Surf Shacks 090

Jonathan + Mareike Weaver
Ericeira, Portugal

Matt Titone

Jonathan Weaver is a senior marketing veteran who cut his teeth shaping the image of such iconic brands as Burton and Nike. After authoring his first book inspired by alternative paths to success, “The Anti Blueprint Project,” he moved his family from Portland, Oregon to Ericeira, Portugal. He is now the CMO at Db Journey, who makes arguably the best travel luggage in the world (I can personally attest to their surfboard bags), and he’s a co-founder of ūmmi hard kombucha. Needless to say, this guy has a lot going on. Similar to many relationships these days, I first met Jonathan through Instagram. I was introduced to his book, “The Anti Blueprint Project” and discovered we had a lot in common through working in communication arts full time, but more so through our side projects. Much like Surf Shacks, Jonathan has used his Anti Blueprint Project as a way to get to know people who inspire him and communicate their stories to a broader audience. I finally got to meet Jonathan in person on a recent trip to Portugal and see the beautiful place he now calls home.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself. (Where are you from? What do you do for a living? etc.)

I was born in England with proud Welsh parents, married to a German wife, Mareike, and have lived in the UK, France, Finland, Austria, USA and now Portugal. I’m a husband, son, father, snowboarder in regression and adult learner surfer. I work in marketing, have written a book, “The Anti-Blueprint Project” and am a co-founder in ūmmi hard kombucha here in Portugal.

Describe your career path.

I spent my years after school snowboarding, traveling the world, and getting through university before realizing that in the words of my old boss; “I’m not the next Shaun White.” I fell luckily into an internship at Burton, who I was riding for at the time. That went from internship on events and team management into pan European marketing with Forum Snowboards (one of their brands). It was the best way to learn both marketing, business, but also the German language. That was 5 great years with some of the best people you could ever wish to meet working out of Innsbruck. Around then Nike was making noise in skateboarding and beginning with snow. By chance a friend of a friend put me in touch with the European crew at Nike. It honestly wasn’t that I was looking to leave Burton, but Nike doesn’t call everyday, so when it does, you have to jump at the chance. I did a couple years in Europe building an athlete team, holding events and getting the brand built

on a solid footing before moving to Portland, Oregon to work on sports and brand marketing in a global role. That led to a few amazing years with the Olympics, team movies, travel around the world, and learning the ways of the Swoosh. Unfortunately in 2014 they decided that it wasn’t the business driver they had hoped, so they put the program on hold. A lot of the crew I worked with left as they wanted to work on snowboarding, so they went to other brands, but I guess at heart I’m a sports fan first. I love football and so thought, yeah, that’s where I want to be. Six years later after stints on the Crossfit, womens, and training business, I finally made it to football, but after 3 days in that role the pandemic kicked in and that was my last day on campus. Then we kinda pulled the plug on our stay in the US.

Coming back to Europe I’ve been consulting for a few brands and platforms, but the majority of my time has gone to Db where I’m now leading a very talented, wonderful team as we build the business out to scale globally. It’s nice as you’re really back at the coal face putting the plans into place for everything from line plans to category expansion, whereas at Nike it felt a little pigeon holed.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

What have been some of your favorite projects / client collaborations over the years?

Oh wow. Yeah I’ve been lucky here. I guess my stand outs would be overseeing Nevernot, our film with Nike snowboarding through that Olympic cycle. A great team behind the scenes, insane riders, unreal budget — I mean, we got to license the Rolling Stones! Some of the others though that stand out are the launch of the Metcon shoe. Kind of weird as I had zero experience with Crossfit, so it meant learning a new business, mindset and it really taught me a lot about understanding a consumer. Now I love that community and they are so committed, it’s kind of like any of the sports we’re all from except they’re just hyped in a gym everyday. We built a gym in an old historical building in London for it and all the Crossfit crew came in and started slamming weights around and we broke the floor in this place, so that was quite a way to go into an event.

