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Young entrepreneur rides her gnarliest wave yet: 8-year-old launches youth surfer magazine

Updated: 
March 10, 2017 - 1:15am

PUAKO — On a hot afternoon last June, Tanner Bromberg was having a tough time finding a magazine in the airport gift shop worth reading during her family’s long flight to Cape Town, South Africa. An enthusiastic surfer, the typical children’s publications sold there seemed less than interesting.

Then she got an idea. Why not produce her own magazine just for groms — or young surfers — that would focus on their favorite pastime? Tanner proceeded to brainstorm with her parents on what it would look like, and surf-centric sections that children would find intriguing.

Her hard work has paid off. Grom It! — her new magazine — premiered in Hawaii earlier this month.

A third-grader at Parker School, Tanner spent the last six months getting input from classmates, teachers and friends.

“When we first thought about the idea we had 10 different names for the magazine,” Tanner said. “I would go around the school at recess with my notebook and ask other students which name they liked best.”

Some of her classmates thought she was just dreaming. But two weeks ago, she brought her first printed copy of the magazine to share with them, hot off the press.

“When we walked in and they saw the magazine, there were a lot of ‘ahhhh, that’s Tanner’s magazine!’” her mom, Kerry, said. “Everyone was crowding around.”

“I was excited because several weeks ago I was telling one of my friends, Oscar, about the magazine and he said, ‘It won’t be a real magazine. It will only have two pages or something.’ When he saw the real thing, he had a ‘wowie’ blank stare,” Tanner added.

The Brombergs worked with Flagship Custom Publishing’s Waimea office to design and produce the 36-page, color, semi-annual magazine. It caters to young surfers on Hawaii Island, throughout the state and around the world.

Tanner started surfing when she was 6.

“Right now I’m surfing at Pine Trees and Banyans, both near Kona” she said. “We also go to Oahu every six weeks and we like to surf at Waikiki. You can catch the waves so easily there, and we have a really good surf instructor at Faith Surf School.”

When she participated in her first surf competition, her Waikiki instructor, Tony Moniz, had her back.

“He’s kind of like the godfather of surfing over there,” Kerry said. “He said he would paddle out with her, and Tanner’s dad, Bruce, knew she was with the best of the best.”

Back on the Big Island, Tanner’s instructor is Dominic “Dom” Del Rosario from Kona Surf School. She currently surfs on a Jimmy O’Brien Odyssey board but is eagerly awaiting a new board that is being custom-made by Outlaw Johnny’s Surfboards.

“It’s a 4-foot 11-inch board, and has the Grom It! logo on it and different shades of blues,” Tanner said.

During the school year, she surfs once a week. Her closest surfing pal is Dominic’s 8-year-old son, Kaha Kai.

So far, she has competed in three surfing events: the T&C Surf contest in Honolulu, and two in Kona — the HSA (Hawaii Surfing Association Big Island) and Shane Dorian’s Keiki Classic this past January.

The biggest wave she has surfed was a 6-foot surge in Waikiki.

“I want to be a pro surfer one day. My biggest idols are John John Florence and Torrey Meister,” Tanner said.

She also sees the importance of safety when out in the ocean.

“If you are a beginner or not very comfortable surfing big waves, I would surf the inside break, closer to the shore, and stay away from rocks,” Tanner said.

When she first started surfing, her parents realized she needed to know how to swim in open waters and enrolled her in ocean swim classes with Rene Ross in Kauna’oa Bay.

“If she was ever out there on her own, she needed to know how to handle currents and waves. But the biggest lesson her instructor taught her was to relax,” Kerry said. “If she gets under and tumbles, she immediately knows to relax and not panic.”

While paddling out on her board, Tanner’s favorite sea animals to spot are turtles, yellow tang fish and her favorite – the humuhumunukunukuapua’a.

“We’ve seen dolphins farther out too,” she said.

Tanner continues to take open water swim classes every Monday.

“Rene throws goggles in the water and they have to dive down, hold their breath and go under the raft, “Kerry said. “She feels confident out there, and I know she knows what to do in a riptide, a current, or if she gets dumped.”

Her parents have played different roles helping Tanner develop the magazine.

“We’re her financial backers at the moment,” Kerry said with a laugh. “I call myself the MOTE — the mother of the editor. I definitely connect the dots for Tanner’s ideas. She came to us and said, ‘I want to do the magazine’, and I honestly thought she was going to take a bunch of printed pages, scribble on it, write a bunch of things, put a staple in it and say she had a magazine to give out to the neighbors and her class. But she sat down one day with Bruce at the computer and asked him for help. She said, ‘This is what I would like,’ and came up with all the columns.”

Her dad, who happens to be a nationally recognized chef, had a column idea too.

“He said, ‘Well, maybe we could have something about food,’ and we came up with the ‘Grom Grindz’ section for easy, healthy snacks that young surfers can make at home,” Tanner said.

She wanted the publication to be interactive as well, so they created a surf quiz page, a word puzzle, a two-page poster that children can pull out and hang on the wall and a design-your-own-surfboard competition with prizes — all in the first edition.

“Tanner kept saying, ‘They need to be able to write in it,’” Kerry said. “That hit a chord with us — the fact that there is nothing else like that out there, no interactive surf magazine targeted for kids where they can do stuff.”

She also did all of the interviews, and learned about questions to ask, deadlines and proofreading.

Tanner has big hopes for her new magazine.

“My overall goal is for it to come to every surf store in the world,” Tanner said. “I just want to get it out there.”

To date, Grom It! can be found in Kona Boys, the surf shops at Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa Resort and Under the Bodhi Tree in Mauna Lani. Next week, the mother/daughter team will hand deliver copies to stores in Honolulu.

“My hope is to have it in Billabong, Volcom, Rip Curl, Locomotion, Surf and Sandels, PacSun and Quiksilver,” Tanner said. “I really want young groms to read it as far away as Australia and New Zealand.”

In addition to the print edition, they already have a presence on Instagram at gromitsurf. The website, with some of the articles, went live this week at www.gromitsurf.com.

“We made her dream a reality because she was so into it. It isn’t every day an 8-year-old says she wants to start a magazine. She loves to write and we wanted to nurture something that she loves,” Kerry said. “Today, I feel like kids are often put into a ‘one-way-fits-all’ approach in the education system where not all of their individuality and talents are utilized. I thought this was a great way to harbor what she was interested in, to let her do something, allow it to come to fruition and see it through. I think that’s a life lesson. She teaches me things every day. She’s always thought big.”

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