In 2014, the world had begun to discover the power of GoPro and social media, but the hypnotic duo wasn’t quite ready for what surfers kept doing with that small-but-mighty camera. Tossin’ tonsil wasn’t just reserved for those surf competition after parties—for GoPro, surfer’s also swapped saliva to get that down-the-line barrel clip so their girlfriend would do the same (read: did his mouth taste like foam rubber?).
But a college kid from Wisconsin saw an opportunity and spent many late nights at the San Diego Public Library creating an injection mold prototype from a 3D printer to accommodate surfer’s oral fixation and the rest is Ho Stevie! history.
Fast forward eight years later and that kid Steve Mara, founder of Ho Stevie!, built the biggest surf brand available on Amazon. Its mission is to bring surfers the best quality, best price and best service for surf gear like fins, leashes, traction decks, softtops and even wetties. Running a business as busy as Ho Stevie! is no easy task, that’s why he has his other half, wifey Basak, a.k.a. ‘B’, tackling the mountain of responsibility alongside him. Two heads are definitely better than one!
What’s your favorite thing about running the business with your wife?
It’s the best! We get to bounce ideas off each other all the time, and get instant feedback about everything. It’s especially helpful when she’s editing our videos. We can come up with ideas and go film them instantly, instead of scheduling times to do that like most companies have to do.
Do you both surf? Who’s more competitive for waves?
Haha she tries (to surf) sometimes! The water temp has been about as warm as it gets here, for the past week or two, so she has been paddling out for a few waves with me on our 8’2” soft top.
And of course, I’m out there every day … even if the conditions are bad, I try to at least hit my 3 wave quota every day.
What does surfing mean to you?
FUN. And health. It’s so nice to start every morning with an hour or two in the ocean. It’s a good workout, it’s being out in nature, socializing, being in the sun, cold water therapy… there are so many reasons why surfing is the best.
Goofy or regular?
Sex Wax or Sticky Bumps?
Anything! We actually have Ho Stevie! Wax, but it’s all the same to me, as long as you choose the right temperature.
Favorite surf IG account? Why?
Hmmm hard to pick just one, but a funny one I recently discovered is @thegreenroomtimes, guaranteed to get a good laugh from it.
Gotta be Mason Ho. He surfs the sketchiest spots and is always smiling.
North Shore or Big Wednesday?
North Shore for sure.
How would your wife describe what it’s like to run a business with you?
From B: We definitely have so much fun working together, and we are a good team. Steve is really easy to work with. He knows what he wants, how he wants it exactly.
What was catching your first wave like? How old were you, where were you?
Luckily, I stood up during my first day of surfing! In college, I flew from Wisconsin with my roommate to visit his sister (my first ever flight) and they took us to La Jolla Shores. I don’t know how I managed to stand up, but I did, lots of times, and I fell in love with it.
That’s when I decided I wanted to live here. I moved out here a year later, easily my best decision ever.
I had a couple of bad ones back-to-back recently.
I got towed into a 15-foot wave at Nazaré, which was awesome, but then when the jetski driver wanted to play in the whitewash, my face smashed the ski sled and I broke my nose.
About a month after that, just when I had started surfing again, I fell on a wave and when I came up for air, my board was flying towards me and I couldn’t duck out of the way in time. It smashed into my mouth, and when I felt my lip with my fingers, I thought it cut my lip all the way off!
I ran home and looked in the mirror, and thankfully my upper lip was just split in half. Wifey drove me to the emergency room where they put 5 beautiful stitches in my lip, and a few months later you can hardly notice the scar!
My go-to spot is just out front of my place in Mission Beach. It’s definitely not the best wave, but it’s probably the least crowded spot in San Diego. I’ll take quantity over quality when it comes to waves.
Most recommended surf destination? Why?
I LOVE Central America. I need warm water if I’m going on a surf trip. Bali was cool too, but it’s suuuch long flight. My favorite place is probably Salina Cruz, but honestly, I’m happy anywhere with waves and 85-degree water.
What makes Ho Stevie’s products unique?
The price and convenience. Some of our gear is half the price of the big brands! You can buy everything online with free fast shipping, or stop by our San Diego shop, so it doesn’t get more convenient than that.
And we take care of our customers and answer every question … I hate it when companies ignore customer questions. You can see it on pretty much every company’s Instagram posts.
Most popular product? Why?
Probably our surfboard socks and canvas board bags. Always a good idea to protect your board, and if you’re driving to and from the beach, this prevents wax from melting onto your car’s interior.
What are your plans for Ho Stevie!?
I just bought a warehouse! We quickly outgrew our retail location in Pacific Beach, so we will be moving into our warehouse and focusing on our online presence. We will be bringing more high-quality, low-price gear to all the surfers out there. Our men’s wetsuits were a big hit this year, so next up is women’s wetsuits.
And I want to put out even more video content than we already do… we have a lot of great ideas for skits, we just need to put them into action.
Gotta keep the people entertained!
Absolutely, Steve & B.
Their YouTube page is pretty killer, too.
All Photos Courtesy of: Ho Stevie!