We recently caught up with Breno Basilio, the man behind the California-based surfboard company, Muléke Surfboards. Muléke is also the name of his van, a Mercedes-Benz 144 Sprinter which was custom built by Outside Van in 2018. Muléke comes from the Portuguese word “Moleque” which means a kid, a Grom . . . which Breno believes we all are at heart!
OV: You have a wide range of talents. What’s your story?
Well, thank you for that! Let me see: I am Computer Engineer by degree, working in the Software industry for over 20 years, but I also run a surfboard company designing and shaping surfboards for all ages and skill levels. These are two very different worlds with different demands and clientele, but it’s what gives me balance and the ability to release energy in a creative way. While one can be mentally demanding, the other introduces a more physical and mechanical aspect that allows me to disconnect and focus on the therapy of the process. The interesting thing is that one feeds how you handle the other and vice-versa.
OV: Do you work in your van? How has your van aided in your surfboard company?
Yes, I work from the van often; with my dual work-life my days can easily be consumed indoors and in front of a computer screen. Since building the van, I can now work from the beach (or wherever I feel like) with the same efficiency as if I was at an office, but with the added benefit to be where I want to be, and with my family.
OV: You thrive to build the ideal surfboard for your customers. What’s the correlation between the custom van building process and building a surfboard for a customer?
Like everything in our lives that we enjoy doing, get drawn to…at the end of the day, it all boils down to feelings! What do I mean by that? We do what we do for enjoyment simply because it feels good! Why do surfers get “addicted” to surfing? The lifestyle? Maybe; it’s definitely part of it, but if you look deeper into it, the feeling of riding a wave (which is individual) is the unexplainable factor. I can try to explain to you how it feels, but until you have experienced for yourself, it will just be an idea.
OV: Why do you love to design and shape surfboards?
Is it the creativity, the engineering behind what works and doesn’t for a particular person, the satisfaction of seeing a final product that you designed, touched, and built from raw materials come to life?…yes, all the above, BUT if I am honest with myself, and look deeper into it, what really drives me to do all that, is the actual feeling I get when a customer calls back to say that I delivered on the feelings he/she were looking for.
The van building process with Outside Van followed the same philosophy; tell me what you want to feel at the end of this journey, and we will write you the recipe to try and achieve those feelings. It’s not about dimensions, colors, materials…it’s about how you put it all together to deliver on that experience!
OV: What’s the most essential feature you’ve grown to love in your van?
Honestly, my water tank with the shower hose! I was able to add a lot of great features in the van, but having that shower off the back is key for what I like do!
OV: Vanlife is all about connection with nature and connection with individuals. You are a family man. How has van life enabled family time?
It allowed for impromptu getaways where I can still work, but be with them at the same time.
OV: What’s the most memorable experience or trip you’ve had so far?
All experiences in the van are memorable, and I would like to think that the most memorable will always be the next one! If I had to chose one since picking up the van in Portland, it would probably be the McCall, ID trip where we met up with the OSV crew for a few days, and met many other great people along the way.