Juan Smit is the all-round nicest guy ever, he skates for enjoi and Revolution, he’s a fireman, and runs Snap Originals, where he “upcycles” broken and used skateboard decks into some pretty awesome things. We find his DIY approach to life inspiring, so we caught up with him for a quick interview…
How Afrikaans are you, from a scale of 1 – 10?
10 being the highest? I’m probably a 12, haha.
Where did you get the idea to start Snap Originals?
Kieron Mans, a close friend, was a big influence. I saw him making a platter and a spoon once for his college project at the time and asked him if I could start playing around with some new ideas. Kieron moved back to Namibia and I started getting good at it and started to get clients and that’s that. Now here we are three years later.
What creation are you most stoked on so far?
All of them. I can see I’ve got better and better in my craft work over the years. I think progress and improvement is a big factor in this industry, where client’s ideas and input to improve the product helps a lot. I’ll say the yoyo though just because it brings so much joy and it’s so simple.
What inspires your creations?
Google, haha. No, I’ll say it’s clients, and sometimes mistakes, believe it or not. I’ll be busy with one product and see a new creation in it, don’t ask me why. Clients are also a big help; they’ll ask me sometimes if it is possible to make something, then I’ll play around with it and tell them yes or no.
What does skateboarding mean to you?
Well, let’s say everything till now. Freedom, friendship, good times, being creative, traveling, pushing your limits. If I didn’t put my feet on this plank with four wheels 15 years ago we wouldn’t be having this interview now. I’m glad I followed this route in life. Not one regret.
Do you get a lot of romantic interest being a firefighter?
Yes and no, chicks don’t actually fall to my feet if I tell them my job description, if that’s what you asking. Firefighters also have this reputation of being dogs with ladies, haha, but Ive got some digits, some lucky nights…
What else do you get up to when you aren’t skating?
I exercise a lot, jog almost every day with my dogs; beach, trails or just in the neighbourhood, surf with my homies. I fucking LOVE Motorsport so I go watch that a lot; track events, drag racing, stock cars, dirt racing… I’m also a bit of a green thumb in the garden, planting and finding cacti plants. Then the usual: movies, braaiing, camping… yeah.
Where do you hope to take Snap Originals? Is it just a hobby or something you’d like to turn into a bigger thing?
It’s a passion/hobby/small business I guess. I just like making stuff for people and why not if i can make cash from it – ‘extra income’ – and I’ll probably do this until I’m 80. It keeps you young and your mind healthy.
What do you think is a good way to motivate people to start thinking more ‘DIY’ and stop being complacent and lazy?
It’s a good way to save money! Taking something old and making it look new. Have pride in your creation or work. The first step comes from you. If you want to there’s always that question “what if?” Stay positive and keep true to your roots.