YOU’VE SEEN THE STICKERS AND SHIRTS, BUT DO YOU KNOW JETTY’S STORY?
Jetty (jettylife.com) began with an idea among friends on a 2001 trip: “Let’s start a surf brand” that’s all about “supporting athletes, motivating the next-generation, and spreading positive energy.” Five original founders put that idea into action: they picked the name, Jetty, designed a logo, created a business plan, and set out to break into the surf apparel industry. As a group, they decided to build and live The Jetty Life, which meant a chance to work for themselves, create opportunities, and facilitate travel while pursuing their passions. What they created, ultimately, is a lifestyle apparel brand built on core values that truly guide the way they do business – and also do good.
Back in 2003, the inaugural Jetty crew started printing t-shirts in a one-car garage. There were only three designs. The inventory was managed by one founding member, on plastic shelving in his bedroom. Eventually the brand grew enough to necessitate renting a warehouse space, and with the new space came better equipment. Jetty’s quest to make the most comfortable, well-designed gear led their growing team to rapidly master the art and enterprise of screen printing. When printers could not meet their standards, Jetty figured out their own eco-friendly, water-based ink system – a process that other companies now pay for as part of Jetty’s screen-printing services.
Jetty designs and produces four clothing lines, offering everything from T-shirts, tank tops, and sweatshirts, to pants, board/walk/hybrid shorts, and accessories like headwear and socks. They initially sold merchandise via local LBI retailers like Farias Surf and Sport and The Surf Shack, then later Surf Unlimited, with their extended surfing network bringing access to generous shelf space on LBI. Today, Jetty’s gear can be found in 100+ retail locations in every state on the Atlantic seaboard.
WHO’S IN THE LINE-UP?
Original Jetty co-founders and friends, Jeremy DeFilippis and Cory Higgins, met in 7th grade, when Southern Regional School District brought the mainlander and islander together. They remained friends through high school and while Jeremy studied Finance at the University of Delaware and Cory studied Communications at Rowan University. Now, although the other members of the founding five have left the company, these two friends continue to lead, along with significant new partners who came on board in 2009: Paul, Craig, and John (son of Craig) Clifford, lifelong LBI surfers with Beach Haven roots. Paul met Jeremy at Tuckers and Kubel’s Too, where Jeremy was tending bar. As board-level partners in the enterprise, Paul and Craig offered to invest in The Jetty Life – specifically, Jetty Life LLC. John, meanwhile, had recently graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in design, so took the role of Jetty’s Creative Director as the third, operating partner alongside Jeremy and Cory. As they describe it on jettylife.com, the Jetty crew “design and print our own apparel, find ways to innovate, learn from our mistakes, sweat, surf, skate, dance, party, and listen to a lot of music.”
IT’S ALL GOOD
What Jetty has come to stand for, as a brand, is something intrinsically good, something that goes beyond benefitting just a few to making a difference for many. In fact, one of the best compliments that Jeremy and Cory recall receiving was from a friend who said, “When I put on a Jetty shirt, I feel like I’m doing something good!” Jetties can be found around the world, stabilizing shifting seafronts while also proffering favorite surf spots. Like those place-changing structures, the Jetty brand supports its community, and others, and acts on core company values in a range of ways to benefit people and the environment.
The company’s unique ability to pursue community efforts, build fan engagement, and create well-designed gear may be best exemplified by the Annual Jetty Clam Jam, which completed its eighth event in fall 2014. This biggest of LBI surf contests brings together the surf, business, and non-profit community to celebrate competitive surfing and surf culture on LBI’s beaches. A companion event, the all-female Jetty Coquina Jam, serves as a fundraiser to benefit David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation (DDBCF). Since 2009, the Jetty Coquina Jam has produced over $32,000 in donations for cancer patients through DDBCF.
Jetty’s efforts to benefit LBI and the surrounding region don’t stop at surfing competitions. When Super Storm Sandy ravaged homes throughout the area, Cory, John, and Jeremy had already started discussing a relief effort. With their Little Egg Harbor manufacturing and office location safe from flooding, they instantly activated. They designed the “Unite + Rebuild” t-shirt and began pre-selling them on Jettylife.com. In the weeks and months that followed, the Jetty team rallied volunteers, filled up food banks and shelters, got families and businesses back to their feet, ran fundraising events and clean-ups, and worked with Waves for Water, an international organization that stepped in to provide support and expertise on mobilizing during the crisis. The documentary film LANDFALL: The Eyes of Sandy offers a moving vision of this time for Jetty and many throughout the community.
As of summer 2014, two and a half years after the historic storm, Jetty had donated in excess of $340,000 for Sandy relief. They also formed the Jetty Rock Foundation, the 501(C)3 nonprofit arm of the brand. In 2014, Jetty ran their first Hop Sauce Festival, a gathering of craft beer and spice enthusiasts that raised over $20,000 for their nascent Foundation. Jetty and its Foundation plan on growing the Hop Sauce Festival, which may become their major fundraiser. As of fall 2014, the Foundation had donated in excess of $107,000 in Sandy relief, for dune replenishment, and to youth and culture initiatives. For example, among other major gifts, the Jetty Rock Foundation donated 50 iPads and Jetty Tech Labs for a total donation of over $25,000 in technology to the three LBI schools for the academic year starting September, 2014.
The future is bright. The company is hoping to move to a new space on Route 9 in Manahawkin, across from Cory and Jeremy’s alma mater, Southern Regional High School. The move will, among other things, enable the company to build its self-curated events, which have helped grow the brand and establish Jetty as a key presence on LBI, in Stafford Township and Southern Ocean County, and beyond. Jetty plans to continue its penetration into the surf market and was recently recognized as one of the top emerging brands by the Surf Industry Manufacturer’s Association. Besides growing through events, community outreach, and merchandise sales regionally and on the East Coast, they will take the brand to the West Coast and overseas. Look out for Jetty – now, when you see the brand on a sticker or gear, you can imagine this awesome collective of people, working to do something new, different, and better for people, surfing, beaches, good times, music, and more.