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Bottom Up Fingerboards brings father and son together

First introduced in the 1990s, fingerboards are making a comeback

A local dad and his son have rolled out a unique business venture, which successfully binds sports and creativity.

Bottom Up Fingerboards sell custom wooden decks, trucks and wheels for miniature skateboards called fingerboards. These boards are used by people who are into fingerboarding, an activity in which players execute skateboard tricks using their fingers.

The business is run by father-and-son duo, Keith and Caillen Sheppard. Started in Toronto, Bottom Up Fingerboards is now in Fergus, where Keith currently lives.

"We are one of many, many people supplying this kind of product," said Keith, who handles the production side of the business. "When we started, we were probably one of the few, if not, the only ones in Toronto at the time."

After two years of the pandemic, Caillen is hoping to introduce Bottom Up Fingerboards to the community.

"I haven't really seen any fingerboard companies or anything big like in the skateboarding community in Fergus, so far, so I feel like that would be a good first introduction to things," said Caillen. "Maybe that people could pick up and have ideas of their own and start companies on their own and experience what it is all about."

Introduced in the '90s, fingerboards are making a comeback with supporters located in Germany, Singapore, the United States and other countries.

Keith estimates the age range for fingerboard enthusiasts tend to be men ages of 18-35, many who get back into the sport after playing with fingerboards as a kid.

"For those who aren't involved with it, probably have no idea how big it really is," said Keith. "It's kind of a global sport, because they don't like to call them toys.

"For some people, they are skaters who fingerboard as well, it's kind of an off-shoot of that, and then there are those who don't skateboard, who only fingerboard, who live vicariously through finger boarding."

"It's a good way to still be connected to the culture and a good hobby to have that you can embrace everything that's going on," adds Caillen.

As part of emulating the sport, Keith said supporters like to customize their fingerboards, which doesn't come cheap.

"They want the decks to chip and scratch like real skateboards," said Keith, adding some parts for a fingerboard can cost upwards of $100.

The idea to start the business came from Caillen, who fingerboards and is a skateboarder. After creating a fingerboard club in school, Caillen approached his dad at the age of 10 to ask about starting the business together. Almost five years later, Keith and Caillen have visited numerous skate parks and best trick competitions. 

"First I started making them by myself, with the assistance from my Dad," said Caillen, who handles marketing. "Then for Christmas, he got a bunch of veneer and he got a bunch of trucks and wheels, and it just grew from there."

"It was an opportunity to keep bonding all the time, and stay relevant, stay current," said Keith, "Ultimately, for me as an artist, it was an opportunity to teach him some skills, but if nothing else, give him an understanding and comprehension of business and what it takes to see an idea from beginning to end."

Not looking to compete with large companies, Keith said Bottom Up Fingerboards went in a different direction, producing different series of collectible fingerboards for a loyal group of customers. 

As an artist, Keith creates the designs and produces the decks by hand using a mould and veneer. Decks can take 90 minutes to make, while designs can take between two to five hours.

"For me, it was that opportunity to see an idea from beginning to the end," said Keith, who has designed mascots, costumes and props in the past. 

Keith adds inspiration for the designs often come from pop culture, like Star Wars. In one series of custom decks, Keith photographed his childhood action figures, put them on the board and replicated the vintage packaging seen in the '70s and '80s.

"I had Vader (Darth Vader), Stormtropper and Boba Fett, and I offered only 10 of each, so people buy to collect it and to save it, they're not skating them, most are not opening the packages."

In other designs, Keith combines brands and skateboard culture. Keith said he has created a McDonalds themed fingerboard deck called 'Slappy Meal.'

"He's had a lot of great ideas and I really like his ideas, he's got that older, pop culture (ideas). KFC, BlockBuster and that kind of thing," said Caillen. "He's a really talented artist."

Reflecting on their business journey, Caillen adds the past five years have flown by and their first decks look like nothing they are making today. 

"I feel like it's brought up a bunch of creativity for me and him, and I don't know, it's been awesome," he said.

"I'd like to see some other people, inspire some other people, to make something out of their interests, do something that they enjoy."

To learn more about Bottom Up Fingerboards, go to