Flylords: When did RepYourWater go from an idea to business?
Garrison: For the first few years (we started in 2011) RepYourWater was a fun side hobby for us. Corinne and I both had other full time jobs and so it was more of a passion project than anything else. However, a few years in we were starting to see the potential as we were struggling to keep up with demand. At that time I happened to get downsized out of a sales job that I did not love, and that provided the perfect kick in the pants to go full time at RepYourWater.
Flylords: What were some of the challenges of turning this dream into a full-time job?
Garrison: We have experienced many of the growth “pinch points” that most start ups encounter. Limited capital resources for growth was one, especially since we are self-funded and started right on the tail end of the recession when no one was jumping to offer loans to niche startups. Luckily, the fly fishing industry, especially back then, was pretty welcoming and accessible for a small brand.
Flylords: Was there ever a moment when you realized you made it as an actual business in the fly fishing space?
Garrison: The first time we went to the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, which was in Orlando at the time, was one of those moments for me. It felt sort of like the country kids taking their produce to the big city market for the first time. The industry and community welcomed us with open arms even though we were feeling in over our heads. We look forward to that show every year now.
Flylords: Your slogan is Fish, Explore, Conserve, can you tell us a little about what this means?
Garrison: We wanted a slogan that communicated our mission statement and what our brand is about as efficiently as possible. Our passion is fishing, one of the reasons for that being the exploration that pursuit inevitably leads to, and conservation has always been a cornerstone of our values, both as individuals and as a business.
Flylords: What conservation projects is Rep Your Water involved in for 2019? Anything on the horizon for 2020?
Garrison: Since we donate to 17 conservation partners, we do not position our conservation dollars towards a single large project, but instead contribute locally based off of our product sales to many different projects. However, on a local level, because we believe that being involved locally is really important, are proud to have helped raise a bunch money ($16,000+) for our local Trout Unlimited Chapter here in the Boulder area in Colorado over the past few years. This helped them undertake an extensive restoration project on a local creek that was just finished at the end of last year and is now filling in with happy trout!
We are also working hard to address conservation from the perspective of sustainability through our operations, products and supply chain. We offset 100% of our greenhouse gases from our warehouse and office and we also divert more than 95% of our waste from landfill both of which contribute to our certification as a Green Business in the town of Erie where we are located.
For products and supply chain, we have a series of Eco Twill hats coming out this fall that are made of recycled polyester and organic cotton blend fabric and we just updated all of our hat poly bags to be made from recycled plastic. Additionally, we are launching a line of Bio Cotton, ethically sourced flannels and a collection of recycled/up-cycled mid-weight hoodies! Lots in the works for 2020, but we can get into that later…
Flylords: What’s it like running a company with your significant other?
Garrison: It is an absolute blast, we love it. It is not for every couple, but it continues to be really fun for us. With my background in art, design and sales, and Corinne’s strengths in logistics, accounting and organization, we have each taken on very different roles within RepYourWater and I think that is key to our success. The shared passion for fishing is the icing on the cake.
Flylords: Can you tell us about your artwork. When did it start? And when did it merge with the apparel?
Garrison: My parents are both artists, so I grew up around art and making art. When we started RepYourWater I wanted to focus on simple, clean designs with idea of building a brand. I did not want to be an artist who makes a few hats. Now that we have a bit of brand recognition I am working to incorporate my art more into our product line and our brand story. I just set up a new studio at our house, so hopefully some big things to come…
Flylords: What product are you most excited about right now?
Garrison: We have a new series of enamel camp mugs coming out for fall that I am super stoked on. They are such fun, durable, versatile mugs and are a great, practical canvas for art and design.
Also, we are all am really excited about our new lightweight “Last Frontier” Bio Cotton flannels coming out this fall. Not only are they super sharp and well made, but they are ethically sourced from our factory that utilizes its own solar array!
Flylords: We had a chance to check out some of your awesome new products in Wyoming like your Old Fashioned fish-themed cups, do you have any other new items in the works for the holiday season?
Garrison: We just produced a full collection of ties, bow ties and pocket squares. They are made here in Denver CO from recycled poly and the designs are classy but pretty fun. My favorite is the “Browns and Beers” design. So keep us in mind for your next wedding or formal event.
Flylords: I know Tanner (@sanjuanandeggs) just joined the team, what is your opinion on that guy?
Garrison: Tanner brought a lot of experience in the fly fishing sphere to us, but honestly the things that make him a great fit here are that he is really genuine, has a great sense of humor and is passionate about fly fishing. We have a lot of good laughs during the course of any given work day!
Flylords: Out of all of your hats… Do you have a favorite?
Garrison: I am not supposed to have a favorite, but of course I do! “The Meat” hat is my personal favorite, specifically one individual hat that I have worn on many, many trips including through the Bolivian Amazon chasing Golden Dorado. That hat has some serious mojo at this point.
Flylords: How about a favorite piece of artwork?
Garrison: We have a piece in our office (a small airplane hangar) that I did many years ago that I think is still one of the best pieces I have done. It is an 8′ x 5′ charcoal and pastel piece of an elephant’s face. It has a lot of presence.
Flylords: How has social media played a roll in the development of your business?
Garrison: It has been a critical piece of our brand development, especially Instagram. I cannot tell you how many people over the years at shows, bars or on the river have told me that they dig our Instagram feed. We try not to take it too seriously and continue to use it as a conduit to communicate our passion, enthusiasm, and values.
Flylords: What’s the goal for in 10 years from now?
Garrison: Great question. I would like to see RepYourWater known for much more than regionally themed fishing hats. I hope that products like our Sun Hoodies, lightweight button-down shirts, flannels, merino socks, drinkware etc gain enough market share and recognition that people associate the brand with much more than just hats. I also hope that we can continue to grow our support for our conservation partners (over 195K+ donated to date) and continue on our path to sustainability.
Flylords: We love seeing the live drawings of your artwork like the one below, what’s the story behind them and where can you purchase them?
Why am I wearing gloves and a respirator? – I probably don’t need the respirator, but old school pastels are pretty toxic, so I am trying to cover up a little better than I used to.
How long did that actually take? – Right about an hour.
Medium is Pastel as mentioned above.
You can purchase them here https://www.repyourwater.com/products/western-brown and be sure to check out RepYourWater on Instagram.