Our second interview here at SkinnySkiff, we bring you a few words with the man behind the flats fishing lifestyle brand you know and love: Skinny Water Culture. Vince Stegura started SWC in 2007 with a few friends, and it has grown to where it is today…on the back of almost every legit saltwater flats fisherman out there (and a few carp chasers too).
As always, the bolded sentences are us and the non-bolded responses are Vince from SWC. Without further adieu…
Give us a run down of the SWC style. What kind of emotion and lifestyle do you see the SWC brand portraying?
We basically want to make clothes that reflect our lifestyle. We don’t really look elsewhere for influence. We strive to be original and make clothing with the DNA of fishermen.
From SWC’s history it seems 2009 was a big take-off year. What was the event that really set it off?
Our 1st Boat show. The Frank Seargent Outdoors Expo, as well as our 1st annual Tarpon Season kickoff
What was the teams reaction when the brand of SWC really took off after 2009 and did it change the way you did business?
We were just stoked that what we were doing was well received by the people we wanted to like it. the only things that change the way we do business are the things we learn. We always try to get better at everything we do.
Do you feel that with SWC’s growth and popularity to over 10,000 Likes on Facebook, it has helped spread the word about ‘skinny water fishing culture’? How do you think SWC’s presence has effected the lifestyle of backcountry, flats, and shallow water fishing?
We do feel like we are having an influence. We get emails almost every week that say we got the person writing the email into fly fishing. We aren’t necessarily a fly fishing company, but that’s what we mostly do, so that’s what we put out. It is really cool when you get an opprotunity to show people what you love, and they embrace it.
The logo – the iconic boxed redfish tail – I can see how the redfish itself is a skinny water icon across many of the Southeastern flats, but what lead you guys go with the common redfish over it’s more frustrating prized buddies the bonefish, permit, or poon?
The Redfish is a much more accessable species. It’s a fish that we feel more people target than any other inshore saltwater species. The reason we chose it as an incorporation to our logo, is because it’s what we target the most because of our location.
How did the concept go from making cool gear to wear for yourselves and friends, to today’s fully blown apparel company?
We are still actually a long ways away from being a full blown apparel company. We actually still feel like we are making clothes for our friends, but we have a lot more friends. We feel that we will always be that way.
Designs like the ‘F*CK BP’ shirt and some of the one-offs that people keep asking for again on Facebook were great ways to get in touch with the community and the SWC brand- and give a few jabs. Are those just spontaneous colorways and designs or do you plan to do something with them in the future?
Our designs come from our feelings. With the F*ck BP shirt, we felt that way at the time. We actually donated all of the proceeds and then some to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. Even though we werent making any money yet, we just wanted to do something to help. We pretty much always plan on doing limited runs of designs.
Speaking of designs, Chase is a great artist and has put out some great designs for you guys. How do you guys work together to come up with all of the current SWC designs?
Chase comes up with most of them on his own. He’s a genius. Sometimes I give him a crappy idea that would be impossible to make a design from, and he will send over a masterpiece a few hours later.
There has been a growing trend of Florida based companies that seem to have designs similar to some of your past designs. Do you guys feel like you have to do anything special to stay ahead of the competition?
We don’t really worry about the other guys too much. We feel like we make what we want. Take the Florida Skiff shirts for example. When we made the 1st one in 2009 there were literally no companies in fishing that would put the state of Florida on a shirt. It was already overdone with all the cheesy tourist shops. We found a way to give our state something that wasn’t cheesy, and represented fisherman. If there were other companies doing that they were more in the surf industry. Like O’Neil. Now every company had at least one design with the state of Florida, if not more. We know that they wouldn’t be doing that unless they liked what we did.
We really look at this completely different than any other companies that we know of. Almost every company in fishing has the attitude of, “for fisherman, by fisherman” or, “saltwater is in our blood.” “It’s not what we do, but who we are.” That mentality doesn’t really represent us. We have more of a, “we fish because its fun” mentality. I mean, that’s why we do it. Lets be honest, we aren’t doing it for work, because that takes the fun out of it. I know first hand because I’ve done it. It’s doesn’t mean that we don’t put off all responsibilities to fish, or come to work after not sleeping because we fished all night, but we do it because its fun. Not to prove to everyone that we are serious about it. We are serious about making killer clothes on the other hand. That’s something we don’t take lightly.
Currently the product line consists of mostly ‘on the body’ products like microfibers, masks, hats, etc. Can you tell is if you will be expanding into any other product categories we can get excited about?
Chase is designing a line management mat, and we have very large visions for our clothing. That’s all I can say right now.
Any other cool products or new releases coming up in 2013 you can tell us about?
Our new version of the Stalker Masks are very well thought out and will be an emphasis in 2013. We will also have new tees, hats, and microfiber shirts. We are also designing some woven shirts, and hopefully some shorts this year. We also have Longboard Skateboards coming out in a few weeks.
What’s in the future for SWC as a company? Recently you’ve expanded into retail locations with some awesome displays and products…
The future of the company is to continue growing and making products that we believe will be embraced. We hope to expand the reach of retail stores, and do more shows around the country.
Thanks for getting with us for the interview. It’s been awesome seeing SWC grow in the last few years, you guys have definitely earned a spot in my closet/clothes pile. Anything you want to let the community know?
The only thing we can say is thanks to our current and future customers. We know we have had our issues with growth and inventory, but we are in this for the long haul, and not trying to make a quick buck. We really feel like there is a lot of work left to do and we want to do it the right way. We are willing to make the necessary sacrifices so that we can produce quality.