James Moseley is the founder of Sister Betsy, a company by surfers for surfers. The company specializes in hand poured surf wax that is organic and made locally in Venice, California. The Sister Betsy brand is focused on inspiring its customers to break the status quo and pursue their dreams.

When deciding on a name for his company, James drew inspiration from the popular song Bam Bam by well-known reggae artist, Sister Nancy. Reggae music has long been ingrained in surfing culture. Though it is not the only music surfers listen to, it really encapsulates the laid-back lifestyle that is promoted by surfers and has helped them share their culture within the surfing community. Even the word “Bam” has been defined as meaning that an individual’s spirit cannot be held within any confines.

James himself has chosen to go his own way in life, not cling to traditional nine to five business roles or the traditional ways of breaking into an industry through things like unpaid internships. Instead, he has decided to start a successful business from scratch and make a name for himself within the industry. With this business he spreads his message of following what one believes in and going his own way and in this way achieving a positive influence with his customers. With this positive message he reaches an audience of younger surfers especially well.

The products created by Sister Betsy, the surf wax in particular has gone through rigorous testing and designing before James found the best formula that would have incredible longevity for surfers. The wax is manufactured in America and is also made with organic materials during a manual pouring process. The hexagonal shape of the wax is not only a unique and aesthetically pleasing choice of design, but also ensures easy handling. The ease of use is great for beginners as well as professional surfers, like Nate Yeoman, who helped James test the wax to find the perfect formula. Nate Yeoman has been a huge supporter of Sister Betsy Surf Wax and has become a sponsor of the products as well.
James set out to not only build a business but build an amazing product that surfers would love to use, and then grow his brand and company organically around it. James does everything very carefully and considers what will have the biggest impact on those who will consume his products. James Moseley is very involved in all aspects of the business with Sister Betsy and loves interacting with his customers.

How did you get started in this business?

I have been a surfer for years. I always knew that I wanted to be part of the World Surf League (WSL) but that I would take my own path to get there so I started Sister Betsy from the ground up as a way to break into the industry as a “business owner” while also staying true to what our brand represents as far as breaking free from the status quo as well.

How do you make money?

I charge money for the products I sell. When deciding how much to charge for my wax and other products, I always make sure that my products are accessible to a wide range of customers. For instance, I priced the wax very reasonably at only $12 for a pack of 4.

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

I am still in the beginning of my business, but I have had a lot of success. Many companies don’t see a profit for 2 years or more. I am grateful for the support I have had this past year and I am also very proud of the success my brand has seen. If I had to make suggestions for keeping costs down when starting a business, I would suggest keeping things local as much as possible and when you can be involved in the process too. I enjoy pouring wax and overseeing that part of production whenever I can. It not only helps keep those costs low, it keeps the company authentic and keeps those humble, local roots that Sister Betsy is all about.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

There was a moment when I had an issue with a manufacturer. It was a bit discouraging to have to start over at that point but it was also a great lesson learned. You know, sometimes your friends will tell you what you want to hear and say that something is great but when I was getting help from Nate he really provided me with some great, nonbiased feedback. In the end, I may have had to redo a lot of product but it was better for the consumer that I made that call and I learned that it is best to listen to the right people and make the right calls no matter whether it sets you back or costs more. I always want my company to have integrity and stay genuine.

How did you get your first customer?

Of course my friends were early supporters of mine. They helped to spread the word and then Sister Betsy Wax started getting picked up by local surf shops and I also put more work into my Instagram page at that pint too.

What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

I put a lot of work into my Instagram page but I prefer to do so in a genuine way and not thru typical advertising. I don’t feel like my customer base is going to appreciate an ad in their face, I feel like they appreciate seeing Insta Stories of others sharing that they are using Sister Betsy Wax and that they are excited to be using it, they are tagging us and then others will visit the page and order. It is a much more organic way of interacting with customers and growing the brand without forcing it.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

I think the hardest part was when I had to make that decision to redo that bad batch of wax. I had lost a lot of money when that happened. But again, it was the right call to make and I grew a lot as a “business person” when it happened.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

Along with having a great support system, I think it would be my persistence that helps me to succeed.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

I had been trying to get our wax into a particular surf shop for a while. I was on the phone with the shop owner talking about the opportunity and trying to get them to place a real order. It has been taking a few months. One day, I gave the store a call and spoke with one of the owners, trying to get this deal done and throughout the course of the conversation, he looked at our website and he says “I’ve seen your product before” which took me off guard because at the moment we weren’t in too many places. The he said that his daughter and her friends were already using Sister Betsy wax! It gave me goosebumps to think that this legendary store owner’s daughter had been using our product. It could not have been a better product testimony and it was a shoo-in after that. It was also a super validating moment for me not only that he placed the order but that my wax was out there being circulated on its own.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

I am excited for all of it! The Sister Betsy brand is just getting started in its growth and I am so excited to keep giving back to these kids that have loved using the products, to grow within the industry and expand our product line. There are so many exciting things coming up for the Sister Betsy brand so stay tuned!

What business books have inspired you?

I am excited for all of it! The Sister Betsy brand is just getting started in its growth and I am so excited to keep giving back to these kids that have loved using the products, to grow within the industry and expand our product line. There are so many exciting things coming up for the Sister Betsy brand so stay tuned!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Honestly, I would have just told myself to start even sooner. I would have tried to give myself a little more motivation to do it on my own. If I had to relay a message to those younger ones that follow our brand, that would be the message I would want to tell them too: that you are capable of doing whatever you want to do.

Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?

For sure! You can reach out to me through our Instagram @sisterbetsyssurfwax and send me a DM. I will be sure to respond!


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