By Pat ShermanA second-grader at Stella Maris Academy and a La Jolla High School graduate have turned to the popular online crowdsourcing website kickstarter.com to raise money for their creative projects.
With help from her father, 8-year-old Mary Turquand raised $3,600 for startup costs needed to manufacture her self-designed balance board at a San Diego facility, instead of in China, where she and her father, Glynn Turquand, originally planned to make them.
The entrepreneurial father-daughter duo raised the money in just 48 hours through Kickstarter, which claims to have funneled more than $1 billion from 5.7 million donors to help finance film, music, journalism and other projects since its 2009 launch.
Mary, better known to friends and family by her middle name, Ripples, got the idea for her “Milkshake Board” last summer while practicing yoga poses on her great-grandfather’s toolbox.
Amused and inspired, her father gave her a T-square, particle board and markers and challenged her to design her own yoga balance board.
“You can use it to stretch, balance and do yoga,” Ripples boasted of her 4-foot-long all-wood board. She said learning to balance on an unstable surface helps build core strength required for surfing and snow skiing, the latter of which she has done since age 4. The board — designed for both children and adults — can also be used to do push ups, sit-ups, planks and other exercises.
“My aunt (La Jolla Methodist Nursery School teacher Beth Ruiz) started teaching yoga classes, so I got the idea from her,” Ripples conceded, noting that several classmates at Stella Maris have already ordered Milkshake Boards (which will be available April 1).
“Ripples is taking pre-orders,” her father chimed with laughter, noting that he initially visited factories in Shenzhen, China, to inquire about manufacturing them there, though ran into problems — chief among them, quality control.
“Since I am within driving distance of the San Diego factory I will be able to monitor production,” said Glynn Turquand, co-owner of Xterra Wetsuits. “I’ll make sure that all the boards look like the great samples they produced.”
Changes to the initial concept included Ripples’ suggestion that handles be added to make the board easier to carry. Following a chance encounter with Canadian wood veneer makers vacationing in La Jolla, Ripples and her father decided to make the boards out of sustainably harvested Canadian maple and birch woods.
The Canadian couple also clued in Ripples and her father to San Diego-based Watson Laminates, which have manufactured skateboards for leading action sports companies since 1975.
“They made the introduction and Ripples and I visited their factory,” Glynn Turquand said. “Within three days the owner had made a prototype that was better than the one we made in China.”
The San Diego startup cost was $3,600 more than that of Chinese companies (thus the Kickstarter campaign to raise the remaining funds). The boards can be preordered for $135 at
Latin wanderlustLorena Santana, a Tijuana native who was raised in La Jolla and graduated from La Jolla High in 1990, is hoping to have similar success with her effort to pitch a travel documentary series urging people to reacquaint themselves with the hidden wonders of Baja, Mexico.
She has until April 1 on Kickstarter to raise $12,000 needed to develop four episodes of her series, “Barefoot in Baja,” which she plans on pitching to KPBS TV.
The project is sponsored by the nonprofit Media Arts Center San Diego, which means that donations are tax-deductible, said Santana, who attended the La Jolla Playhouse Young Performers’ Workshop in high school, going on to study in UC San Diego’s theater program.
An avid traveler and ocean enthusiast who now lives in Mission Hills, but can be found regularly swimming La Jolla Cove and surfing local breaks, Santana said her series is designed to “encourage women to explore and adventure off the beaten path in Baja.”
“Baja has gained a lot of bad press,” said Santana, a San Diego Unified School District visual and performing arts teacher. “One of my goals was to turn that around and to show people that Baja is this incredible place — and it’s right next door to us.
“I’m not saying go out by yourself,” she stressed. “I’m saying that, if you are woman and you’d like to go and travel, it is possible if you take all the necessary precautions and you are educated and you know exactly where you’re going.”
In her first few installments (which can be viewed on YouTube.com), Santana sniffed out the best tacos in Tijuana and traveled to Guadalupe Canyon Hot Springs, where every campsite has its own private, natural hot springs. “One of my friends from La Jolla High’s husband proposed to her there,” she said. “It’s a magical place.”
Santana hopes to visit more less common destinations in Baja, including Rancho Meling, a cattle ranch at the base of the Sierra San Pedro Mártir Mountains. “You would never imagine that there’s pine trees in Baja, but the higher up you go, it gets incredible,” she said. “It’s like Julian.”
To donate or view an informational video on the series at Kickstarter, visit