Tide Surf Co. Comes In Full Swell

Kenyon Watson and Hannah Friel

You may have seen car stickers, phone stickers, or even t-shirts worn by many students around school promoting a new cutting edge trend here at Miramonte: Tide Surf Company. Started by seniors and twin brothers Peter and Patrick Swan, this company is hoping to take over Miramonte by full force.

During their junior year, Patrick thought of the idea of creating a clothing company because of their interests in the surf industry, surf culture, and men’s clothing.

“Peter and I are really into clothes and we like to dress nicely, but we are interested in clothes beyond just our wardrobes. We’ve always been interested in how companies start and develop their unique styles,” Patrick said. “When Peter and I saw particular clothes, we would think about ways to improve the product. That’s how I had the idea of starting our own company so we could design clothes the way we wanted to from the start.”

The two talked to their friends about the idea and received positive feedback, which in turn boosted their confidence regarding the plan. They then brought it up with their parents who thought it was a cool idea, but were skeptical whether it would actually take off.

However, their parents were willing to support the boys because they were not helping finance the project. The Swan brothers, along with other seniors Elliot Alper, Nick Coufal and Alex Sulyman, were willing to risk it and spend their own money on all the expenses, which include the printing press, plain shirts, website domains, and colored ink to print the designs.

“In order to spend the least amount of money, we had to start off printing shirts on our own with a printing press we bought, which ended up being cheaper than someone else printing for us,” Peter said. “Although it is a ton of manual labor, it’s cool to see people wearing something we actually made.”

While Peter designs the logos and graphics, and handles the majority of the designing aspects of the company, Patrick manages the business area of it: the sales, advertisement, the bank accounts, and meetings with other entrepreneurs. They give them advice based on what they’ve experienced and warn the boys about the uncertainties of the industry.

Sam Swan, Peter and Patrick’s father, has a friend, Chip Wasson, who owns a clothing company called UltraNectar. Wasson serves as a mentor for the boys and helps them navigate through the beginnings of their company. In return for Wasson’s help, Peter and Patrick work for him by doing sales, inventory, and designing new apparel. This allows the boys to get a good idea of how things work and meet people who they can make connections with for Tide.

“He told us to be cautious because it is a brutal industry and most people don’t succeed,” Patrick said. “A lot of the people I talk to warn me about what a tough industry it is but they all seem stoked about Tide. It really keeps Peter and I motivated when people that have done this before tell us we are on a good track.”

Among unreassuring words, Wasson gives the boys advice on the cheapest options that they can gain access to.  The boys researched how they plausibly could do it because investing could potentially cost thousands of dollars.

When they first purchased the printing press, they could all afford it with their own money so it was their personal loss if it didn’t work. In order to earn that money back, the boys started to print shirts for others outside of Tide because it was convenient to make money. Once all the money was made back, the Swans were able to have an outside company print the products for them. Whatever they sold for Tide was for profit after they made money selling for non-Tide companies.

The Swans were able to use their profit to place orders for crewnecks, sweatshirts, long sleeve tees, regular t-shirts, and pocket tees, which will be sold this month. With 300 new units of clothing, a website was created in order to make it easier for people to shop. The website will officially launch in November, and allow people to buy products directly.

Peter made the website with his skills he gained from a previous Web Design course. “Taking the class was super helpful. I think the site turned out really well, but we just needed to figure out images to make it more appealing,” Peter said.

Luckily, a photographer at Surfer Magazine, Seth Migdail, gave them permission to use his photos for free to enhance their website. Normally, for a company to use his photos, they would have to pay thousands of dollars. However, Migdail was intrigued by the Swans’ story and wanted to help the boys save as much money as possible.

The Swans also have access to a warehouse in Oakland where there are a bunch of fabrics the boys are allowed to mess around with and create design ideas. Peter and Patrick cut and sew fabric to make a prototype, if they like the sample, seamstresses who work in the warehouse perfect the product and replicate them.

The Swans are hopeful that social media will help launch their company and promote it to other audiences outside of Lamorinda. Within the next year, they plan to run a complete online business, with the only manual labor consisting of designing clothing, packing it up, and mailing it.

In order to make the company’s name more popular, the Swans have decided to use social media including: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and tumblr to create site traffic. You can follow them on  Twitter: @TideSurfCo, on Instagram: @tidesurfco or you can check out their website in November: tidesurf.com