Mandy Fry and Summer Rapp join Stokehouse Unlimited
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 6 January, 2014 - Three of the most prominent and experienced names in the lifestyle apparel industry are teaming up for a new women’s brand that will unveil its first collection later this year. Combining the creative leadership of Mandy Fry and Summer Rapp with the surf industry expertise and experience of Paul Naude, the independent women’s brand will be offered in surf shops, fashion boutiques and premium specialty chain stores around the globe upon launch.
Bringing their unique design perspective and decades of experience to the table, Fry and Rapp decided to pioneer this independent women’s brand utilizing their shared passion for business, globetrotting, beach culture and street fashion. Focused on swimwear, cover-ups and sportswear, the brand is described as “more fashion than surf,” but can exist in both retail channels successfully. With international distribution already in place, vendors confirmed and a strong production model, the brand is well positioned for success.
“It has been a lifelong dream to start our own business and we feel now is our time to stake ownership and create a brand from the ground up,” said Fry. “We’re both entrepreneurs by nature and come from families of business owners who have taught us so many valuable lessons. We have also spent our careers learning from the best in the industry about how to build and sustain brands in the ever-changing apparel industry.
As Co-Presidents of this new venture, Fry and Rapp are responsible for the vision of the brand, from product to marketing/ demand creation and e-commerce. Paul Naude will serve as CEO, and all operational functions will be managed through his company, Stokehouse Unlimited, which is launching men’s surf brand, Vissla,and eyewear brand, D’Blanc, this year.
“Partnering up with Paul for financial and operational support is instrumental in making this dream a reality,” added Rapp. “With his passion and vast experience in the California lifestyle business, we’re equipped to design, market and deliver all-around quality product. We both look up to Paul in so many ways and are honored to embark on this journey with him.”
Fry and Rapp are eager to set traditions aside with the new brand and redefine the way business in the women’s market is conducted. This will be represented by a culture of sales experts, whose strengths lie in brand building and retail relationships for the endemic and fashion markets. E-commerce will be a large sales focus as well. In addition, the brand’s leadership will place a large emphasis on creativity and a healthy working culture that inspires new ideas and a fresh “outside of the industry” perspective.
“We want to create a culture that is modern, flexible, fun and extremely productive, ” said Rapp. “Our culture will feel like a creative space, where ideas are born and fostered. We will be on-the-go, staying connected to retailers, tastemakers, and being highly visible to the interior and exterior of the industry. ”
Fry and Rapp have a long and successful history in the apparel industry, first meeting while working at Quiksilver/Roxy in the 1990s, then moving to other industry-leading brands including Billabong and Volcom. Both have had tremendous success in respective design and creative roles, helping to build brand profiles, increase revenues, create innovative events and take home industry awards.
“In addition to a deep understanding of the marketplace and having an eye for fashion to produce great looking, well-merchandised collections, they are both driven entrepreneurs and have a strong desire to create a brand for young women,” said Naude. “I am really excited about the future of this partnership and what it can deliver for the industry.”
“Summer and I have been friends for many years and have mentored each other throughout our careers, so this is going to be a fantastic next chapter,” added Fry. “It’s exciting and inspiring to have the opportunity to create a brand with both our DNA.”
The new brand will launch in July 2014 at Miami Swim show, followed by unveils at Surf Expo and Agenda. Pre-lining with key retailers will start in June. Headquarters will be located in Costa Mesa, California.