Connections aren’t just formed between classmates at Edinburgh Napier. The societies and sports clubs of the Edinburgh Napier Student Association (ENSA) allow students from different years, subjects and Schools to meet and develop friendships based on mutual interests. The founders of two alumni-owned businesses met through a sports club and are currently working together to produce sustainable surf products. Find out more below!

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Braw Surf is an independent Scottish surf brand based in Edinburgh. It was founded in January 2020 by three individuals who met through Edinburgh Napier’s Surf Club. They are, Donald Inglis, BA(Hons) Marketing Management with Entrepreneurship 2019; Tonie Nguyen, MA Interaction Design 2019; and former ENSA staff-member, Oscar James.  

Surf waxIt’ll come as no surprise to learn that surfers are passionate about the environment and Braw Surf is no exception. Having a love of the outdoors and witnessing the impact climate change has on the natural environment motivated the Braw Surf team to produce the 100% organic, Cold & Cool Water Surf Wax.

Most industry standard surf waxes contain the crude oil biproduct, paraffin. Cold and Cool Water Surf Wax avoids this and is instead made with beeswax and pine resin, along with some secret ingredients. Braw Surf try to source as many as possible of these ingredients from local suppliers in an effort to keep shipping emissions down.  

And Braw Surf’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop there.  

Rather than house the wax in traditional cardboard packaging, customers are encouraged to buy a sustainable case with their first surf wax purchase that can be used again and again. 

Alumnus Barnabas Cox standing in front of his business, OpenFactoryThis is where the story switches to another ENU alumnus, Barnabas Cox.  

2019 BEng(Hons) Electronic Engineering graduate, Barnabas Cox, is the founder of OpenFactory – a 3D printing workshop based in Edinburgh. OpenFactory create the wax cases, wax moulds and a handful of other goods for Braw Surf. All the products are made using a combination of wood and a 3D printed bioplastic made from corn-starch called PLA to ensure they fit in with Braw Surf’s sustainability ethos. 

Like the Braw Surf trio, Barnabas was active in ENSA during his time at Edinburgh Napier. He was Social Secretary of MakerHub, a society for people who love making things, and was President of the Snowsports Sports Club. It was through this that Barnabas met Donald from Braw Surf, all the way back in first year!  

Using the resources available at Edinburgh Napier

OpenFactory and Braw Surf both officially launched in 2020, and the entrepreneurs took advantage of the support offered by the University's Bright Red Triangle (BRT).

Barnabas made the decision to launch his company on graduation day in 2019. He spent the next few months writing a business plan, and OpenFactory opened their doors in January 2020.   

In recent months, he has taken part in BRT’s Summer Accelerator Program which has allowed him to fine tune his business.

“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster. As you can imagine, I wasn’t expecting a global pandemic to be the biggest challenge to come my way! It’s been a trial by fire!”

As a student, Donald Inglis of Braw Surf benefited from the expertise available at BRT as he sought their advice about previous business ideas he had. He also had the opportunity to travel to Germany for the APE Enterprise Challenge. Now an alumnus, Donald joined Barnabas and took part in BRT’s Summer Accelerator Program.

“Honestly, I wish I started projects like these earlier. I feel that the things I’ve learnt over the past 12 months are lessons only brought to you by doing the work and sticking your neck out. My recommendation for graduates would be to get out there and taste the real thing.”

ENU is making waves 

Jamie Marshall is currently studying for a world first PhD in Surf Therapy at Edinburgh Napier.  

During a difficult time at secondary school, Jamie turned to surfing to help provide an escape from his own anxiety related to feelings of not fitting in and dealing with bullying. Planning his next surfing trip gave him something to look forward to and he immediately fell in love with the sport. 

He continued surfing throughout university and founded the Scottish arm of Wave Project in Dunbar. Over the next five years, Jamie transformed it from an initial pilot with 20 young people, to working alongside more than 100 young people a year in partnership with the NHS’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). 

Studying at Edinburgh Napier University, in collaboration with the University of New South Wales, Jamie’s PhD will seek to understand the theory behind a range of organisations around the world using surfing to combat challenges associated with mental health, disability, poverty and adverse environments. 

Learn more 

Braw Surf 
Open Factory 
Jamie Marshall’s PhD 
Published November 2020