Just a few short months ago, Moniker General opened its doors to the public and since then they have been gathering community around coffee, beer, and quality local goods. Coming up on August 25th the shop will once again be bringing people together for a “Meet the Shaper” night where guests get the opportunity to meet Dominic Picone of Affinitá Surf Craft, one local maker featured in the shop. Affinitá is Italian for kinship, which is appropriate for Dominic’s vision for his company. “When people order a board from me, I want them to have the best, unique experience in the process. These days everything is so ‘have it right now’ that I feel like the personal or custom aspect of things has been lost in a lot of ways. So I want people to get a true 100% hand-shaped and custom experience for the board they are looking for…. a very grass roots way of business: allowing and wanting people to come visit me at my shop, watch their board get shaped and really be a part of the entire process. People shouldn’t have to change their style of surfing in order to buy a board off the shelf, they should buy a board that fits their surfing style and the waves they are trying to ride.”
Dominic started shaping purely out of curiosity. He says once he shaped his first board with guidance from a friend, he couldn’t get his mind off of it. So he sold all of his boards that he had purchased in the past to buy some blanks and get started. One afternoon while browsing through Bird’s Surf Shed, he came across a Marshall Surfboard. He didn't know too much about Mike Marshall, but said that he couldn't take his eyes and hands off of the board and knew it had to be in his quiver. Mike Marshall was a legendary shaper who passed away 6 years ago. He is well known in the Orange County/Los Angeles area, shaped for many years with Harbour Surfboards and created the famous Trestles Special. Mike also started the Blackies Surf Club in Newport Beach. A few weeks after purchasing the board, Dominic returned to Birds and the owner (Bird Huffman) gave him the contact info of Sharon Marshall (Mike Marshall’s wife), who heard that there were 5 Marshall boards being sold at Birds and went down to try to pick them up because Mike only shaped the Marshall brand boards for family and close friends. After a few emails and phone calls exchanged, Dominic says he and Sharon became “best friends”. He shared with her his dreams of becoming a shaper and how honored he is to own one of her husband’s boards. Since meeting, Sharon has taken Dominic under her wing and welcomed him into a very special surf community and just recently, allowed him to shape Mike Marshall’s famous “Trestles Special” board in his shaping bay.
Shortly after meeting Sharon, Dominic found inspiration for his business on a trip to Italy to visit family. He discovered that despite the country not being one of the top destinations for surfing, the love of surf culture still runs deep in many of the coastal cities. He was able to connect with a few of the local shops and even made some new friends. They brought him to surf at their local surf spots and welcomed him graciously into their shops (Naive in Empoli, WHITE in Florence, Dr. Ank Surfboards in Pisa and Settembre Surf in Palermo) and their homes. Inspired by the amazing sense of hospitality, and the culture, Affinitá Surf Craft began. Living in a city that is well known for its surf culture, there are countless aspiring and well-established shapers, but Affinitá stands apart. “Not too many shapers will allow or even want people to come hang out, talk about the board that fits their needs, and then watch their board get shaped. The experience is a big deal to me. If someone can see exactly what is going into making their surfboard, they have a whole new appreciation and even more stoke to get in the water.” Dominic loves being able to say that his boards are sold in the Arts District of Liberty Station. “The Arts District is a very unique place for our city. I love being able to say I have my boards there because people just wouldn’t expect them there necessarily since there are no actual surf shops. But I do not want to just be another shaper with his boards only in surf shops. Hand shaped surfboards are a work of art and they should be displayed as such. That doesn’t mean sold for crazy amounts of money, but I do want my boards to be seen as beautiful pieces of functional art.” Dominic shapes all of his boards out of the Moniker Warehouse on 16th street downtown and sells his boards out of Moniker General and through his online shop. For more information about Affinitá Surf Craft, visit affinitasurf.com, check out his Instagram @affinita_surf and join your friends at Moniker General on August 25th to meet Dominic and talk dreams, craft, and enjoy a beer or three.