SPORT - INTERVIEW
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Darkfin Gloves - IG Credit @salty_red_cow
SPORT - INTERVIEW
by Mehmet Kaplan
Whether you are interested in Scuba Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling, Freediving, Spearfishing, Surfing, Kayaking, Skydiving, Archery, Calisthenics, or Obstacle Courses, Darkfin has a product designed for you. Roy McKennie founded Black Lagoon and designed the flagship product, Darkfin 'Webbed' Glove. When the time came for Roy to retire, Andrew one of the current owners, took over the company with plans to continue impreving the brand. I asked him about Darkfin Gloves. You could find details about this webbed gloves and Andrew's story in this interview.
Please tell us the story of Black Lagoon Products and Darkfin brand?
In 1985 Roy McKenny moved to California from the Midwest, and took up the hobby of surfing. He soon realized that he was at a severe disadvantage in trying to match the paddling strokes of the locals. He began developing the first concept of the webbed gloves, and he perfected the concept a few years later only to put his project on hold until 2009 when Black Lagoon Products was born. From the start in 1985, he developed all of our products with plant-based materials and made them 100% biodegradable. We were all about eliminating plastic before people considered plastic as an issue to our planet.
Andrew, could you start by telling us about your background and diving experience before you purchased Black Lagoon Products?
I grew up in the mountains of northern Mexico, we had a large intimidating lake where I used to swim almost every week. Every time I swam across it I remember wishing there was a better way to move in the water. That lake is where I got my passion for being in the water. A few years later I became a commercial fisherman in Alaska, and I spent a lot of time in the cold nutrient-rich water cutting nets that had become tangled in the propellers of fishing boats. At first, it was just swimming trunks and a knife, but some messes required air tanks. That got me into scuba, and a few years later I spent 22 days on a friend's sailboat in the Bahamas learning how to freedive and spearfish.
Darkfin Gloves - IG Credit @86amr @calinphoto506
You described Darkfin Power Gloves as The Most Incredible Water Sports Glove Ever. What are the incredible features of your gloves?
While fishing in Alaska in the summer of 2011, I was flipping through a Hawaii Skin Diver magazine when I saw a small add with a picture of the glove, the website and a small catch phrase,
"Darkfin the most powerful webbed glove EVER, period."
I was hooked, and I thought to myself "if all amphibious animals have webbed fingers, can't we have them too?” The concept was brilliant but would they live up to their claim? So I ordered a pair and the first time I tried them on was on another spearfishing trip to the Bahamas. Four friends and I chartered an airplane to drop us on a small Bahamian island. For this trip, all we had was our diving gear, Hawaiian slings, a few packs of oatmeal, ramen noodles, lime juice, drinking water filters and a lot of mosquito repellent.
We set up camp and got in the water that night. From then on we were in the water 8 to 10 hours every day, swimming a mile away with the tide to the nearest reefs so we could hunt our dinner. We all had identical gear, except the only difference was that I had a camouflage skin and a pair of Darkfin Gloves. I had an incredible advantage, so much that the rest of the crew would make me tow the supply raft and the floating fish cooler with our kills. Even with the supplies and the anchor, I was always the first one to the reef, and always got to pick the biggest fish and the nicest lobster. The nickname they gave me on the trip was the "selfish hunter.” The Darkfin advantage was so noticeable that I wrote the owner of the company a formal letter and sent him a video review of our adventure. Roy and I became friends and I turned somewhat into the unofficial ambassador for the brand. I would get questions about the gloves on every diving adventure, and of course, I would always brag about them. In August of 2017, I learned that Roy would no longer be able to manufacture the gloves due to unforeseen circumstances. That's when the opportunity was presented to me to buy the company. I knew for a fact that they were the best gloves on the market, and I could prove it.
We are 100% biodegradable so if you loose them in the ocean they will be gone in less than a year. The webbing is made bonded to the fingers at a nano-cellular level without the need for glue or stitching. We are the only webbed glove with a rear web design allowing for maximum propulsion while giving the user full use of his finger dexterity. Every glove is handmade in the USA.
We joined this company because we believe in it and because we know that no other glove could even begin to compete with Darkfin's performance. Try them out, enhance your abilities, bring new life your hobbies.
What kind of other products do you offer? Could you tell us more about all Darkfin products and their features?
Our other products are:
- Durafin Glove: a heavy duty version of the Darkfin for cold water surfer or for the Lobster hunting diver.
- Black Ops: it is the Darkfin without the webbing, for Spear-fishermen, mechanics, tough Mudders and obstacle course racers.
- Dark Archer is for fans of traditional archery.
- Darkfin Bootees are for paddle-boarders, surfers, kayakers, freedivers, scuba divers, and everyone who wants a little extra protection on their bare feet.
- Kongz is a washable, hypoallergenic, no-slip, perfect grip workout glove that will keep your hands safe from blisters.
Darkfin Gloves - IG Credit @Floridafreediver @AndrewandAshlee
What has been the biggest manufacturing or engineering challenge you faced? How did you solve?
Learning how to bond the webbing to the gloves without the need for glue was the toughest part. It took Roy years to discover the secret, then almost by accident he learned. Now only 5 people know the manufacturing method he discovered.
How he solved it... well that in itself is part of our secret and why we are THE BEST webbed glove on the market. I challenge anyone to disprove ourclaim, I have hundreds of testimonials to back us up!
You have a social responsibility project that you have carried out on your website. Could you give us more information about Well Project?
Before I became one of the owners of Black Lagoon Products I had had the blessing and opportunity to visit Mozambique on three separate occasions and I learned the desperate need for clean drinking water. I also had the privilege of diving in millions of gallons of clean drinkable water in the Florida springs. It would be wrong of us owning a water-sport glove company not to do something with the platform we have acquired. We are called to be good conservators of this planet and that is what we strive for.
All of Black Lagoon Products are 100% biodegradable and sustainable, but beyond that, we want to be good stewards of our time and finances. We have selected to support projects such as clean water for Mozambique, ocean plastic clean up, shark conservation, and coral propagation. We seek to work with individuals and companies with similar passions and beliefs.
Darkfin Gloves - IG Credit @amandasmerge @bfanok
Who were on your side while you brought Darkfin to this point? Please tell us about your team.
All Roy had was a dream and the unquestionable support of his family, it was hard but slowly and surely he turned Darkfin into a reliable brand name. Decades later two of my best friends and my brother, took only my word (without even trying the gloves themselves) and joined me on this adventure. They used their skills and finances to help purchase the company in 2017 and continue the manufacturing of the gloves. My wife likes to joke that "Andrew could not bare the thought of using another brand of webbed gloves, so he bought the company.” One month after we had purchased the company we made and fulfilled hundreds of orders to 40 different countries across the world. Since then we have lost the count of the countries we have shipped to.
There are lots of diving related shares on social media platforms. What do you think about social media? How do you use it for Darkfin?
We are new to Instagram and amateurs in Facebook, yet somehow we have had an amazing response from Darkfin users and conservationists. People will share our posts simply because of what we stand for. Our generation is probably the last generation that can help change the future of this planet. The next generation might not be able to stop the damage that has been done to our oceans. If our oceans die, the consequences will be dire. Sounds bleak I know, but at heart, I'm an optimist and believe we can help make a difference. Sustainability and a positive effect on this planet and humanity are what we strive to achieve.
How can our readers buy Darkfin products? What type of options do you offer?
Our website is DarkfinGloves.com and we have a few distributors overseas. Once we finish our retail packaging we will be able to stock dive and surf shops who have been requesting our products. We know every hand is unique so we offer 13 sizes, and a size fit guarantee. As far as colors like Henry Ford used to say "You can have it in whatever color you like, as long as its black”. All we offer is black right now but in the future, we would like to offer a broader variety of colors. If we made a separate color we would have to make a minimum of 1,400 pairs in that color.
What are the next steps and future plans for Darkfin Gloves?
In the next few months, we will be releasing the ONLY anatomically correct glove on the market. It has been a project that has been in development for a few years. We will be offering gloves that were designed and made to match the human hand perfectly... well let's just say our new gloves will... "Fit Like a Glove!”
Thank you Andrew.