Meet James Petitto, a man who traded spreadsheets for skateboards. His journey from a two-decade career in corporate finance to founding Deviate Board Co, a longboard-making company, is not just about a career change. It’s a story of following one’s heart into the world of longboard crafting.
In a remarkable shift from a career in corporate finance to the creative world of longboarding. demonstrates the courage to embrace change. His journey from crafting a simple scooter as a child to designing innovative longboards as an adult is not just inspiring, but also a testament to following one’s passion.
The roots of his longboarding venture trace back to his childhood experiences. “I remember building a scooter with my grandpa using just an old skate and some scrap wood,” he recalls.
This early adventure in making something functional and fun from mere scraps laid the groundwork for his future endeavors. It was this early exposure to creating and building that ignited a lifelong love for crafting.
Surfing and Skating in NYC
Living away from the ocean in New York City, James found a way to blend his love for surfing with the urban landscape. The turning point came with a gift from his wife, a longboard that didn’t quite meet his expectations.
He reflects, “The longboard my wife gifted me didn’t quite cut it, so I thought, why not make my own?” This led to the birth of Deviate Board Co., a fusion of his passion for surfing and the unique energy of New York City streets.
From Finance to Freedom
The transition from a high-pressure job in finance to pursuing a passion for longboarding wasn’t sudden. It was the culmination of many factors, including the stress of long work hours and a health scare. “I looked at my life and thought, this isn’t it.
I needed to be there more for my family and for myself.” This moment of introspection led to the bold decision to leave his secure job and venture into the uncertain yet exciting world of entrepreneurship.
The Art of Longboard Making
His approach to creating longboards is spontaneous and hands-on. “I don’t plan it out much. I see something that inspires me, sketch a bit, and start working with my hands.”
This philosophy of learning through doing has led to a range of unique and finely crafted longboards. Each board is not just a product but a story of exploration and experimentation.
Balancing Family and Business
Juggling the responsibilities of running Deviate Board Co. and being present for his family is a challenge he navigates daily.
“It’s a constant juggle, but I try to keep my head where my feet are – if I’m with my family, that’s where my focus is.” His commitment to both his business and his family life is a delicate balancing act, but one that he finds deeply fulfilling.
“Combining woodworking with my love for surfing really took off when I was living in Manhattan and Brooklyn. My wife gifted me a longboard one Christmas, but I wasn’t fully satisfied with its shape. That’s when I decided to take on the challenge of making my own, and that’s how I got hooked.”
Overcoming Challenges and Looking Ahead
Starting his own business brought its own set of challenges, especially in marketing and building a customer base. “Getting noticed was tough. I had to learn the ropes of online marketing and customer engagement from scratch.”
“What I was a bit surprised by was how hard it was to get noticed and how difficult it was to find and connect with the right audience.”
JHis journey is a learning curve, filled with patience and perseverance. Looking to the future, he envisions Deviate Board Co. as more than just a longboard company, but as a community hub for longboarding enthusiasts.
Words of Wisdom for Career Changers
For those thinking about a career change, his advice is heartfelt and practical. “Take your time and really think about why you’re doing it. It’s not just about running from something, but running towards something that matters to you.” His story is a reminder that changing careers is not just about the risks, but about aligning your work with your passions and values.
The story of Deviate Board Co. is not just about the creation of longboards. It’s about the courage to follow your heart, the art of balancing work and life, and the joy of turning a passion into a livelihood.
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