Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
Surfing is dominated by huge brands like Hurley and Billabong, so we design boardshorts made for the kind of surfer who goes out in the morning before they have to go to their regular job. We partner with known and underground artists, bands, or come up with our own designs for fresh looks.
Boardshorts are produced in China but our apparel is all sourced locally in Honolulu by Lanakila Custom Products, an amazing place that employs adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them jobs, confidence and income. It costs quite a bit more than sourcing elsewhere, but we believe in the cause and are proud to work with them.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Word of mouth! We gave out a lot of shorts to guys at first to get people to try them out and they loved them! The surf community is small and we've had some great grassroots marketing to get word out. In terms of traffic and sales, wholesale to surf shops in Hawaii is number one. However, our online business is still critical to show the products in the way WE want and for profitability.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Using apps like Lettuce and QuickBooks Online have been amazing in simplifying the accounting, inventory and shipping. We also use apps to offer a deal for buying multiple products or all the products from a collection. We're still small and growing so being able to dynamically offer products based on recommendations we setup on the back-end is really helpful. We ship everything ourselves from Hawaii. That's why fast and simple shipping software and stamps.com integration is so important.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Get the word out quick! Build even a small base of loyal fans who can help be your case study, make testimonials, review products and get word out. These folks will help you build a grassroots following and organically grow your business without having to go nuts with marketing budgets.