More recently the collaborations with Marcelo at Db has been cool as you have the Real Madrid captain working with a small brand and just seeing how hyped he is because we are listening to him is so good. Then we’re doing a series called Pack Heavy, Chase Light right now, which is showcasing some amazing photographers and film makers which I love. It’s great to highlight the people usually behind the scenes making magic happen.

What was the impetus to put The Anti Blueprint Project together?

Like everyone, I had an inclination that I wanted to do a project. I had produced snowboard films (Hungerpain) back in the day and love the feeling of creating something (ironic since I’m 100% not what you would class as a creative). I get ideas and can imagine the output, but have zero clue to go from A to B. I am always lucky enough to find people who can help though.

So the impetus; we were having dinner at colleague at Nike’s house who explained how much they were paying for her 14 year old daughters education: $46k a year and had been paying this for 4 years already. Add another 4 years of this, plus college and they are easy into her education for half a million dollars. I couldn’t believe the system thats been created (and is being replicated in the UK more and more). The funny thing was I just imagined this girl, like the rest of us, by the time she turns 18 or 21 might just say, “I’m out” and decide she wants to go surf or live off the grid or anything else. Then I thought about friends I have who are successful and between people I know and then friends of friends I knew so many people with crazy careers who either didn’t study, or changed course mid-career, or something random. So I just started interviewing them and after like 20, I realized it was a thing. Some people suggested a YouTube series, others a podcast, but I kind of gravitated towards a book as it was as much for me as for the readers to have something tangible. I had got into a bit of a strategy funk at Nike. Most everything you do is a strategy deck, which down the line eventually becomes real, but by then, it’s had so much input that it’s not what you envisaged in the beginning. So creating my own project and book felt just right. I also like there is a certain barrier to entry. It felt like in the pandemic everyone was starting a podcast. I loved the idea of ok, you need 100,000 words, a bunch of content just to have the conversation.

I started writing in April and we sent it to print in November, so like a 6 month turnaround. I was so thankful that I had three great friends Nick, Sani and Bugz all come in to help me bring this thing into the real world. Without them I would still have just a bunch of Google Docs. It’s funny, I still look back on the initial email in April to Nick, my editor, who was kind of like, “oh great idea, but it needs a lot of work.” I love a challenge.

How has that book influenced your own life?

It’s definitely made me realize that I can also be a bit more carefree. I guess I wouldn’t have left Nike without it and all the inspiration I got along the way. It has also made me value the connections I have from snowboarding and traveling.

It also has made realize my own worth as a creative. At Nike, you get told that if you don’t sit in the design department you aren’t a creative, but the reality is in marketing and creativity, it can come from anywhere. And that the written word is one of the most important things we have but often gets forgotten behind video, stills, and everything else.

Do you have plans to continue the project with a second volume?

I can’t wait. Honestly I loved the process of writing and getting into your thoughts and meeting new people. I just need some time. Between Db and ūmmi, a family, and trying to surf as much as possible, time is limited. I can do it though and so maybe I’ll get into it this winter but let’s see. I also need to figure out whether to self-publish again or try and get a deal going, but either way, a film or YouTube series alongside it would also be amazing.

What is the point of doing passion projects in your opinion?

Well, so far I have made a snowboard film (Hungerpain), which made me zero money, a book which made me hardly anything, but both have arguably been the most important things I have done as they have opened doors for me. They make you realize what you can achieve, but also instill confidence from others that you can get stuff done. So many people have ideas, but getting them into the world is a different story.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

As a brit, how did you first get into surfing?

I grew up bodyboarding every summer in Wales in the cold water there with my parents but didn’t really start until a trip with a friend Mark down to Galicia, Spain when we were like 27. Nothing like trying to learn to surf through your 30s on the Oregon coast. It really gets you motivated for every condition.

How did you and Marieke first meet?

