“We built the brand on credit cards from a garage in Laguna Beach to the point where it’s now at,” says Price. “From a market-position standpoint, it’s perfectly poised to go to the next level and we believe a heavyweight partner is the best way to get there.”
Price says he’s confident the Tavarua sportswear line will find a new home, and negotiations with interested parties are ongoing. At this point, it’s unclear how such a deal would affect the Tavarua Surf Resort, located off the coast of Fiji.
Price says the brand still has great potential. “I think the way the market is right now, the brand can miss holiday delivery and it won’t be the end of the world,” he says. “Even if we miss our early spring shipment, if we’re back in the market full force — with ads running in every publication at the end of this year and delivery of late spring, early summer product — it would be okay.”
Price says that along with industry friends, he has already helped to find new jobs for half of the Tavarua Surf Co. staff affected by the restructuring — employees in roles not directly related to product design, marketing,or sales.
“While a well financed company, supported by sourcing and financial infrastructure, will take us to the next level, I’m going to miss the intimate, special vibe we had as a small brand dedicated to surf,” he says. “Operationally, we’re not sitting on any inventory or accounts payable/liability time bombs, so it’s going to be a clean transition.”
So how could a brand that’s shown consistent growth from the day it launched find itself in absolute need of a financial partner? “The surf industry has become very sophisticated in last few years — as well it should,” explains Price. “The threshold of marketing investment that’s required to be noticed at both a trade and consumer level is high.
“The simplest analogy is this,” continues Price. “In the early 80s you could throw a 25-dollar foam-core sign into a store and you had an in-store program. Now you need build-outs, window treatments, product for shop employees — on top of ad campaigns that have the reach and frequency to be effective.”
Price says the additional funding is needed to boost the brand’s marketing efforts.
“In our case,” he says, “taking the brand to the next level never involved the financing in the area of cost of goods. We’ve always maintained excellent relationships with our vendors and they have always supported our growth. Instead, it’s all about creating enough buzz in the market to get a 3.5-million-dollar company to ten-million-dollars within a reasonable time frame. If necessary, it’s the ability to lose 200,000 dollars one year, in order to ramp up the following year and make it back three fold. Tavarua has never had that luxury.”
According to Price, “Tavarua Clothing company will maintain its core infrastructure, and will continue with product development and servicing the needs of its international business. In the interim, our salaried teamriders will be supported through the brand’s international operations”
TransWorld SURF Business will update this story as it develops.