Alumnus Dan Thwaite and Smart Leash Co

Published in Issue 4 - 2016

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Dan Thwaite

Dan Thwaite

When your work and passion collide, it becomes what is known as an ‘idealist career’.

Southern Cross Alumnus Daniel Thwaite has used his skills in IT and education and his passion for surfing and conservation to found an Australian-first venture Smart Leash Co — selling individual parts of surf leashes – also known as leg ropes or ‘leggies’ where the surf board is attached to the ankle.

“I recently launched Smart Leash Co to supply the highest quality surf leashes and their parts,” he said.

“If you break a leash, you only have to replace the broken part and not the entire leash which saves money and reduces waste and landfill.”

“It is the only leash brand in Australia selling the parts of the leash and is currently stocked in all Patagonia surf retail stores in Australia and a few other independent stores.”

Daniel is currently working from the USA and Canada until the end of the year to set up operations in the Americas and make the most of the surf breaks during his travels.

“I get excited when the swell is about to come in – I like having my finger on the pulse,” he said.

“I’m the guy who puts protein bars in my wetsuits so I don’t have to come in from the surf. But when you manage to surf a lot you tend to also break a lot of leashes. I’ve kept all the broken ones in my garage at home, because I like to be resourceful and I hate throwing them out.

“A lot of the time when a leash breaks, people don’t realise they still have plenty of perfectly-good Velcro components like the ankle cuff and the rail saver that up until now you just had to throw out.”

Daniel graduated from the Southern Cross University with a Bachelor of Information Technology majoring in information systems in 2003, before returning to complete a Graduate Diploma of Education in 2009.

When he’s in Australia Daniel works casually as a high school teacher alongside his entrepreneurial venture to have a more flexible work schedule, and travels abroad to research and collaborate with surf industry partners. Daniel’s degree in IT has assisted greatly in setting up his business model and website.

During University he was part of the SCU Board Riders club, often travelled, surfed and played music and said he enjoyed the smaller class sizes and sense of community on campus.

“When I first moved to the North Coast for my Bachelor’s degree, I didn’t know anyone, but made friends with whom I ended up living and have stayed friends with for 15 years and counting,” the Ballina local said.

“SCU has great connections with local schools so the second time around I wanted to study education somewhere close to where I lived.

“The best thing about my uni experience was the location. I was able to surf most days!”

As well as working in IT, Daniel has held roles in the surf industry, in surf shops and hospitality.

It was the contacts he made in those jobs that have helped his pipe dream emerge.

“I came up with the idea mid-2015 and through my contacts in the surf industry I was able to source a supplier of some of the leading brands in the industry,” he said.

“The hardest part is being sure my surf leash parts are compatible with as many other brands as possible, so that the parts can be interchanged when they break – but I think we’ve done a good job in covering off most of the major ones.”

Daniel says the Smart Leash Co products are set apart because they are designed with a minimalist ethos.  The only packaging is the swingtag, which is actually a drink coaster.  There is no cardboard sleeve like other brands, so the leashes don’t kink out of shape.

“By swapping out broken parts of your old leashes with new Smart Leash Co premium parts, you are not only giving your leash extra life, but you are saving money and reducing landfill,” he said.

“Our products are proudly packaged in Northern NSW which provides local jobs as well as investing in the local community.”

Daniel lists his personal long-term career goals include ‘working from anywhere’ while keeping his home base in Ballina.

“As much as I love travelling the world, I love coming home to the North Coast. Moving here for University is one of the best choices I ever made.”

Check out Daniel Thwaite’s Smart Leash Co.

Smart Leash Co

Smart Leash Co

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