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A glance into their display room is all it takes to understand their “look.”
Framed T-shirts hang from the walls, designed with palm trees and pineapples in vibrant summertime colors. Just by looking at them, you can almost feel the sand beneath your feet and the sun’s warmth on your back.
“Simply relaxed,” their slogan states, and that’s the essence of Island Supply LLC, the company’s founders say.
“Island Supply focuses on a simplistic and comfortable lifestyle,” agricultural communication sophomore and company co-founder Jimmy Reding explained. “We focus on strength as well as humbleness when it comes to deeper meanings.”
The relatively new and upcoming company, owned by partners Reding and graphic communication senior Evan LaForce, has made its way into the business world. It has expanded rapidly, begun to sell its products outside of California and generated investor interest.
Reding and LaForce are both Cal Poly students who adopted Learn by Doing in their everyday life by starting their company from the ground up. Reding mainly handles the business side, while LaForce is the artistic mind behind the designs.
LaForce started Island Supply eight years ago. Living in California all his life, he adopted the stereotypical laidback lifestyle often associated with the state, which he wanted to convey through his clothing.
“I’ve always been an artist, but I was really drawn to a specific kind of graphic that I think applies well to clothing,” LaForce said.
LaForce’s expertise lies with the arts. He is the brain behind all the designs, constantly sketching in the back of his notebook, coming up with new designs.
“Whenever I’m in class, unfortunately, I’m sketching when I should be taking notes,” LaForce said. “I’ll be in the back of my notebook drawing on the sketchpad I bring to class.”
LaForce and Reding met “through friends of friends of friends” as Reding describes it. They bonded over their mutual interest in volleyball and fitness. Soon after their friendship grew, Reding saw LaForce’s designs and thought they were promising.
“When I met Jimmy, he was the second half of the company I needed,” LaForce explained. “He was motivated and determined. He handles the business and marketing kind of stuff that I don’t really have any expertise for.”
Once Reding and LaForce found they made a good team, the process began. They started by pitching ideas and designs with each other as well as their other roommates, who are also involved in the business. They created blueprints for basic ideas and had test runs of their products.
They invested quite a bit of time to ensure the success of Island Supply by constantly wearing their clothes, handing out their product, talking to investors and getting their name out there. The next step was creating a website, which has proven to increase their sales.
“It’s not just us,” Reding said. “It’s our friends as well — everyone generating ideas and encouraging each other.”
In September, the company “re-invented” itself by becoming an LLC (limited liability company), meaning that if the company is ever involved in a lawsuit, the owners and members are mostly protected.
“It’s safe to say that we are moving very, very quickly, considering we were established in February and re-established a month ago with our website up and lots of projects being worked on,” Reding said.
Though Island Supply may give off a relaxed look typically associated with the California lifestyle, they are spreading to other states, including Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, New York and states in the northeastern area of the country. Friends in some of these places sell their products in an effort to eventually make Island Supply a nationally recognized brand.
“The quicker we generate investments and money, the faster we can reinvest into products,” Reding said. “The goal is to get a bigger voice so we can really get our name out there.”
They’ve already had sponsorship offers in the Bay Area. A rapper who goes by the name of “Pac B” showed interest in investing in the company, but Island Supply turned him down because, according to Reding, he wanted too much.
“He was expecting to buy his way into the company and make managing decisions,” Reding explained. “He just wasn’t the right guy for us.”
Island Supply continues to increase its sales and is looking to expand even further.
In the near future, Island Supply is hoping to reach out to students and local companies, including Thread Hub, a store on Chorro Street that sells local brand names as well as Central Coast Surfboards on Marsh Street. As for its product, it hopes to launch a fall collection of warmer clothing including long-sleeve shirts, light hoodies and socks.
Island Supply also already has plans to sell its shares in the New York Stock Exchange within the next couple of weeks.
As for the distant future, Island Supply wants to expand. One of the ways to achieve this is to hopefully sell some of its products at “The Buckle,” a clothing company with stores across the nation. It’s also planning on expanding its inventory to start making more sports-related products.
“It’s all about living the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of,” La Force said. “When you think of the word ‘island,’ it reflects a kind of getaway — being at the beach and always relaxing.”