Newburyport craftsman Henry Fox and his two teenage sons turn a personal passion for longboarding into a surprisingly successful enterprise.
The interesting thing about FoxBoys Longboards of Newburyport is that it wasn’t intended to be a business success story. The offshoot of a personal desire to make longboards for transportation has turned into something of a neighborhood phenomenon, with build-your-own workshops giving friends an opportunity to “create something.”
If you’ve ever skateboarded or scootered around town, you’ll understand the appeal of having your own longboard. It’s the eco-friendly alternative to bumming a ride and the ultimate in two-footed mobility. It’s also a way to “show off your colors,” according to FoxBoys, with a custom look that matches your personality.
Henry Fox of Fox Brothers Furniture Studio has been crafting handmade items for the past 20 years and is well known in Newburyport, and locations further afield, for his creative and contemporary design. His teenage sons, William and Orren, have inherited a modified interest in the business, fiddling around with woodcraft like shop class students, albeit in a “master class” setting.
The two brothers have accomplished something amazing: They have managed to generate momentum for their handcrafted longboards operation with only limited time together in Newburyport, since both have been students at prep schools on opposite coasts of the country. Will graduated from Deerfield Academy in May, while younger brother “O” continues his studies at the Thacher School in Ojai, California. During a summer break two years ago, the duo launched FoxBoys—a “meeting of longboards and furniture.”
The popularity of the longboard-building workshops has been something of a surprise to the entire Fox team. Promoted solely via word of mouth and a lively Facebook page, the sessions have attracted significant interest among North Shore folks. Dad and the boys oversee the use of the power tools to create a deck for a customized longboard, while Mom, a graphic artist and brand identity specialist, sells self-designed logo wear. “We had participants ranging in age from five to 40 last time,” notes the senior Fox. “They sawed and sanded their deck from our wood, drilled holes for the truck and wheels, and took home a piece ready to finish with materials from a local bike shop.”
Where will FoxBoys go from here? It depends on whether Orren will have time to devote to the enterprise when he’s not beekeeping, raising chickens, or studying. As for recent high school grad Will, he’s off to enjoy a gap year before college, with stops in Patagonia and NYC—perhaps picking up cool new design ideas along the way. Find FoxBoys on Facebook, and visit foxbros.com.