, the YOLO Yak, is the first full-adventure board. Made of the same material as a kayak, the Yak is more durable, more versatile and less expensive. It comes with a fitted front bungee system to allow for crab traps or a storage cooler. This model can hold a complete fishing system with pole holders for the rods, so you can troll for fish while paddling on the board.
“My son, Jack, loves to get out and search for crabs,” Archer says.
The growth prospects for the business are strong, says Archer. The pair of entrepreneurs plans to continue with product expansion and marketing along the coastline of the U.S., Japan and Australia.