This Cape Town ‘jack of all trades’ creates trendy sunglasses from old skateboards
[Sept 30, 2021: Tanya Waterworth]
Necessity being the mother of all invention saw ‘jack of all trades’ Dave de Witt create sunglasses from old skateboards. Here he is performing a layback in a ditch. (CREDIT: Jansen Van Staden)
Tertiary education is not always the answer for a future career and former Pinetown resident, Dave de Witt sets an example of how to be a success with a little lateral thinking.
De Witt, who moved to Cape Town two years ago, makes sunglasses from old skateboards.
He came up with the idea one Friday morning in 2012 when he was at a loose end.
Having been a skateboarder from a young age, De Witt grew up in the skateboarding culture of Durban. “I used to go and skate at the Sanlam Centre in central Pinetown. I also worked at The Wavehouse and of course went to the skate park on the beachfront.
“My dad was very handy, from plumbing to electrical and carpentry, around the house, so I learned my basic skills from him. I worked for a while for a textile group in New Germany where I was sent on a few courses using hand tools and I qualified as a loom tuner,” he said this week, adding his mother was a seamstress, so handy skills were an integral part of his childhood.
De Witt also got involved in building skate parks and ramps, worked as a flow ride instructor as well as spending time working on a cruise ship.
But then his much-used pair of sunglasses broke and he decided to make a pair from wood.
“I was working as a carpenter and handyman in a one-man band capacity and when it came to time versus money, I had way more of the former,” he said, adding that the only wood he had lying around was an old skateboard.
“There was only enough for one frame, but that’s what got me started, Sk8Shades was born,” he said.
Having grown up as part of the millennial generation, De Witt said upcycling to make products was always the way to go.
“I also went to Sarnia Primary where there was quite a bit of focus on not littering and recycling.”
He collected used skateboards from around the country, but particularly from the skateboarding community in Durban, trading the old for a new skateboard or a pair of his sunglasses.
“This keeps used skateboards out of landfill and puts fresh wood under skaters feet. The veneers on the wood of skateboards are so rad as well,” he said.
And most of his tools are second-hand.
“I used to go to all the pawn shops in the Bluff and Pinetown to get my tools, you don’t have to buy new tools and I’m not scared to take tools apart and fix them,” he said.
De Witt’s sunglasses are particularly popular with international tourists visiting Cape Town and are being snapped up in Johannesburg.
He revamped iFani’s grandma’s oversized shades which define the rapper’s signature look, while Durban skateboarder, Khule Ngubane, who is making it big on the international skateboard scene, has also worn his Sk8Shades.
De Witt, who still skateboards at least twice a week, said with spending a lot of time outdoors, high quality lenses were a must for him and which he also applied to his sunglasses.
“I use high-quality polarised lenses which are UV-protected, shock absorbing and scratch resistant along with stainless steel spring hinges.
“Customers can also request polarised mirror lenses,” he said.
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