Founder’s Story: How Laird Hamilton Created Laird Superfood and It Took Off
When people think of Laird Hamilton, the big wave surfer who rides towering, racing walls of water that gather speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, they imagine a demigod of athletic agility and strength, part Superman, part dolphin. But the truth is, it takes more than rock-hard fitness and unflinching fearlessness to succeed at such a daring sport. It takes focus. “When you make a mistake, the ocean gives you an instant reminder. You get punished." This is the piece of the puzzle that Laird had always found the most interesting: How do you sustain your intense mental focus and energy for hours out on the water when you can't break for lunch or even a snack, but instead have to keep your wits about you and your acuity "on" since even the slightest momentary lapse can spell disaster.
To keep his focus and fuel his passion for big wave surfing, Hamilton created a concoction of his own devising: A superfood creamer with a mix of plant-based ingredients and coconut oil with naturally occurring MCT's that he would stir into his coffee every morning before leaving his kitchen, then drink it onshore, to keep his brain sharp through the daily session out on the waves.
"I’ve always been the sort of person that looks a little deeper at the things I consume on a daily basis. Coffee, for instance, is a morning go-to for so many people, including myself. I wondered how I could improve it."
For focus, energy and to fuel a healthy body, Laird created a functional creamer
What started as a personal morning ritual quickly grew into "making it for friends" including his pal Paul Hodge, who tried it, felt more energy, and focus while surfing with his friend and suggested that they create a company. Laird Superfood was born, and Hodge is now CEO. The five-year-old brand has been growing as fast as a big wave gathering steam, and it now makes an array of creamers, functional mushroom blends, plant-based protein powders, pili nut snacks, a morning lemon, ginger, and cayenne supplement, and more. Plus, there are new launches on the way.
After a successful recent round of financing, the company just went public and is fast changing the way people see coffee, morning fuel-up, brain food, and how to get more mental and physical benefits from every sip.
Laird and wife, Gabby Reece, the former pro-volleyball player, who was Nike's first female spokesperson, and well-known as a model, speaker, and author, work on the brand together as they raise two daughters, Reece, 16 and Brody, 12, and lead a fit, outdoorsy life between Malibu and Kauai, always innovating (they created a fitness training system called XPT), and doing things their way.
Q & A With Laird Hamilton: How did Laird Superfood get its start?
Laird: "I love tinkering and innovation and I ultimately created a high-fat coffee recipe to help me prep for the best day possible out on the waves and improve and maximize my personal performance.
"After that, Gabby and I started to offer my secret coffee recipe to friends and family that would come by and before I knew it, it became a pre-training and pre-surfing tradition. We are so excited to go from sharing these products around the kitchen table to now sharing them with everyone. That’s really what Laird Superfood is all about; the spirit of Aloha (sharing), and Ohana (family).
"Our mantra is Better Food. Better You, and it’s our mission to offer high-quality products with plant-based ingredients to help elevate and optimize everyone’s daily routine, from morning coffee to afternoon hydration. It has since grown to encompass a wide range of products beyond our Superfood Creamers, including Organic Coffee, Coconut Water, Instant Coffee, and more.
What is the most unique thing about Laird Superfood and the products you offer?
"Our commitment to sourcing the best ingredients possible sets us apart. Gabby and I are closely involved with the product innovation process from day one until the product is available on our website. We only use ingredients that we feel comfortable consuming daily, which sometimes means it takes us a long time to finalize a product (it took us years to develop a Vanilla Superfood Creamer that used REAL vanilla).
"Our team works tirelessly until it’s perfect, and I think that comes across in the taste and feeling you get when you incorporate our products into your daily life. These are products that we use every day (along with our kids) and share with consumers so we make sure it’s the best ingredients available. I always do things in a serious way but there is something significant to me that the bag has my name on it.
"Growing up surfing and trying to maintain consistent energy was tough," Hamilton explains, of his reason for creating Laird Superfood, "and I was in need of a serious boost to keep me energized. I started to add functional fats to my coffee to fuel me throughout the day. It was more of an experiment really, and it proved to be so powerful that I started making cups of my “special coffee” for all of my friends too. Those friends noticed a positive difference and asked me what I had done to their coffee.
