Mañana Embraces Surf Culture with New Shop on South Lamar
Entrepreneur Alec Cameron aims to grow his Texas-based wakesurf board company into a national lifestyle brand
By Bryan C. Parker
Photos by Weston Carls
The tedium of a day job has motivated entrepreneurs for centuries. In 2014, Alec Cameron graduated from college and found himself staring down the impending doom of life spent sitting at a desk. Cameron craved freedom, and had spent most of his youth surfing on vacations to the Gulf Coast — Galveston, Corpus Christi, South Padre.
A naturally curious kid, his years of oceanside conversations afforded him a trove of knowledge about the materials and processes used in making surfboards. So he moved into his mom’s garage in West Austin and started hand-making surfboards.
Cameron sold his TV to get the material to make the first board, and the sale of each board financed the next one, along with a few tools he needed to acquire or upgrade. He specialized in custom designs. If you wanted a board with an image of your dog inlaid on mahogany wood, Cameron was your guy.
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Looking back, he calls the endeavor “fun but not sustainable.” The business was too niche to scale production, and it was taking an enormous physical toll on Cameron.
“It relied on me hand-making everything,” he explains. “You take a block of foam and carve a surfboard out of it — it’s like sculpture.” Interminable hours spent sanding, shaping and lifting boards had left him with two torn rotator cuffs. Cameron remembers going to the bank to deposit a check one day, and not even being able to lift his arm high enough to get the envelope out of the window into the deposit slot.
While making boards in Austin, his deep love of surfing turned him onto the rising trend of wakesurfing, a sport very similar to wakeboarding, but without the boat pulling the rider. Instead, the surfer trails behind the boat and uses the wake just as one uses a wave in the ocean. As an inlander who always had to travel to surf, wakesurfing was a revelation, and gave Cameron an outlet for his passion after days spent toiling away shaping boards.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic finally ended Cameron’s first chapter as a surfboard mogul, but he wasn’t ready to leave the practice behind. At the beginning of 2021, he bought a one-way ticket to San Diego, purchased a cheap van, and drove it down onto Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. There, he found a warehouse large enough and cheap enough to launch a much more expansive enterprise. Adopting the ethos of the slow pace of life he found in Mexico, Cameron called the new business Mañana, the Spanish word for “tomorrow,” and a frequently invoked phrase that connotes patience and implies that any given task will get done eventually.
His new venture kept the quality, durability and custom feel of the boards Cameron had been making for years, but he recruited a team to make sure the operation didn’t hinge completely on his manual labor. At first he hired anyone he could find and trained them up, but the factory has since garnered a staff with substantial experience making surfboards.
With the factory up and running, Cameron began making trips back and forth between Baja California and Austin, where he sold boards manufactured south of the border. He found an old pontoon boat and stripped it completely, transforming it into a floating store that sells wakesurfing boards right in the middle of Town Lake under the Highway 360 bridge every weekend.
“Austin is the capital of wakesurfing,” Cameron says, pointing out that Central Texas had two surf parks long before most states had one. According to him, there’s a hunger for surfing in Austin, and the lifestyle of the city meshes well with surfing culture. Cameron believes that some areas of the country have become spoiled by the luxury of consistently great surfing conditions. Being an inlander and learning how to surf wherever and whenever possible has given Texas surfers like him the skills to be able to hang ten with the best of them, Cameron claims. Even as Mañana aims to be a national brand, its Texas roots are important to the company’s founder.
This July, Mañana undertakes its next major milestone, as the company opens a brick and mortar store on South Lamar. The shop will sell wakesurfing boards and traditional surfboards and have a shaping room onsite to showcase the manufacturing process. The vision for the store transcends surfing, as Mañana will be an entire lifestyle brand with a clothing line of high-end casual wear, including everything from board shorts to stylish crew neck sweaters.
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From the waters of Town Lake to the shores of Baja California, Cameron has learned to ride the waves, gliding easily from one adventure to the next.
“I came to about a dozen dead ends in my career,” Cameron says, looking back. But with a true surfer’s perseverance, he always managed to stay afloat.