“Don’t Be Offended, We’re All Kooks In Our Own Way”
Since 2009 Kook Of The Day has been capturing and sharing the kookiness that occurs within surfing. The Instagram quickly exploded in popularity and even created an entire realm of action sports parody accounts. Today the Instagram account has nearly half a million followers who check out Kook Of The Day searching for their daily fix of kook encounters.
Instagram has become a popular marketing tool for businesses. The social media platform has over 400 million monthly active users and drives more engagement with customers than other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Using Instagram to start or grow a business was never the plan for Kook Of The Day. But after growing such a large community of engaged user the anonymous man behind Kook Of The Day knew he had a unique business opportunity. The man behind KOTD wishes to remain nameless in his anonymous pursuit of capturing the Kooks, but sat down with TransWorld Business to discuss the story of starting the Instagram and now evolving it into a brand.
How would you define a kook?
I have no really good definition of a KOOK but I do know a kook when I see one. There are multiple ways of being a kook so I guess that's why it’s so hard for me to give you a good definition. You can be a kook, you can kook it, or you can just act plain kooky!
I don't know… I was always a pictures kinda guy ;) You’ll know it when you see one, trust me.
When was Kook Of The Day started? How was this all started?
Back in 2009. I was working at a surf shop part-time and there were guys that would come into the shop still in their wetsuits just soaking wet. I found it hysterical. At first, I was just posting the photos on my Facebook saying 'Kook Of The Day' here at the surf shop. A lot of my friends and family found the pictures comical. About a year later one of my buddies from high school told me that this is too funny and I need to make a blog for all these photos.
So I started a Tumblr blog. When I started the Tumblr blog was about the time that Instagram came out. I made an Instagram for it and just began doing it for fun. I wasn't really trying to achieve anything with it. All of this just sort of fell into my lap.
When did you reach the point that you weren't finding all the content yourself and people began submitting photos to you?
I guess just a couple of years into it, so probably 2012. That was the year that the account started to get really popular. I saw that my following was boosting quite dramatically. I set it up so that people could send me the kooks that they encounter because that way I could get more than just what I see personally. Now I have sort of overdone it because I cannot even keep up with all the submissions I receive. I probably have like 2,000 emails in my inbox that I haven't even opened.
-Sorry to all the ones I haven't opened yet! Don't hate me, just be patient with me ☺
Kook Of The Day is now at almost 400,000 followers, did you ever imagine it would grow this big?
Like I said before, not really. It is funny because I started doing it for fun. I have a personal Instagram account but I'm not a huge social media person. I just made it and the success of it came out of nowhere. I don't know what to say, I guess I just started at the right time when Instagram first began so it just all filtered towards me at the beginning there. I just had my luck in starting it before Instagram really took off.
Can you discuss growing beyond Instagram and evolving into a brand?
Once I started getting all the following it was funny because all my friends were always like "dude you need to somehow make some money off this and capitalize on this opportunity because it is getting to the point where you could". I was always about turning Kook Of The Day into something but I'm not like this big clothing or fashion guru. I'm not a fashion designer. I could never come up with a logo or any shirt designs that I liked. I would try to get guys to make some shirt but I was never really happy with it. I didn't even really have the money to put out towards creating shirts.
We teamed up so that way we could begin working together and getting the Kook Of The Day brand started. If this was all done by myself there is no way I would be able to be this far. A big thanks to the bros at Brothers Marshall.
Once I actually did come up with something and started to try to sell shirts is when Trace from Brothers Marshall came to me wanting to put in their expertise, connections within the industry, and everything else to help me out. So they teamed up with me at the end of 2015 to help me get the brand off the ground and running.
How has teaming up with the dudes from Brothers Marshall helped to grow the brand?
It is pretty cool because the timing couldn't have been better. I started working with them to start the brand and help market the apparel collection through their website. My buddy works at Swell and sort of threw the idea out there to them like "so I think I heard KOTD is coming out with some clothing and you should hit them up". Sure enough they hit me up and I just so happened to have the Brothers Marshall dudes helping with all the catalog sheets for the KOTD apparel collection. It looked all cool and professional so that we could present it to Swell and have them stoked on it.
We teamed up so that we could begin working together and getting the Kook Of The Day brand started. If this was all done by myself there is no way I would be able to be this far. A big thanks to the bros at Brothers Marshall.