I realized that I had tapped into a way to help myself and my friends perform at their best using simple, real ingredients, and that's how Laird Superfood came to be. For me, it's about creating essential everyday products that are accessible to everyone. I love the Ohana we're building and am so grateful for everyone who is a part of it," says Hamilton.
Hamilton is like a philosopher-king of the water. He wraps his approach into the work
When Laird speaks, it's like he spends most of his time out on the water waiting for the next wave, thinking, crafting aphorisms or proverbs that reveal his awe of nature and his appreciation of the gifts he has been given: His quotes sound like a book of favorite motivational sayings, which may come from spending so much time on the water. Listening to Hamilton speak is like listening to a philosopher-king of the water. A few choice ones:
“Your path is yours alone... The world doesn’t need more conformists. The world needs more people who create and question and search.”
“If you can look at one of these waves and you don't believe that there's something greater than we are, then you've got some serious analyzing to do and you should go sit under a tree for a very long time.”
“Everything comes down to attitude: You determine what yours is, and the external world will reflect it back.”
“If you just get out of your own way... It is amazing what will come to you.”
“Don’t be afraid to really use your imagination. Let it run wild. It’s one of the most powerful tools you’ve got.”
“I think the key to happiness is maximizing each day. So if you’re unhappy, here’s a simple prescription: Live harder.”
“What we've been given is precious. It's majestic in its smallest details and its largest manifestations. Anyone not humbled by the power of the ocean should take a good, long look at a fifty-foot wave. If you don't have respect for a wave, it's only a matter of time before the ocean teaches you to get some. We're all equal before the wave.”
“If you cultivate something in your mind, you give it a life. It's really that simple.”
“A little adrenaline every day keeps the boredom away.”
“People always ask me when they see me working out, "What are you training for?" The answer is I'm training for life.”
It's easy to see where his love of innovation and creativity comes from. If he isn't moving forward he is bored. Luckily Laird's idea of forward-momentum includes creating superfoods the rest of the world can enjoy whether or not they ever attempt to ride even a baby wave.
Why should someone who isn't a big wave surfer (or athlete) use a powdered creamer?
“Originally I created these products for a physical and mental boost for myself and friends for pre and post workouts. As everyone who sampled them continued to ask where they could buy them, I decided to launch the company to enable everyone to benefit.”
Hamilton realized that there were limited alternatives to the standard powdered coffee creamers, most of which contain hydrogenated oils, dairy, and other hard-to-pronounce ingredients, so he knew there was a need for a product that used real ingredients and offered a plant-based option for consumers looking to cut back on dairy. Second, a powdered creamer means that this product is shelf-stable for much longer than traditional dairy creamers and is portable (as Laird often travels around the world to surf).
His primary objective is to bring the highest-quality ingredients to the mass market. Laird identifies innovative ways to reduce costs and enable affordability.
Laird Superfood Creamers make it incredibly easy to make a functional latte at home. There is no need to pull out the coconut oil and blend it into your coffee, which can get messy quickly. With Laird Superfood Creamers you simply blend in a tablespoon or two to your favorite coffee, and you're good to go! It creates a creamy and luxurious texture and offers a delicious flavor you'll crave each morning.
Available in a plethora of flavors including Original, Turmeric, Cacao, Vanilla, and Chocolate Mint. Laird also recently released a Superfood Creamer featuring four power-packed functional mushroom extracts, Chaga, Lion's Mane, Maitake, and Cordyceps. These creamers have caught on quickly in the health and wellness world, with notable fans including Joe Rogan, Michelle Wie, Joakim Noah, and Josh Brolin.
Outside of the amazing flavor and functional benefits, this creamer is also portable. You can leave it on your desk so you can always enjoy a functional latte at the office, throw it in your gym bag, or bring it in your carry-on to make the slightly-burnt airplane coffee actually taste amazing. Laird Superfood Creamers make it possible to enjoy a functional, dairy-free latte wherever life takes you.
Laird most recently created Instafuel, an elevated instant latte that combines their Original Superfood Creamer with premium freeze-dried coffee and Hydrate, freeze-dried coconut water. They also offer a line of Peruvian coffees in a medium and dark roast with their latest addition to the collection: Coffee with Functional Mushroom Extracts!
Beet readers can try Laird Superfood for today for 10% off with code BEET10!