When Malcolm Bradley first started skating, he would go out at night so no one could see him fall.
The Duncan of Jordanstone graduate discovered his love for skateboarding while studying product design.
Already being a craftsman and woodworker, he realised he could combine his passions by making skateboards.
After graduating, he started the university’s residency programme where he experimented with his own type of skateboard.
He took his idea to the university’s Venture Competition in 2020 and won £3,000.
When the pandemic hit, he took his prize money back to his parents’ house to start his business The Bonny Company.
“I moved home and set up shop in my parents’ little run down, mouldy, wet outhouse building and started there,” Malcolm recalls.
A unique skateboard build
The Bonny Company skateboards are not the boards you would find in a normal store.
Malcolm’s skateboards contain 11 layers of Canadian maple and cork.
The standard is seven layers of Canadian maple.
He says: “Canadian maple is the perfect wood for skateboards getting abused and thrashed around the park. It’s a really strong, rigid wood.
“The reason for cork was to use it for its properties, mainly vibration dampening properties.
“That makes it really good for longboards and cruiser type boards, because it makes a really smooth ride that’s good for commuting.
“My boards, that’s kind of my technology, with the layers of cork.
“That hasn’t really been done before.”
To go with the maple and cork, Malcolm has a choice of three types of veneer to decorate the board with.
Smoked eucalyptus, wild cherry or European walnut add a unique look to each Bonny skateboard.
For added decoration, Malcolm can laser etch designs on the board that don’t hide the wood underneath.
He says: “Being a fan of wood, I don’t like big colourful graphics completely covering it.
“With laser etching it means you can get a much more subtle graphic, so far I’ve done tree graphics of woods that I’ve used in my boards.”
The Bonny Company handcrafted skateboards
Malcolm now rents workshop space by The Circle on Staffa Place where he creates his skateboards.
The 11 layers of wood and cork need to be glued up, before they are placed in a mould.
A press applies 40 tonnes of pressure to the board and it then has to cure for a week allowing the glue to completely dry.
Malcolm then shapes each board by hand, to ensure it is ready to hit the streets.
He says: “When you’re making each board individually, one after another, it guarantees a quality that you’re not going to get with mass produced boards.
“It means they’re going to be a little more expensive, but I think people’s attitude towards local business is changing, which is really encouraging for small makers like me.”
Innovation beyond skateboards
The Bonny Company’s skateboards range in price from £160 to £190.
Malcolm has also started experimenting with a standard seven-ply skateboard he is hoping to batch produce for skate shops.
A traditional park skateboard – the one skaters do tricks and jump around with – requires “a good pop”, which is why Malcolm makes them without his cork layer.
He says: “Skateboards have found the perfect pop for tricks and ollies in the park, whereas longboarding has much more room for innovation.
“Because longboarding is all about how the ride feels and how fast you can go.
“My boards fall in between these two categories, there’s cruisers that are really smooth, but also hitting a style with the different veneers and the education about sustainability.
“It’s been interesting innovating in an area that’s so developed, but finding a niche that I think people like has been pretty cool.”
In the spirit of sustainability, Malcolm is launching a skateboard corkboard as an alternative to using skateboards for wall decorations.
His corkboard contains 70% less maple than a normal skateboard to save the wood for functional boards.
Malcolm is planning a whole new range outside of his skateboards called Bonny Interiors.
He says: “One of the main products in the interiors will be our skateboard notice boards, and the idea behind that is people use boards as art.
“I called it The Bonny Company rather than Bonny Boards just to keep it Scottish and not close any doors.
“This whole idea of combining cork with wood doesn’t stop with the skateboards.”