What does it feel like to be an actual brand now? You have apparel, a website, and people are buying shirts.
It is crazy to be honest. Seeing the shirts out there and being sold is wild. We just got the shirts into Jack's Surfboards and my buddy sent me a picture of the shirts out on the clothing rack. It blows my mind. I grew up in Southern California going to these surf shops and doing back to school shopping. Now I go to these shops and see my apparel hanging there that are from my Instagram that I made for fun.
Why is it that you think parody accounts are so popular within action sports?
It is hard to say. I wonder the same thing because there are so many of them now. I feel like it is just getting flooded and recycled now. So many of the Instagram accounts are posting the same stuff that other parodies accounts are posting. So much of the content out there is getting recycled so I try really hard to not use the same stuff. Some stuff that is really funny I might but you'll hardly see me do that. I try to always keep the stuff I post new and fresh.
It is getting to a point where it is almost too much now. I typed the word 'kook' in the search bar the other day and there are so many ‘kook of the day’ type Instagram pages out there now. I mean holy cow, it is flattering at all but also ridiculous. I want to just tell them not to quit their day jobs because this is not like what you think it is. I'm not like the Fat Jewish where he makes a ton of money off his Instagram account. It is not like I quit my day job over this. I am still working 40 hours a week.
It is not so much that we are trying to call out kooks and be like "hey you kook" or anything like that. We are getting the awareness out there you could say. I feel like you could follow the KOTD Instagram and it would help people surfing in some sort of way. Like what to do and not to do in surfing.We never want people to get offended. That is why in the bio it says "don't be offended, we are all kooks in our own way". The whole thing is just for fun. Some people can't have that type of fun, oh well their loss.
I feel like surfing almost kind of needed something like this. I wouldn't necessarily call it a TMZ of the sport but it almost feels like surfing needs that type of gossip. Sometimes I'll post a thing here and there about a pro just to get a reaction. People get so fired up about some of the posts. I almost post it just to see all the reactions and comedy in the comments section. I’m an asshole, I know.
What is your favorite KOTD photo of all-time?
I guess I wouldn't really have a favorite photo but the Johnny Wood video of the guy crashing his car into the fire hydrant is always a classic for me. That one is just too funny, it couldn't have happened any better.
They are all my favorite of course.
The shirts are available on Swell. Are you looking to expand to other retailers?
I mean yes and no I guess. Right now we are just focusing on the core surf shops. If they want it, we'll do it. So I mean I guess so. I don’t know what I’m talking about! We are just looking to see how it takes off. Jack's Surfboards is going to begin carrying the brand and hopefully that will help get other shops to carry the brand in their stores. I know other shops like Spyder Surfboards in Hermosa Beach will be getting KOTD apparel just because the shop owner loves the Instagram. Katin Surf Shop should have it soon as well!
Our biggest priority right now is getting the website going and making it fully interactive. We want website visitors to be able to submit photos, vote on them, and more. It is getting repetitive so we want to keep things fresh so people don't get bored with it.
What are the plans for 2016 and beyond with KOTD?
Actually we were just talking about starting a YouTube channel that might feature some type of Tosh.0 web redemption with some of the KOTD submissions we get if we could somehow find the people. We are talking about really getting into it with some video stuff. Who knows what will be next for us. I have a good friend that is really into the film industry and he's been talking to me about making a KOTD movie.
Being with the guys at Brothers Marshall has gotten me stoked on everything because they are always throwing out new, and GREAT ideas. So I guess you’ll have to wait and see what we are up to for 2016. I heard there is going to be a puppet involved too to that should be pretty good. I think his name is Joey ☺
You prefer to remain anonymous. Can you give us some clues about who is the man behind KOTD?
I like to remain anonymous. It is fun that way. I'm not a big 'hey look at me' type of guy. Not that big of an attention go getter. I like to keep it low-key and would rather not give any clues about me on an interview. But I am someone who grew up in Southern California. I horseback ride and play croquet in my spare time, ha no, I do surf. I get comments all the time that say "I bet this dude that runs it doesn't even surf, you're a kook". I get it, yes, I am a kook. Just go out, go surf, and have fun. Who cares what I post or say…. F$%& it