Coming at you direct from the middle of nowhere to the center of everywhere, it's the Beneath the Surface Podcast with BOTE CEO and Co-Founder, Corey Cooper, along with world-renowned photographer and BOTE Director of Photography, Sean Murphy. In this week's episode, Sean and Corey tell tall tales of their first trip to Belize, meeting Jeff Speigel owner of Cayo Frances Fly & Farm, and how the BOTE House Belize came to be.
Remember the days when people could travel freely without having to consider contracting or spreading a virus? Ahh, good times. This episode is the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax, and dream of more 'normal' times.
COMING AT YOU DIRECT, FROM THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, TO THE CENTER OF EVERYWHERE.
WHO'S IN THE EPISODE
Lead Designer, Co-Founder, and CEO at BOTE, Corey Cooper is a licensed engineer hailing from Auburn University. Corey is the pioneer of the DarkRoom, assisting with the design of the machinery, concepting the layout and ultimately developing the workflow used in DarkRoom production. Corey's passion for this project is so strong that on any given day, regardless of how busy things are at BOTE, you will often find Corey working in the DarkRoom.
Sean Murphy is the Director of Photography at BOTE and a world-renowned photographer based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. After spending most of his career based in Los Angeles, shooting for brands like Adidas, Red Bull, and Toyota, just to name a few, Sean moved back to the Redneck Riviera. You can find Sean capturing gritty America and spontaneous moments that translate into visually stunning photography.
"The KULA, for those of you guys familiar, is our very unique, round, badass all around, tough-guy cooler. This thing was a unique creation in itself. It's its own brand kind of inside the BOTE brand." – Corey Cooper, CEO and Co-Founder at BOTE
Jeff Spiegel, a man of many talents, is the owner and operator of Cayo Frances Farm & Fly based on Ambergris Caye. Jeff arrived in Belize some 18+ years ago after a successful career running a punk rock label with dreams of becoming a chef and opening a small resort and beach bar. With no previous experience in the kitchen, he spent the next decade learning and running a kitchen. With 10 years of kitchen experience under his belt, he decided it was time for a change of pace which led to him opening Cayo Frances Farm & Fly.
LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
The home of BOTE House Belize: Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Planning a trip? Don't forget to pack your Inflatable SUP Boards.
Get to know San Pedro, Belize.
The BOTE House Belize is available for anyone to utilize. As a brand, BOTE feels that this place and the experiences and unique adventures you can find here are what it's all about. It's why we do what we do and provide the type of products we do. "We are not a board, a t-shirt, a hat ... we are BOTE."
Sean and Corey are back for another episode of Beneath the Surface, the BOTE podcast series started in the early days of quarantine. From photoshoots to product development, Beneath the Surface is a behind the scenes look at everything that goes on at BOTE.
00:02:04 Paradise Found
Just off of mainland Belize sits Ambergris Caye. A tropical paradise that has grown into ground zero for BOTE's product inspiration, product testing, and video shoots. Not to mention the perfect place to hang with good friends, meet new ones, and just do rad shit. Like, outrun a tsunami.
00:03:33 Tracing the Origins of the BOTE House Belize
It started out in 2015 as a chance meeting when Jeff Spiegel called the BOTE HQ in need of some boards for a fish camp he was starting down in Belize. Corey saw this as an opportunity, or at the very least a really good excuse, to take a trip down South, make new friends and shoot some cool content.
00:04:49 Jeff Speigel, from Punk Rock Label to the Playa
Jeff first landed in Belize over 18 years ago. A transplant from San Francisco, Jeff left behind a punk rock record label he started in exchange for sandy white beaches and dreams of becoming a chef and opening up a small resort and beach bar. After making a name for himself in the kitchen, even hosting Andrew Zimmern of Bizzare Foods in his kitchen, Jeff decided it was again time to reinvent himself. This time he decided to start a small scale eco fishing camp in the jungle 10-15 miles south of the border of Mexico accessible only by boat.
00:07: Swing that hammer, Jeff
Before their first conversation, Corey's wheels are already turning and he was putting plans together to go down to Belize to shoot a quick story about Jeff and his camp. What Corey doesn't realize is that Jeff is still in the early stages of building the camp. Strapped for time, the BOTE crew sees this as their only opportunity to make the video happen. With a little sweet talking, Jeff agrees to the plan.
Jeff: "Whoa, whoa, whoa...I'm still in the building process"
Sean: "Better swing that hammer, Jeff!"
00:09:07 The Clampetts head to Belize
Within two weeks of the first conversation, the BOTE crew is packed to the brim with inflatable SUP boards, KULA coolers, fishing rods, and thousands of dollars worth of camera gear, and on their way to meet up with Jeff. With very little knowledge of where exactly they are going Jeff plans out the logistics for the BOTE crew to make their way to the Caye. After several flights from Fort Walton to Belize city, a nightmare of a check-in with their eighty bags of gear through customs, a six-seater puddle jumper to San Pedro, and cruising the dirt roads of Ambergris Caye on golf carts they finally arrive at the beachfront only to realize there's still a ways to go. A little buzzed up and disoriented from all of the travel they decide to walk around and get a taste of the local scene while they wait for the skiffs to arrive that will take them to their final destination.
00:12:10 Jeff's Place
After finally arriving at Jeff's place they get a lay of the land and Jeff puts his chef skills to use whipping up a good meal then walking them around the farm to show off what he's got going on and all the different varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs he's growing on the farm.
00:14:10 Levi Garret & Campfire Tales with New Friends
While Sean's slaying bonefish in the creek Corey is passing the bottle around the campfire and blasting cigs with their new friend and one of the guides, Kevin. The late night campfire rolls right into an early morning boat ride that doesn't start off too great for Kevin, the guide and boat captain, who managed to "get food poisoning".
00:15:47 Give me a jig
Not accustomed to the hipster way of fishing, Corey and Sean are let down when they see a giant cobia chasing a turtle and realize the only functioning gear on the boat is fly rods.
"Cobia will eat a turd on a hook", Sean Murphy.
00:17:45 Cayo Frances Farm & Fly
What started out as a trip South to shoot some really cool content at Jeff's new fish camp, Cayo Frances Farm & Fly, an immaculate camp offering world class food and fishing, evolved into a lasting friendship and eventually a business opportunity that supports Jeff's growing business.
00:20:00 BOTE House Belize is Born
Following the trip down to Belize, Corey and Jeff stay in touch. As Jeff's business grows he sees an opportunity for expansion and reaches back out to BOTE. For Corey, this was a no brainer and what started out as a sketch on a napkin turns into a camp expansion and the BOTE House Belize is born.
00:22:45 Building in Belize
Construction starts as soon as Corey gives the okay to Jeff. Within weeks Jeff is sending updates and the BOTE crew can't believe how fast the house is getting built. Especially for a project on a remote island with limited access to the necessary resources.
00:23:15 Bonefishing Belize
Sean and Shane head out on the water with one of the Cayo Frances guides. After a 14 hour day shooting some of the guys fly fishing, they leave sunburnt and unimpressed again by the idea of fly fishing. On their way back to the house they fire up the engine and end up spooking a school of fish that they previously hadn't seen. Rob spiderwebs a fly to his line and hooks one in what ended up being the last cast of long ass day on the water.
00:27:09 Experiencing SUP Fishing and the best of Cayo Frances Farm & Fly
For the BOTE crew, Belize has turned into the perfect spot to detach and refocus on the purpose of BOTE and what our products are meant for. Our experiences in Belize have given birth to a number of new products and helped us fine-tune older ones.