Celebrate Small Business this Weekend!
Across America there are over 32 million small businesses that drive 64% of all new jobs. Big impact, but it happens because of you and your incredible support.
While “smalls” don’t have the buying power, leverage or deep resources the “larges” do, we do have grit, determination and a passion for doing it right.
There are 13 of us in our little company. We do all of our own design work, social media, handle each customer call and inquiry internally, vacuum the floors, and greet each customer at either the Key West store at Zero Duval Street, or at the Sunset Pier Surf Shack right around the corner on Sunset Pier, next to the Tiki Bar, and adjacent to Mallory Square.
We are somewhat of the “accidental” clothing company. None of us had prior experience in this industry. Whew…talk about an interesting/adventuresome/bold move. Or maybe it was more like a “what the hell were we thinking” move.
Our love of the outdoors, big beautiful, crystal clear waters and island life runs deep.
The question became…could we align that passion into a business. We “futzed” around with that for a while, to include a name. At that time, we did it mostly to give us a reason to go fishing and enjoy the laid back island lifestyle. Quite frankly, the vibe and “One Human Family” spirit of Key West is very inspiring.
At first everything we surfaced on naming sounded like a condo project, “Island Landing…et.al”. It was suggested to go with something completely different, so the Caribbean creole expression “Madda Fella” was born.
One thing for certain, we always own the entire page on search results. ;-)
Then took the incredible “toe in the water” move and designed a few tee’s, developed the logo for some private label fleeces, created a simple website and said “let’s see what happens”. You know the storyline…let’s not quit our day job type of situation.
First sales were to friends and family. You become glued to the monitor, watching site traffic like it’s SNL’s Weekend Update. Then, we get a random hit from California and boom, a fleece is sold.
Then a few others, then the “uh-oh”…”we’re gonna need a bigger product mix”. At that point, the boat is moving with the tide, relationships develop, supply chains established and the process starts a bit more intensely.
Early on we were guided to China for production. It is a major and affordable supplier for the clothing business. In 2020 we moved anything and everything we had going there out. Closed it down. That decision added to our cost basis, and may have been the most consequential decision we made. But, in our small way we had to feel right about what we were doing.
Now, everything is either made in Mauritius, Peru, India or suppliers here in the USA. Not everything goes smoothly, as you’d probably expect. But more good things happened, as well as getting smarter within this industry.
Along the way we’ve given back as best as we could. This included helping victims of hurricanes and recovery efforts, go-fund me programs for workers in the Keys impacted by the shut-downs, coral reef replenishments in the Keys, food banks during the pandemic, and support of families of active duty military that have experienced loss (taps.org).
To be in small business, well…it’s genuinely a lifestyle and you have to love what you do. We sometimes tease Maria, who runs the Surf Shack on Sunset Pier, that she has the best “office” of just about anyone in the world. (On the water, live music, tiki bar 30 feet away, and lots of people around simply enjoying themselves.)
Receiving your pics, notes and posting us is an absolute joy. We always send those around in-house. Keep them coming!!!
As we move through this period of giving thanks, and the trying period we’ve all navigated these past couple of years, simply put…Thank You.
We are grateful for the support of each customer, supplier and our partners at Noble House/Ocean Key Resort. As a small business, it genuinely takes an ecosystem of people to help you through...both in good times and through the rough stretches.
One more…. get yourself on down here!
We’ve got some sunshine waiting for you!!!!