(All surf photos are Ocean Minded ambassador Daniel Jones; photos by Peathead)
PEATHEAD: What makes Ocean Minded a "green" company?
BOB TANNER: As I've stated before in the media, I actually go out of my way to let people know we are NOT a 'green company', and encourage our employees to do the same, since we are far from it and aren't about to 'claim it' - it never even crosses our mind. First and foremost, we are a footwear, apparel and accessories company. We like to think of ourselves as 'capitalists with a conscience' because we do try our best to incorporate recycled and sustainable materials into our products whenever possible and we back up these initiatives with a well-established environmental clean–up program, that was born with the brand in 1996 on the beaches of San Clemente, CA.
One of the key points of differentiation for Ocean Minded, in a very crowded marketplace, is our use of Croslite™ material in the footbeds of our closed-toe shoes for both men and women. Croslite™ material is a proprietary, revolutionary technology that gives each pair of shoes the soft, comfortable, lightweight and odor-resistant qualities that our customers have come to know us for. Our sandals are known for being durable, 'on design', and for NOT having a 'break-in' period, which provides instant comfort and support. Our unique Waveseeker slip-on shoe collection for men and women features a minimally stitched upper made from quick-drying, water-friendly, stretchy polyester that acts like 'boardshorts for your feet'.
We've spent quite a bit of time getting our Brand Ambassador program to where it is now, and I think the common thread that runs through all of them is that they are all personally vested in the ocean, and aren't just putting one of our team stickers on their board – they've all chosen to take an 'ownership' position, as it relates to their chosen playground. While there's no 'official' guideline, we know none of our Ambassadors are afraid to get their hands dirty at a beach clean-up and it's a safe bet that if they are getting out of the water and see a piece of trash, they're going to be the one who bends down to pick it up – it's who they are as human beings and it's why they are a good match for our brand. Within our industry, I think Ocean Minded is somewhat unique in that we're less concerned with how well someone 'performs' at his/her specific discipline than we are with what they're doing to fully embrace our 'Be Ocean Minded' philosophy, which is the foundation of our company. A great example is one of the kids we flow product to in Florida – 12 year old Avery Aydelotte. She recently went out on her own and raised almost $3,000 for the SIMA Humanitarian Fund, during their 'Stokes Me – Surfers Helping Humans' initiative. I told Avery and her parents that doing things like that is MUCH more meaningful to us than going out and winning a surf contest (which she also does on a regular basis!).
Tell us about OM's partnership with the Surfrider Foundation.
It's a very informal partnership in that we publicly support their organization at the local, national, and international level, and try to help out as much as we can. For our beach clean-up efforts and support of projects like the 'Save Trestles' campaign, we've earned their endorsement. They are also headquartered here in San Clemente, and before we moved into our new building a few years ago, we were actually neighbors and it allowed us to start personal relationships with their staff. Their mission is the 'protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network' and we are proud to consider ourselves part of that network and think our biggest contribution comes in the form of our beach clean-ups. I do think it's important to also point out that we've partnered with other great organizations for beach and environmental cleanups, as well. The Conservation Alliance, Wildcoast, Pick Up 3 and H2O Trash Patrol are all examples of groups we've partnered with before and hope to continue to do so in the future.
What do you think lies in the future for OM?
Looking into my crystal ball, I see some VERY exciting future products coming from Ocean Minded. While it's too early for me to divulge specific details, I can tell you these are products that completely define who we are as a brand – from the design, fit, and of course the materialization. From concept to creation, these new products embody our mantra of 'Live. Protect. Respect.'. I think you will also see a continued commitment from our brand on doing our best to host or participate in as many clean-ups as possible. In 2012 we were involved in 25 environmental clean-ups that saw approximately 1,442 volunteers pick up and properly dispose of approximately 21,339 pounds of trash and we hope to exceed those numbers in 2013. Lastly, as our business expands globally, we think it's important for us to never forget the simple idea of 'Be Ocean Minded' is the foundation of our company and should be the basis for all of our actions.