Jon Paskowitz - Surfer, Lightning Bolt USA

Jon Paskowitz is one of the members of the legendary Paskowitz surfing family. The famous family of 11 is known across the globe. The head of family, Doc, raised and homeschooled his 9 children in a campervan with his wife Juliette. Jon started his adult professional career in the world of marketing. He pioneered Black Flys, a sunglasses company, and was head of marketing for Gotcha, a global sportswear company with 5 brands. Since 1998, Jonathan has been freelancing as marketing strategist for a variety of brands like Earthlink, Tommy Hilfiger and Fab Optix. He’s also tried his luck in the film industry. Jon is currently the president of Lightning Bolt USA.

Tell us a bit about your childhood and the influence surfing had on you growing up? 

Well I think most people know I grew up with eight brothers, one of them a girl, in a camper with my mom and dad surfing around the world. We didn't go to school, our school was surfing. The question should be what did not relate to surfing that influenced my life? Because everything in my life is influenced by surfing. I was born in a blessed time. I got to surf with Duke Kahanamoku and now I'm surfing with Kelly Slater. I got to see the entire modern evolution of surfing. The evolution of surfing is a lot easier to define than the evolution of the society of surfers. Back in the day surfers were extremely loyal and very particular about everything they used that represented who they were. I think that today with such peer pressure at lightspeed we don't get a chance to see that definition. 

What do you love about surfing? 

I love the nature. I love surfing with my friends. I love the ocean and there's something magical when you catch a wave. That feeling of speed and exhilaration… there's nothing like it. There's a primal reward in catching a wave, that's why you see dolphins doing it, because there's something magical and organic about it that doesn't exist on dry-land.

Is there a stand out wave or session that sticks in your mind? 

All the good times are kind of compressed into one vision of being in a tube of blue water all around me and gliding silently on the face of a smooth perfect wave. Unfortunately the moments that stand out were moments of pain or fear. Most notably my near drowning experience at Sunset Beach when I was surfing with Herbie back in the day. All I can say is that's as close as you can get to having your ticket punched. Outer body experience at all.

What kind of education have you had? 

Like my dad said the ocean was our teacher. I've had no practical education. It's all been trial and error.

What was your first job?

Cleaning toilets in Israel. There's not much I can elaborate on. I will say they don't use toilet. It's mostly all pilot to bombardier method.

What is your role at Lightning Bolt and what does it entail? 

My role has always been managing. My partners have had some financial problems, so were trying to start again by buying the trademark and reentering market.

Tell us a bit about Lightning Bolt. What is the brand all about in 2013 as opposed to 1971? 

Lightning bolt was the most ubiquitous brand of surfing. The most important surfers in the world were riding lightning bolt surfboards and wore the t-shirts. The symbol of the lightning bolt represented the ultimate commitment of surfing. Today we're trying to replicate the look but the rest has to be done by the customer. We need to make something that makes the most ardent surfers want to wear.

How did you get to the position you are in today? 

I have no idea? 

In your opinion, do brands need to stay true to who they are or adapt to current trends in order to compete? 

You can't be all things to everyone. So you must have a vision and stick to that vision. Trying to be a chameleon and being accommodating to everyone likes and dislikes is impossible.

Who/ What are the biggest influences in your life? 

 My family: mom and dad and my brothers and sister. And also surfing: my one solution to all of life's problems. The time I spent in Israel, and the time in general that I've spent traveling. Seeing the world seeing different people, diversity is the spice of life. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

I hope I'm surfing. Jonnysurfer keeps me in the water and I love working with people and sharing the spirit of surfing. My dad always said “share the aloha”. I just hope I'm healthy, surfing and having lots of sex. 

Where can we find you online?


Posted by: Marta Gallardo, on May 12, 2016
Categories: Interviews