Perhaps the worst thing that can happen to anyone is to be left up a smelly creek without a paddle. Today, thanks to the ingenuity if Alexa Cole and her company, Orka Paddles, no-one involved in water sports need fear this again. Orka manufactures epoxy paddles using, amongst other materials, carbon fibre and recycled cloth. Alexa points out that in addition, the business also provides a repair service for water crafts, as well as individual coaching to paddlers in the company’s immediate environment. Bringing to table her personal experience of more than 17 years as a paddler, racing both locally and internationally, Alexa has the kind of knowledge that can only be learned on the water itself. She says that she has been involved in the manufacturing of paddles for the last six years. As an active participant in the sport, she understands both the requirements and the demands of the market. Orka’s success is built on the quality of its product and its after-sales service. It is also about building and maintaining relationships, adds Alexa. She says that the company therefore helps its retailers with brand awareness by sponsoring top athletes who race internationally, thereby proving the performance of the Orka brand. Building on this, she says that looking ahead, she hopes to develop the business into a global brand, while at the same time capturing the lion’s share of the local paddle market.