Blacktip Island entrepreneur Piers “Doc” Plank has launched Bamboo You, an island-based manufacturer of scuba equipment made completely of bamboo.
“Bamboo’s the ultimate renewable resource,” Plank said. “We’re as green as it gets. And when your kit wears out, send it back for recycling and a discount on new kit.
“Our materials are all locally sourced. The stuff washes up on shore by the ton. Our supply chain’s a combination of beach cleanup and power walking.”
“Snorkels were the obvious starting point,” said Bamboo You sales manager Christina Mojarra. “Then fins and slates. But we quickly expanded our line to include bamboo mask frames, regulator housings and BCDs woven from bamboo fiber.
“We’ve also patented Bambooprene wetsuits, made from thin layers of cross-cut young bamboo,” Mojarra said. “It insulates better than neoprene, and it’s not nearly as buoyant. We’re beta-testing our Big Bamboo dive knife, as well. Our goal is to outfit divers completely in bamboo, from hood to fin tips.”
“First stage regulators have been a challenge,” Plank said. “The trick is getting the stuff to stand up to 3000 psi. The 150-psi IP in the second stages is a cakewalk, but we’re still picking splinters of our first-stage prototype out of the walls. And Christina’s eyebrows.”
“Bamboo You’s a shot in the arm for the local economy,” Blacktip Island Chamber of Commerce president Sandy Bottoms said. “Ol’ Doc’s created jobs where there weren’t any, splinters be damned. I don’t know what half the stuff he makes does, but, by God, folks are buying it.”
“Our experience is the more useless the gizmo, the better it sells,” Plank said. “That’s the guiding principle behind our bamboo tank bangers, octo holders and clip-on D-rings.
“Our pièces de résistance, though, are the bamboo weights. Anti-weights, really. They come in quarter-pound increments and can be positioned anywhere on your body to trim you out perfectly. They’re stupid. Maybe the stupidest thing we’ve come up with. But we can’t keep them in stock – there’s two months of back-orders right now.”
“Satisfaction’s guaranteed,” Mojarra said. “Any problem with a Bamboo You product, return it and we’ll send your money back. No questions asked. We don’t want our customers feeling bamboozled.”