Seager Co. originated just over a year ago. It is the combination of the grit and ruggedness of the American West with the simplicity of Southern California surf culture. The company is dedicated to creating quality products that will promote The West, as it once was. Mattson Smith, Co-Founder of Seager Co., talks about how it all began and where Seager Co. is headed.
ZIELEY: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur in the apparel industry?
MATTSON SMITH (MS): Ever since I was young, I was enamored with the surf apparel industry. It's such a crazy, innovative and niche society that I always kept up with which company was doing what. As I got older, I realized that I wasn't a skilled enough surfer to get sponsored so I had to find another way to get involved with this industry. My interests have not changed much and I am so excited to be involved in the surf industry and hopefully expand into the outdoor scene.
Z: How did Seager Co. originate?
MS: It was my sophomore year in college and I had just moved down by the beach with some of the UCSD volleyball team. I noticed that one of my new roommates, Elliott Shaw, was just as enthralled in Western movies, classic country music, surfing and the overall surf culture as I was. We would talk for hours about how we wished that someone would push the values of Old Western movies but with a classic surf culture twist. Some companies came close; Brixton and Filson were the best best, but didn't fully encompass what we imagined would be a great Western Surf brand. We wanted to design our own clothing in order to represent that Western surf vibe. At the time, it seemed like a far off dream, but one day Elliott looked at me and said "Let's just make our own company." Enthusiastically, I agreed! I wasn't fully sold on how serious Elliott was until the next day. I arrived back from school and he greeted me at the door, showing me that he had spent the whole day working on potential brand names and tee designs. From that day, we've worked nonstop to get the dream of Seager Co. off the ground. We then met with Case Anderson, a good friend with similar interests, and Calvin Muusse, our incredible artistic director, who both helped launch Seager into what it is now.
Z: Where did the name Seager Co. come from?
MS: Elliott and I worked for two years to come up with a relative and unique name. It's incredibly hard to lock down a company name that has not already been used. We wanted to make sure that we were exclusive in our branding and that there would be no similar names in the industry. We studied abroad together in the Czech Republic where we had a lot of time to think about a brand name...Eventually, the name came from what we believe helped encompass the brand, with a combination of phonetic sounds (the grungy sound of "gur") mixed with the dictation of the work "Sea," together Sea-Gur. We felt that those two words put together would help describe our brand without even knowing who we were. This led to the name Seager Co. It also helps that American folk and banjo-picking legend Pete Seger shares the name.
Z: What do you think makes Seager stand out compared to other apparel brands?
MS: Seager is the only apparel brand that celebrates both the cowboy adventure lifestyle, as well as the surf culture. We have a group of incredibly skilled surfers, as well as like-minded adventurers that help represent our brand and push our vision. To top it off, we have the unbelievably trained videographers to capture it all.
Z: How did you guys come up with the idea of branding yourself as "Grit Company?"
MS: The word Grit is synonymous with gutsy and spirited cowboy. Grit also describes surfers who charge large waves with courage and resolve. Grit Company just perfectly portrayed the message that we wanted to push with Seager Co. The idea of being a strong, but modest man or woman in the modern world is a really important ideal to us. Strength in Character - Grit.
Z: What are Seager Co.'s key goals?
MS: We want to expand into producing outdoor/tech products including sleeping bags, tents, and innovative camping gear. We do not want to be a one-dimensional brand; we want to be available to many consumers, no matter what their outdoor interests are, and with that, we hope to stay relevant. And a maybe more even important goal is to be able to push the idea of the Western man/woman. In this fast modern world, we hope to slow things down and popularize the gentlemanly ways that we believe Seager promotes.
Z: How have you raised awareness for Seager in the past year?
MS: We have prided ourselves on the forms of media that we release. When it comes to making Seager films, we put a lot of time and energy into making sure that the film is very well made so that when we release it, it produces a lot of online shares leading to unique and new viewers. Also, who doesn't love Instagram?? Free marketing. Can't beat that!
