Young guns take on world

In 2006 screen printer Declan Wise and graphic designer Jono Salfield packed up their van filled with edgy, skate-inspired clothing samples and headed for Melbourne.

The young Byron Bay men spent six weeks pounding the pavement looking for shops to stock their new clothing label, Afends, and living out of their mobile home.

Five years later, Afends products are sold in more than 200 retail outlets across Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa, and the company employs more than 20 people in Australia alone.

In August, distribution of the Afends brand is expected to start in the USA.

Speaking about the Afends success, Declan said hard work, motivation, passion, good advice and having the right staff were paramount for any business.

“You have to love what you do and want to succeed,” he said.

“I left school at 16 with an ambition to start my own business and I now feel that I have achieved this and have done and learnt way more than any university would have given me.”

Declan and two other successful young entrepreneurs from Byron Bay, Nigel Halsam from Motion Circus and Dave Keam from Skuff TV, will share their tips for transforming business ideas into action at a free workshop next Tuesday (May 31).

An initiative of the North Coast Innovation Festival, the three-hour event will offer practical advice and tips to help people develop or grow their business, pitch their ideas to investors and lenders and find and partner with the right people to inspire their team to think and act like entrepreneurs.

Hosted by the NSW Government, the Young Entrepreneurs workshop is a one-off opportunity to hear first-hand from local businesses who have carved their niches in Australian and international markets.

“While each of these presenters has a different story to tell, what they have in common is passion, commitment and the capacity to capitalise on their unique skills and talents,” according to Katrina Luckie, chief executive officer for Regional Development Australia – Northern Rivers.

Motion Circus is a visual effects and animation studio located in Byron Bay that was co-founded in 2009 by Nigel to provide remote services for broadcast and film industries.

With a background in computer-generated animation, Nigel is currently working on international and national advertisements from his Byron home, while developing his creative interests as a screenwriter, animator, director and producer.

He also owns and operates – a company that simulates crowds for film and broadcast media using software developed for huge battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Graphic designer and professional free skier Dave Keam is managing director of New Beach Media and presenter on the company’s multi-platform action sports and music TV show, Skuff TV.

The show has produced more than 170 episodes since starting four years ago and has a global audience of more than 1.3 million viewers every month.

The Young Entrepreneurs Workshop will be held from 11am at the Byron Bay Community Centre.

To register, visit or email

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