Research has found that just living in sight of water can make you calmer, happier and more creative. We can attest to this fact, and so can the Hutchison family. Johno and Bernice’s stories start in KwaZulu-Natal.

Johno grew up on our coast and attended the well-established Umhlali Preparatory School before finishing at Stanger High School. Bernice grew up in the Maidstone village, attending primary school there and then completing high school at Danville Girls in Durban North. Being two very adventurous people, their lives have been full of international travelling and surfing, even in remote locations and untouched areas of Madagascar, Sri Lanka and the far-flung islands of Indonesia.

After Johno worked at Safari Surfboards for eight years, it was time for a change, so they were off to Hawaii, where they lived on the North Shore for several years. Johno shaped boards alongside some of the best shapers in the world. On their return, having grown up on our coast, they knew this place was home to some of the best surf, a great climate, a friendly community, and a relaxed beach town lifestyle. The couple is fourth-generation locals to Ballito, with their great-grandparents buying property here many decades ago.

Being part of the surfing community, Johno saw an opportunity to tie his passion for surfing with supplying handcrafted surfboards to all avid surfers. Hutchison Handcrafted has been crafting quality surfboards since 1982. Johno prides himself in still being able to handshape boards and create unique surfboards with intentional designs. He boasts a beautiful range of customised fabric in-lays, resin tints and creative shapes.

Almost three decades ago, they had a business opportunity to open a hardcore surf shop with surfing apparel right near the main beach of Ballito. Groundswell Surf & Skate has been operating since 1998. Their passion for surfing and love for our hometown inspires them to continue offering an incredible selection of surfboards, including their Hutchison Handcrafted surfboards, surfing and skateboarding equipment, the latest fashion items, and a large range of swimwear and beach accessories. They focus on providing every customer with the best service and the widest range of local and international products.

Johno and Bernice’s ambitious and entrepreneurial traits have been passed down to both their daughters. The oldest, Malia, has her own gifting and decor shop. She opened The Fat Whale Gifts in Ballito in 2017 and then relocated to Durban North in 2021. She offers a curated collection of over 50 local brands, a perfect spot to shop and support local businesses! Malia recently launched her Cheeky Co Cards company to supply her own gift store and others.

The youngest, Chloe, with seven years of experience in online strategy, graphic design, social media and e-commerce management gained through working in both her parents’ businesses, started her own company, Happy Daze Design, in 2022. As a creative freelancer, she offers a variety of unique online services such as graphic and logo design, branding, content creation, social media management and strategy, website design and management, as well as commission artwork. You could say that this family is full of extremely hard workers. They have put their hearts into their work and thrive on making customer experiences memorable. “It’s never been about the final destination, but rather the daily journey and making memories along the way. Everything has been rooted in love,” says Chloe.

A family that supports one another thrives.


As we head into one of the busiest times in our town with The Ballito Pro, did you know that the Hutchison family is always involved in the event? Johno’s passion for surfing is affirmed by his many years of experience as a top internationally accredited surfing judge, having run the Zululand Surfing Association with Bernice. Together, in the earlier years, they hosted two successful “Hutchison Handcrafted Pro” surf events with winners like Jordy Smith, Lyle Bottcher, Travis Logie, Ricky Basnett, Sarah Maritz, Tammy-lee Smith and Tamarys De Maroussem. This opened the stage for many more events to follow, including the current Ballito Pro Challenger Series.

For the past few years, Johno has moved up to become the contest director, overseeing many major decisions throughout the event. Bernice manages the surfer’s area, ensuring everything runs smoothly with the athletes. Groundswell Surf Shop sponsored the original floating trophies, which you can check out in-store. Well-known local furniture craftsman Conrad Nalson was the original trophy designer. Every year he replicates these beautiful trophies for the winner and runner-up of each division to take home. Chloe has been involved with VIP registration and managing the surfers for many years. She has also been on the juniors’ and women’s judging panels. Last year, she shadow-judged on the panel of the main event, growing in her experience as an internationally accredited surfing judge. Malia has assisted with VIP registration and various admin tasks throughout the years. So yes, it’s always been a family affair! They have created core memories celebrating a sport that means so much to all of them.

After growing with our town, the Hutchison family has fuelled their creativity and entrepreneurial skills, creating these amazing businesses for locals and visitors alike to enjoy. The statement is true: even just being in sight of water can make you more creative and, well, spark some amazing ideas! The Hutchisons are the true epitome of “family supporting family” by working together and cheering each other on through any challenge.




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