“I was pushing the boundaries,
but there’s no other way to be successful.”
Written by Charlotte Bateman, 1 January 2019
Accomplishing our goals leads to a great sense of pride. During the New Year, many of us take time to reflect and set new goals for our future toward further achievement. We often forget how little control we have of the future, and even the present moment. When Get Up Stand Up Surf (GSUP) CEO Marcos Pereira found himself in the middle of war-gripped Nicaragua, he was reminded quickly. Goals and ambitions came to an abrupt halt as he was forced into new territory and obliged to adapt.
“2018 started as the best year ever, but turned into a rollercoaster,” says Pereira. “We started selling bikinis and sales were great. The brand was growing fast. Then we had the political crisis and I had to move to El Salvador to open a shop. Thinking back over the entire year, I believe the greatest accomplishment was surviving.”
Protests in Nicaragua began unexpectedly on April 18, 2018 according to EuroNews. People hit the streets in protest against reform to Nicaragua’s social security system, which would have seen the country’s pension benefits trimmed. There was a violent crackdown by the government in which close to 400 people were killed and thousands injured, claimed NGOs and human rights organisations. The protests were peaceful at first but spiralled into a wider opposition of President Daniel Ortega’s government.
This was crippling for local businesses. Most of them had to close, including GSUP. “All the tourists left, scared of the violence. All the NGO’s left and businesses shut down. Our factory was still operating, but the shop had to be closed.”
The company that Pereira had started with a few surfboards seemed to be crumbling.
“There was so much going on in my mind that I wanted to give up. But I thought of my employees, I thought of the company, I thought of our clients, I thought of everything I had done for the past six years. The story of the company is so amazing, it was so special to create GSUP. I knew people were relying on me and thought I still had a chance. I had a little money saved, enough to keep going, so I did.”
But starting from zero takes time and patience. Pereira drove all the way to El Salvador unsure of what to expect. “Starting from scratch was very, very hard. It’s a different country, and even different currency. I didn’t know anybody. I was living in a hostel. I had to leave my comfort zone and take a risk. Being in a different place is not easy.”
Pereira’s first step to rebuild was selling shirts out of his hostel room. Over time, he wanted to create a stronger presence in the community where he had settled in El Salvador. With the last of his savings, he built a completely new store from the ground up. He stocked it with his swimwear and newly designed surfboards, and GSUP El Tunco was open for business.
“I felt like I was pushing the boundaries, but there’s no other way to be successful. I had no other option. I had to go straight forward and open the shop. I trusted. You never really know until you open a shop and make it happen, but you do what you have to do, you need to try. If you never try, you never know.” And the bravery to take a chance has paid off. GSUP shirts can already be found dotting the beaches of El Tunco, and has become the swimwear of choice for many local surfers. “We couldn’t have had a better beginning. It has been amazing. People are really accepting the brand, and for the beginning of a shop, it has been incredible.”
Beyond this satisfaction are the lessons learned. “A lot of things have changed because of the crisis in Nicaragua. It made us grow, it made me more humble, and it made me further realize how much I love the brand and appreciate the hard work of my employees. It gave me perspective about how much I was working, I saw that I needed to find time for enjoyment. It taught me to take things a little easier and enjoy the moment. El Tunco is awesome because we are by the beach and the waves are good. Now I divide my time, I surf a little and work a little. I enjoy the process, but also enjoy my life. I feel more free.”
“Great things are waiting for you outside of your comfort zone. I took a risk coming here to open a new shop, a little nerve wracking and out of my comfort zone, but now I see great things happening. We have to accept what we can’t control and be the change. We can’t prevent change, but it’s hard sometimes to actually be part of it. Having a comfort zone can be beautiful, but it keeps you in the same place. Getting out of my comfort zone made me grow as a person, and has made us grow as a company.”
Equipped with a successful new surf shop, greater knowledge and insight, and a more balanced lifestyle, Pereira is moving into 2019 a stronger person and business. He already has new swimwear, designs, fabrics, and boardshorts to be launched in the new year, and is introducing GSUP into multiple new countries. He continues to combat waste throughout his business operation by employing environmentally sustainable standards, human rights violations with fair trade, and challenges with determination. Moving forward with his brand Pereira continues to prove that you can start small and make a big difference; with courage, determination and faith to take risks, you can succeed in the face of challenge.