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O'Quinn: We are still in business

By Tiffany Montgomery
March 27, 2009 6:56 AM

I've been hearing that O'Quinn was having a very tough time, so I checked in with Dean Quinn to get an update on the brand. 

Like many companies these days, O'Quinn has had to make some tough expense cuts and other changes to its business, but Dean says the brand is alive and kicking and has a new partnership that will help it weather the recession.

O'Quinn is a young, premium surf brand that has had success in upscale surf shops, boutiques like Fred Segal and high-end department stores like Bloomingdale's.

Here's what Dean had to say:

There are rumors going around that O'Quinn is going out of business. Is that true?

No, those are just rumors! We are flattered to be talked about by so many of our competitors. Listen, it's hard for great companies like Quiksilver and small companies like us, too, right now. We just finished putting together a new partnership with a firm who will get us to the next level and beyond. We had to cut our overhead and make some tough decisions. First we had to let some people go and second we had to move into a smaller facility. It was very hard to do, but it had to be done. With our new partners and a reduced overhead we became a much stronger company.

O'Quinn t-shirtWho are your new partners?

Our new partners would like to remain nameless. However they do own a number of T-shirt factories in Central America.

How is the brand doing? How is business?

Business is very good for us. We are very fortunate to be in some of the best retailers in the country. The brand is gaining strength all over the country and international inquires are coming in all the time.

How is the recession impacting your business?

It's made us smarter and adapt to the credit problems that are going on right now. Having a new partner who gives us credit stability is the key. When you're a new, small company with very little assets, the factors and vendors only give you a small line of credit. If you want to take a big order and you're only factored for a portion of it, it can hurt your cash flow.

What accounts is O'Quinn in these days? Is there a certain kind of store that really works well for the brand?

You have to be in the right accounts more then ever right now. We are so lucky to have retail partners who want to work together and find ways to grow a brand and be profitable for them. We've been fortunate to be one of the new brands that is retailing in the top 10 in some key categories.

What are those categories?

T-shirts and boardshorts.

O'Quinn had premium pricing when it started. Have those price points evolved? How are you handling pricing these days?

O'Quinn has been from the start about offering premium quality and designs to the market. What has changed is our price points. With our new partners owning T-shirt factories, we are now more vertical. We decided to give those savings to the retailer instead of us and give them amazing IMUs in these tough times.

Are you looking for more investment or does the company have the financial resources it needs?

We have all the financial support to take O'Quinn as big as we want to grow it. We do, however, have debt like any other small company in these times that we need to pay down. We'd like to thank all the vendors and retailers who have stuck by us in the last two years through the tough times.

Are there any categories/styles that are "home runs" with retailers for fall?

For fall, we offered retailers a premium T-shirt program with great wholesale pricing. With being vertical in printables this allows us to give the retailer quick turn product - new designs every 60 days delivered no longer then two weeks from taking the order.

With retailers not knowing what's going to happen 120 days or even 30 days from now, we can get them product they need in a very short time. This program has been very successful for fall. Our boardshort category has been very strong from the beginning. We will expand this category as well in 2009.

How are retailers handling orders - are they booking ahead or doing more in season ordering?

Prebooks in smaller seasons are tough. That's why we have the quick turn program. We have had very few cancellations so far.

How do you think the rest of the year will play out for O'Quinn?

Dale (Rhodes) and I could not be happier with where we are right now. The future has never looked brighter for us. It's been very tough and my hats off to all those other brands small and large trying to survive these challenging times. But this is an industry that was built by people who take chances everyday in the things they are passionate about.


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