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Mavericks CEO on new apparel line

By Shelby Stanger
October 28, 2009 7:21 AM

With the annual Mavericks Surf Contest holding period starting November 1, we thought it was a good time post our interview with Keir Beadling, CEO of Mavericks Surf Ventures, Inc., about the company's new apparel line.

The line launched at Surf Expo this past August. We asked Keir about the line, who it's targeting, and how they plan to stand out in the surf industry.

There is some controversy surrounding Mavericks this year after the departure of long-time Mavericks contest director Jeff Clark. Click here to read about that.

We do ask Keir about Jeff's departure, but mainly focus on Mavericks' business strategy for the apparel line.

Here is our Q & A with Keir:

When did you start the Mavericks the brand?

Keir Beadling We created Mavericks the company in late 2003. We've built a really robust, year-round marketing program driving our brand, capped by The Mavericks Surf Contest®-our crown jewel-but also including our annual Mavericks Live TourTM concert series, our website, our annual contest highlights TV show and DVD release, and a few more goodies we have up our sleeves.

(Right: Keir Beadling)

Can you give us a brief description of the line?

We are working with some very talented designers, led by Chris Silverman, our apparel director. In looking for inspiration to create the new collection, Chris looked no further than the 24 competitors themselves. He conjured up a line that the Mavericks guys could wear from the minute they woke up to charge Mavericks, to going to work, to going out at night. These three "looks" ensure the guys are covered for anything they choose to do when they're not in the water.

What categories are you in?

We're showing men's and women's tees, hoodies, wovens, flannels, oxfords, jackets, boardies, pants and shorts, caps and beanies, and accessories such as sunglasses, messenger bags, and belts.

I expect that we'll be expanding into other apparel categories, but always with an eye towards what is real and true to Mavericks. And since the overall Mavericks brand has generated such global attention over the past several years, we are also exploring some interesting licensing opportunities across a variety of categories.

How does this line fit in with the surf industry? Who are you specifically targeting?

We want to make gear that the guys (and women) who surf Mavericks want and that they care about. Simple as that. And since the natural environment is such an integral part of our brand, we are doing some interesting things on that front.

For example, we offer a tee made from eight recycled plastic bottles, a hoodie made of denim scraps from Levi's and Quik, and a messenger bag manufactured with zero waste.

What does that mean specifically as far as trend, color, cut, demographic, categories?

Northern California surf and fashion are a bit different than in Southern California, and Mavericks epitomizes that. The Mavericks crew tells us they do not want or like things that might seem overly-branded or tricked out. Classic, clean, timeless styles are more what they prefer to wear. And they have a strong affinity for the ocean proper, which is probably a bit different from a beach lifestyle. That informs our decisions on everything from what products we make to what charitable organizations we support, such as Save the Waves Coalition.

Are you in any shops yet? Which ones?

Abe Paskowitz, a scion of the Paskowitz family, runs our sales efforts. Given our core emphasis, we felt it critical to first open up accounts owned by the guys who actually surf at Mavericks. So Shawn Rhodes' NorCal Surf Shop and Peter Mel's Freeline Surf Shop were a couple of our initial, flagship accounts.

Two newer accounts of ours include WestSide in Florida (the oldest surf shop in Florida) and Blonde Johns in the Gulf Shores of Alabama. We remain focused on opening up key, core accounts like these in every city and town. At this point, though, we're probably in about 30 shops, and that number grows daily.

What is your designer's background? What's your background?

Chris Silverman's first job was working at a surf/skate shop back in 1986. Since then he was a partner in X-Large, the clothing company founded with the Beastie Boys. He designed for other small companies as well as holding senior positions with larger brands such as Old Navy and Levi's.

Virtually everyone involved with the company "gets" the outdoor lifestyle and is as active as they can be given the demands of a growing business.

I grew up on the east coast and first surfed 15 years ago on a really cold morning with some friends several hours north of Seattle.

Many of our investors and advisors share this type of active lifestyle, and when you combine that with deep experience in growing brands such as The North Face, Gap, REI, and Patagonia that they bring to the table, well, it's pretty much magic.

From a more nuts and bolts perspective, I have run Mavericks Surf Ventures since its founding in 2003.

How are you financing the brand?

We have financed the brand primarily by raising an ongoing Series A round of outside capital from angel investors. We have been very fortunate to attract investors and advisors with years of valuable experience, for example, building apparel and entertainment brands and helping them grow.

I read that at one point Jeff Clark (credited as being the first guy to surf Maverick's) was involved and now he is not. Can you clarify his involvement?

Jeff is no longer our contest director, though he remains a major shareholder. This year we'll break new ground, as the 24 competitors will literally vote on the day we hold our contest. It's all part of democratizing the wave. As we like to say, Mavericks has been around for tens of thousands of years, it belongs to everyone, and in some ways it feels like we're just passing through.

In the meantime, the Mavericks team will continue to spread the positive message of this unique phenomenon.

What's your main goal with the brand and where do you hope to see it in the next few years?

I think the Mavericks brand has almost unlimited potential. Every day, we see and hear how Mavericks inspires people everywhere. It's incredibly humbling when people tell us they were able to cope with the loss of a loved one by thinking about Mavericks, they named their child "Maverick," or even tattooed our logo on their ankle.

As long as we stay focused on our core values and continue to celebrate the Mavericks phenomenon in an authentic way, I think we can grow the brand and the apparel line to compete with the big boys (and girls).

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