Z: How did you guys come up with the idea of shooting videos to promote the brand?
MS: It is an easy decision to shoot videos because of our artistic director Calvin. Before we brought him on board, he was a professional freelance photographer who had shot a number of amazing videos. The fact that we have him as a co-founder is incredible because we get in-house professional grade films. Now, we figure that Seager goes hand-in-and with well made videos and that's a huge part of our promotions.
Z: How do you pick a location to shoot a video or look book at?
MS: The location depends on what we are trying to promote. The best part is that we are all constantly traveling and finding new and exotic places to shoot. The most fun part is picking and traveling to a location, because when we shoot we are just having fun with friends; there just happens to be a couple cameras around.
Z: Do you guys shoot all the photos and videos yourself?
MS: Yes we do. However, we get some help from awesome friends every time we go shoot, simply because they like to travel and shoot with us.
Z: Can you describe the process that you guys go through for creating a video?
MS: I leave all of that magic in the hands of Calvin and his film friends!
Z: Seager Co. recently had its one year anniversary. How has Seager grown in the past year?
MS: We are exponentially growing! It's been an incredible year and I cannot wait to see where it goes from here.
Z: What do you think has been key to Seager Co.'s success?
MS: Seager gained most of its momentum from our friends in the surf industry. We owe a lot of thanks to Thalia Surf Shop and Mitch's Surf Shop for stocking their shelves with our products before we had any momentum at all. Their trust in us helped us become legitimate to many new buyers. We also owe thanks to the many photographers, surfers, skaters, and adventurers that have reached out to us to help grow our brand in any way they could. I am proud of the content we have already produced and it is all thanks to them. Lastly, we owe thanks to all of our family and close friends who have been incredibly supportive; they have worn our stuff and shared our content more than anyone else and we owe our success to them!
Z: What's next on the horizon for Seager Co.?
MS: We are excited to work on making new and innovative products and also, new Western/surf films that will be premiered within the next few months.
Z: What is your favorite Seager Co. product?
MS: My favorite Seager Co. product will be released in our fall/winter line. It's an amazing corduroy hat that we've been working on called the "Banquet Hat." Keep an eye out for it!
Z: Can you tell us your favorite memory from being a part of Seager?
MS: It's only been 11 months since we first launched and there are already tons of amazing memories. Being a tangible brand that can throw parties at St. Archer Brewery and Thalia Surf Shop is a huge thing for me and I'm so stoked on those memories! But I think the #1 memory was from a filming trip for our first launch video. We had a week until our launch party and we promised everyone a video! So, we drove out to Mammoth (a seven hour drive) the weekend before our party. We had to get weeks worth of filming in one day. The thing was that we got there at 10 pm the night before and had to set up camp in the dark. We woke up at 6 am the next day because we only had that full day to shoot an entire video. The rush of going from one location to the next was amazing. We were basically forced to have about as much fun as we could in a single day, in order to get the right shots. Everyone had a blast and then we drove home the next morning. About as quick of a trip as we could get, the fun was jam-packed and it's all recorded it the launch video.
Z: Who are your career role models?
MS: My dad and my grandpa. My dad is a very respectable entrepreneur that I admire very much. He's incredibly intelligent and has started many businesses that have succeeded and I think my entrepreneur spirit comes solely from my admiration in him. My grandpa is very similar, an incredibly intelligent and wise man. The type of guy I want to be when I grow old. There are other career role models in the surf industry like Dare Jennings (founder of Deus) and Mike Lesher (co-founder of Quiksilver, Billabong and Hurley). They are very successful and I look up to their accomplishments but I don't think that they compare to my admiration for my family.
Z: What is your favorite part about being part of the Seager team?
MS: I love that I am living my dream. It's insane to me that Seager is alive and well. I love who I work with, my best buds, and I love the amazing adventures that we go on.
To keep up with Seager Co.'s adventures, check out their Facebook, Vimeo, and Instagram: @seagerco. And don't forget to check out their website seagerco.com!
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