Tiffany Shown // Fair Seas Supply Co.
I met Tiffany through Factory45, a fashion accelerator program that helps aspiring entrepreneurs launch their products that are sustainable and ethically made in the US. Because this is an online program, I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Tiffany face to face. But I’ve had the joy of watching her take her Fair Seas Supply Co. from idea to product to launch. She now has a collection of 8 round beach towel/blankets, each named for a coastal town.
In such a short time, she had a pop-up shop in West Elm (in addition to many others), released a second collection of round beach blankets, and is now in a number stores from coast to coast. I love their versatility – towel and blanket for the beach, cozy throw for the couch for cold winter nights, picnic blanket, and on and on.
Let’s cheer on Tiffany and support her journey with Fair Seas Supply Co. For those dreaming of starting their own business, her advice at the end is priceless.
Tell us about your journey to launch Fair Seas Supply Co. and the story behind the name.
Several years ago I stumbled across a video online which walked the viewer through all the steps it takes to make a single tshirt. I was shocked by the amount of effort and waste it took to make something so simple, and was horrified by the working conditions people are subject to in most overseas factories. Factories which make products for well known brands. Brands that I have in my closet.
I was inspired to start a blog as both a creative outlet and a way to continue to educate myself on sustainable fashion and organic living in general. Through blogging I stumbled across Factory45 – an online program which helps you take your sustainable apparel idea from idea to launch. I had always wanted to start my own business, and with my newfound knowledge and passion for sustainable living, I went with my gut and enrolled. After an impromptu Skype brainstorm session with a couple friends I settled on beach towels. I love the beach and all things nautical, so it worked. As I continued to research options, the idea just sort of evolved into a round towel and then a round Turkish towel. One decision just seemed to lead to the next until I finally had a product I loved.
As far as the name goes, Fair Seas Supply Co. is inspired by the phrase “Fair winds and following seas.” It’s something sailors say to wish good luck and safe travels to one another. Our beach blankets are all about seeking out sandy adventures, so I liked the idea of wishing the blanket owners well on their future voyages. We are also committed to being fair to both the environment and to those who manufacture our goods. We use eco-friendly materials in everything from our fabric to our packaging designs to shipping supplies. We also work with a sew shop here in Southern California who pays a fair wage to their employees.
What have been the biggest hurdles and joys?
Owning a business is full of daily hurdles and joys! The biggest hurdle I’d say has been staying focused. In my first year I really sorted of said yes to anything that came my way: pop-up shops, retail shops, online stores, networking events, etc. While I think this strategy served me well and helped me learn a lot, this year I want to have a clearer path to success. That means learning to say no to things that distract me or don’t translate to sales (another huge hurdle!)
The biggest joy from having my own business has definitely been the new people that have come into my life. While the retail market in general is hyper-competitive, I’ve found that everyone in the sustainable fashion space is incredibly supportive of one another. This blog is a perfect example of that! There are so many talented, smart and kind woman in this little niche who have really banded together to help each other succeed. I find that to be so beautiful and helps me feel like I’m not doing this on my own!
What did you want to be when you grew up? Any connection to what you’re doing now?
At different points growing up I wanted to be a flight attendant, an astronaut, a spy, a fashion designer and a press secretary. I even told my parents, in all seriousness, I wanted to be a Christmas tree. You can see I was quite the focused child Looking back though, it actually makes sense that I chose to own my own business. I think I’m one of those “jack of all trades, master of none” type of people. I have so many interests and so many things I want to do and learn, so it’s hard to stay in my lane doing one single thing like most jobs require. Owning my own business allows me to wear many hats in a single day and satisfies all my curiosities.
I love how well you capture beach life and a love for the coast, both east and west. What are some of your favorite beaches and getaways?
I feel like I’m betraying my west coast roots here, but I’m obsessed with the beaches on the east coast. I’ve been lucky enough to go to Nantucket Island twice and it has quickly become one of my favorite travel spots. I love riding up to the beach on a bike or scooter for the day and having endless views of the water and sand on either side of you. Another favorite beach location is Gooseberry Beach in Newport, RI. It’s heaven on earth. You’re surrounded by quintessential New England grass dunes, there is a floating raft in the water for kids (and adventurous adults) and they have hands down the best grilled cheese at the snack shop. Perfection.
Can you give us a glimpse at what is coming next for Fair Seas Supply Co?
This year I’ll be focused on getting our two collections into retail shops across the country and expanding our wholesale model. I like the idea of supporting other small shop owners across the country and of exposing consumers to an ethical blanket/towel option when they may not know to look for it online. If you have any shops near you that you’d love to see Fair Seas in, let me know!
Any advice for women looking to boldly start that thing they’ve been dreaming about?
“Don’t think, just do”. This was a phrase I first heard in a spin class, but I’ve found that it’s totally applicable to everything in my life and I’ve sort of made me my personal motto. The reality is that you can plan all you want, but the execution of that plan is going to look different from what you imagined anyway. So, take the first step toward your goal and deal with the hurdles (and joys!) as they come day by day.
Also, once you take that first step know that there will days when you are totally exhausted and want to give up. I have those days all the time. In the end, I’m left with this quote, one of my dad’s favorites, and I can’t help but pick myself back up and keep pressing on…with a smile.
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt