Derek Mabra, left, and Lauren Andino, right, are the artists behind DL Skateboards, a retro skateboard company they first started in their living room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
When Derek Mabra and Lauren Andino sit down to craft one of their custom, 1960s-inspired skateboards, they simply head out to their backyard.
“I start with a slab of oak,” Mabra, 29, explained. “From there, it’s just drawing, sawing and sanding, basically.”
The outdoor woodshop behind their Topanga Canyon, Calif., abode is a step up from the couple’s previous workplaces: first, their tiny living room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
“It was a really small place with one window,” Mabra said. “We tried to build some ventilation. But that didn’t really work out.”
When things got too dusty, the pair settled on a truck – a “shred shack” – parked on the streets of the artsy neighborhood. The studio-on-wheels quickly became a familiar sight in the community.
Mabra and Andino, however, never imagined that their retro rides, shaped like small surfboards with wheels, would skate their way into a full-fledged company: DL Skateboards.
“We started making them just for us, because no one made the cruiser board that we wanted,” said Mabra, a New Hampshire native. “It’s all of word of mouth. We never advertised them, never forced them on anybody.”
Andino said many of the designs are inspired by “‘60s surf style” or classic kids toys.
The couple, who met back in 2009, have since traded their “shred shack” on the streets of Brooklyn for workspace in the backyard of the Topanga Canyon home.
The duo, profiled in a Cool Hunting video in 2011, has received requests for 36 boards in the past month alone and has made nearly 100 boards since they started their business two years ago.
But at $195 a pop, their creations aren’t just for fun. They’re art.
“A lot of the designs come from ’60s, surf style or a classic kid toys,” Andino, 26, said. “And they are hand-painted. So even if you get the same design, each board is different.”
Andino usually wields the paintbrush behind the California-inspired designs, while Mabra handles the wood — a process that takes about two hours, start to finish.
The crafty team, both skaters since they were young, has come a long way since they met in 2009.
Mabra was working at his recording business, Honeyland Studios, in Williamsburg, when the lead singer of indie band “Telltale” asked to use the space. The singer sent the band’s drummer, Andino, to check it out first.
“She knocked on the door. And that was it,” Mabra said. “Very rock and roll.”
Mabra said it takes about two hours to saw and sand the skateboards before they’re ready for paint.
The pair first started making the boards for their friends about two years ago.
Though the story of their company — and their relationship — is rooted in Brooklyn, Mabra and Andino decided to head west last year after Andino was accepted to Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.
They have now set up shop in Topanga Canyon, trading a borough of 2.5 million for a home nestled in the mountains, overlooking the beach.
“I miss Greenpoint. But the city wasn’t really for us,” Mabra said. “We wanted more space and more room to be creative. And to just kind of get back into nature.”
Andino added that it’s “the necessity of walking” she misses most.
“Coming to Los Angeles, we thought it would be like Brooklyn…but with better weather,” Andino said. “We were so wrong.”
Andino, pictured, and Mabra have been skaters since they were young.