Photography by Jason Stephens
From eclectic longboards to old-school style surfboards, Reed and Priscilla Burr introduce an intentional brand of craftsmanship to the Lakeland community. Growing up in the vibrant East African culture, this husband and wife duo created WIMBI Surf and Skate from a personal place of passion and advocacy for positive change. Learn more about how this long-time dream turned into their people-oriented business venture.
“You need to stop talking about it and just do it.” These were the words WIMBI founder, Reed Burr, heard from his wife (and cofounder), Priscilla Burr, that changed absolutely everything for them. In 2017, the couple found themselves at a crossroads before deciding whether to launch their surf and skate business in the community of Lakeland. After losing a full-time job, Reed took the pivotal initiative to officially register WIMBI — which translates to “wave” in Swahili — as a business on the same day. With Priscilla running logistics and Reed utilizing his woodworking skills, the passionate couple began to embark on this new journey that has, in return, brought a huge connection with people from all walks of life.
WIMBI utilizes all natural and locally based products to produce their boards. Many boards have been recycled and repurposed from everyday materials in an effort to be environmentally conscious.
The creative husband and wife duo originally met in Kenya as missionary kids — a time both of them deeply cherish and attribute their business model to. “We both grew up in Kenya, where there were no skate or surf shops. At a very young age, my dad put tools in my hands, and we started to create boards of our own,” says Reed. Even after marrying Priscilla, Reed kept up with his craftsmanship by repurposing and building from recycled materials, such as old bed frames made from oak and natural hardwoods. When the Lakeland couple decided to dive into the world of entrepreneurship, they began their unique offering of custom-built boards detailed with the eclectic and nostalgic design of authentic Kenyan kanga fabric. This fabric not only showcases the artisanal talent of East African tradition, but it pays homage to Reed and Priscilla’s adventurous upbringing.
WIMBI’s inventory also features a variety of materials that are purchased from the same local marketplace craftsmen who the Burrs grew up around in Africa. “We want the skate community to be a voice for positive change,” says Priscilla.
One of the ways the business has lived out this desire is through the art of giving back. Burr’s parents are still missionaries in Africa and work through an organization by the name of Convoy of Hope to invest in local communities. “With the concept story being tethered into our business, we leverage the profits from our boards to give back to the communities where we grew up,” shares Reed. A portion of the proceeds made from WIMBI sales go toward investing in others.
Within the last year, WIMBI has set up booths at several of our local marketplaces — such as Concord Coffee’s Night Markets, Haus MRKT, and First Fridays — to meet new faces and connect further with clients. They feature a wide variety of high-quality retro-inspired longboards, penny boards, and surfboards. Along with their custom-made boards, they also have a vibrant selection of T-shirts and tank tops including remnants of their traditional Kenyan fabrics.
“We want the skate community to be a voice for positive change.”
When it comes to the response of the community, the Burrs have been overwhelmed by the amount of support received from new customers and fellow entrepreneurs. Reed and Priscilla agree, “[WIMBI] wouldn’t be here today without the people in Lakeland who believed in us and partnered with us along the way.”