We met in Holland actually on Queens Day at a Gangstar gig in El Paradiso. We met briefly for a few minutes, but then I saw her 6 months later on New Years Eve in Austria. She was with her twin sister and so I didn’t say a word — I was so nervous. Luckily by the end of the night she comes up in her German accent, “Why aren’t you speaking with us?” and we took it from there. She’s the best. We’ve lived all over and she’s so good with change I am very lucky.

When did you guys move to Portugal and how long have you lived in your current home?

We moved in June 2020. We had been thinking to get back to Europe sometime anyways, but with the various lock downs and uncertainty surrounding it and with European countries not allowing US residents into Europe that summer. One Friday at the end of June we just called Delta and asked for 4 tickets to Europe as soon as possible. They put us on flights on the Monday so we packed up some bags and left and my wife haven’t been back since. I went back to sell our house, but otherwise we’ve been here since July 2020.

We’d luckily bought a house in Portugal through the end of 2019 / start of 2020, which was a bit of a random story. Basically as we all usually do I guess, when you go on vacation we looked at house listings and went to visit a great looking place just to have a look and see what you could get. It sold as we got there, so didn’t think much more of it. 3 months later, the realtor emailed me; “hey I have a place that’s not listed yet, but you might be interested.” I was hesitant to even show Mareike as she is so much better at going with the wind and sure enough she’s like, “oh my gosh, its my dream house, we have to buy it.” So I went through the process imaging that we couldn’t get a loan or something would happen, but we got the offer accepted, financing approved and just as we went to come take a look the first lockdowns started and so we could travel. Thankfully a friend of ours, Bram, the local Ericeira building legend was kind enough to come take a look and gave us a glowing report, so we kinda just had to buy it there and then, sight unseen by us. Sometimes I think that’s even the better way to be honest.

It was quite surreal pulling up to a home you haven’t seen before even though you’ve purchased it. It’s been one of the best decisions we ever made.

Was moving to a new country a tough transition to make as a family?

As I say, my wife and I have lived in a few countries, but for the kids it was a change. The first day we dropped them at summer camp at a Forest School, we felt really guilty. They didn’t speak a word of Portuguese and none of the kids spoke English, but thankfully 3 months later, one day our daughter Lilly came home asking for milk in Portuguese, and so now they are our little translators. It’s been great though, we had some friends here before anyways so we’ve been lucky in that regard to have a good community building.

What are both of your favorite parts of your home?

Probably the thing we both love the most though is that from the street it looks like any traditional Portuguese home. White walls, red roof tiles, but then when you come inside it comes alive around every corner. On weekends it becomes like the community HQ here for our friends. BBQs, pool hangs, coffees and ūmmis with usually an abundance of kids, friends, surfboards. For me, my office/studio is pretty special as it’s so peaceful and it’s sound proofed. Board room, yoga studio, office. It’s great. For Mareike it’s probably the pool and lounge. She loves nothing more than an afternoon by the pool.

What are your favorite parts about Ericiera and the general region in which you live?

We love the beaches, being so close, and the great spots to eat and drink in Ericeira are great. It’s also probably the fact that we’re only 40 minutes to Lisbon and the airpot though that make it so well located as you can travel so easily.

Any parting thoughts, words of wisdom, or sage advice?

We always hear from a lot of young parents asking about the move and how the kids will cope and we always say that the kids will adapt better than you’d ever believe, they are amazing. So I guess in terms of advice: Just lean into it and let the world catch you, it usually has a way of doing so. You and your family — especially your kids, will only be this young once. Cherish the moment and don’t get caught up planning your life away.

And if there is one quote; “If you don’t see the community around you that you’d like, take the lead and start building that community.”  Bailey Richardson wrote that in her book, “Get Together.”

Discover more creative surfers’ homes in our books; Surf Shacks® Vol. 1, and Vol. 2 available now!


Matt Titone

A goofy-footed graphic designer who hails from the first state, Delaware. After attending Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL then graduating from SCAD in Savannah, GA with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration, Matt moved to NYC and found work as a freelance designer and art director. In 2006 he moved west to Venice, CA where he co-founded ITAL/C Studio and now resides a bit further north in Oxnard.

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