Photography by Kenrick Mills
It’s not often one meets their business partner when they’re 2 years old, but that’s how it went for Jupiter natives and lifelong friends Cate Kelly and Kim Vanderpol. As next-door neighbors living across the street from Jupiter’s beaches, it seemed the two were destined for a life near the water—and one another.
“We were always playing in the ocean,” says Vanderpol, who along with Kelly owns and operates Carve Surf and Coffee in Tequesta. “We started surfing competitively in ESA and NSSA in our early teens, and we would see how the Californian and Hawaiian girls were surfing. That was the one thing we looked forward to, and it stayed a hobby and overall lifestyle.”
The friends often reminisced on those times after choosing careers at IT companies, but something kept pulling them back to the water. One evening, Kelly and Vanderpol decided to write down everything they spent their lives enjoying and three things kept reappearing: surfing, the beach and communal rituals, like drinking coffee.
“We needed to take life into our own hands and do something fun,” Vanderpol recalls of the business plan they created after that initial brainstorming session. “The coffee community is all about sharing time together, and the surf community is really tight-knit and extends out of the water. We felt the two fit together really nicely.”
Carve, which opened in January, blends the duo’s passions into a coffee shop and surf club—a program that gives members access to nearly two dozen surfboards (along with a board bag, recycled leashes and fins) whenever the surf’s up. The recycled foam and plant-based resin boards were custom-built with the environment in mind.
“Historically, surfboards have been made with materials that ultimately pollute our oceans,” Vanderpol says. “Over time, people developed plant-based resins and discovered that you can ride a surfboard made with recycled foam instead of virgin foam.”
Vanderpol and Kelly worked with two local shapers who created thicker boards specifically for Florida’s smaller waves using eco-friendly materials the women helped source. “[The shapers] had never used these materials before, so it was cool because we were introducing them to more sustainable ways to shape their surfboards,” Vanderpol says.
The inventory is ecoboard-certified through California non-profit Sustainable Surf, and now, members can enjoy riding the waves on ocean-friendly boards without shelling out hundreds of dollars for one that may not suit their needs or standards.
“We don’t sell the boards; we have this membership aspect,” Vanderpol explains of the club, which costs $99 a month or $45 for a day. “It’s sort of like a boat club, but for surfboards. There’s an experimental aspect to it that makes it fun and helps people discover new [boards] that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to try.”
And then there’s the coffee. The owners wanted to bring something different to the area while still offering a South Florida product, and Miami’s Panther Coffee seemed like a perfect fit. Pair that with empanadas from Tartastic in Boca Raton, and vegan, gluten-free pastries from Importico’s Bakery Cafe in Stuart, along with a Wednesday evening yoga class, and the duo offers a space surfers and non-surfers alike can enjoy.
“We are really thoughtful and specific about the items we carry,” Vanderpol says. “We have two requirements, either that it’s locally made or sustainably made. It’s taken us a while to build up our offerings, and we still have a lot of room to grow.”
For now, the women run the business solo and take turns hitting the beach they grew up loving. “We split every day so one person has the morning off and one person has the afternoon off, and usually the other person is in the water,” Vanderpol says. “They might show up to their shift with wet, sandy hair.”