Today we meet Chris Da Sie, owner and designer of Coastal Wilderness. Coastal Wilderness is an eco-friendly, outdoor apparel brand based out of California that was born from a combination of necessity and a passion for the outdoors. Chris took his designs and budding online store and began to team up with various environmental organizations, developing a brand and company outlook that is sustainable, makes an impact, and is closely aligned to an active, nature-loving lifestyle. Now looking to expand into brick-and-mortar stores, we hear how the business has expanded with a personal approach to marketing, with Chris’s hands-on enthusiasm complemented nicely by partners who share his values and zeal for protecting our planet.
My name is Chris Da Sie. I’m the owner and designer of Coastal Wilderness. Before starting my apparel business I was a UX/UI Designer. I’ve worked with a variety of companies over the years. I’m currently splitting my time between being a UX Designer at HCL-BigFix in Emeryville California and running Coastal Wilderness.
Coastal Wilderness is an eco-friendly outdoor lifestyle brand. We started in early 2019 after I lost my job working for a local advertising firm. I’ve always wanted to start an apparel company but it just never came to be. But in feeling that desperation of how will I pay my mortgage or feed my family, I put together a few designs and a website over the weekend to hopefully be able to buy food that week. Even while I was creating these initial designs, I had a sense of where my inspiration needed to come from.
Initially, I looked at how and where I grew up. I grew up along the Atlantic coast of Canada. During my childhood, I developed a different sense of what it means to play and enjoy life. Spending time outdoors was everything. This resulted in me now seeing adventure and fun around every corner. When I moved to the Pacific Coast, primarily California, I saw that others had that same passion and pride for this unique coastal lifestyle, but there was no unified voice expressing that love and pride. I mean not everywhere in the world can start days by the ocean, then spend the afternoon hiking the mountains or skiing the slopes. This leads to a different way of thinking and a different lifestyle. I wanted to provide a series of shirts, hoodies, hats that could be with them every step of the way, helping people stay connected to their coastal roots no matter where they were in the world. This is how Coastal Wilderness came to be.
Once I got the initial site up and even managed to make a few sales. I realized I wanted to do even more. I didn’t want Coastal Wilderness to be just another apparel brand. We’ve got enough of those online. I quickly established some basic guidelines that would become the basis of all our company decisions. I wanted Coastal Wilderness to be eco-friendly, use sustainable fabrics whenever possible, and to give back to the planet that I continue to get inspired by. I quickly decided to reach out to 1% For The Planet and seek membership, which we got accepted into. Our membership with this organization has helped us start other initiatives as well like planting a tree with every order and offsetting our carbon footprint.
We are currently working on our 2021 plans. This includes a ton of new design options and garment selection. We are also looking at expanding our presence into brick & mortar retailers. If we can get into at least one retailer shop in 2021, we’d consider that a huge success.
We are also continuing to improve our environmental efforts. We are putting together plans to expand our impact on the planet through new initiatives and partnerships.
Our biggest challenge is in scaling to that next level. As with many small businesses, having enough working capital to hold appropriate amounts of inventory has been a struggle. We are also finding it difficult to build connections with retailers, especially since so many have closed up due to State restrictions.
We are motivated to continue to push forward by the feedback and support we get from our customers. Seeing their photos on Instagram, writing reviews, and sending me personal thank you notes keeps me going on the toughest days. It’s amazing to see some of the places people have worn our apparel.
Our marketing efforts have come in the form of social media posts and email list engagement. I’m a huge believer in taking a personal approach to both platforms. I want our customers to know that there is a person and a family working behind the scenes and I want our customers to know how grateful we are for their support. This is why I write and sign each thank you email personally.
On social media, we’ve connected and partnered with several families throughout the United States, that mirror our passion for family and the planet. We also recently started partnering with social media influencers who have these beliefs as well.
We’ve invested heavily in the Shopify platform. We wouldn’t be able to run our business without it as our e-commerce provider and the ecosystem that Shopify has built over the years.
It might be cliche but just starting is key. It definitely doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be well thought out, you just need to get something out there for the world to see, touch and experience.
One of the most inspiring books I’ve read has to be “The 5 am Club” by Robin Sharma and “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. It changed the way I schedule my day and the habits I use to continue to build my business. I listen to several podcasts that I gain inspiration from. They include “The Human to Human Podcast”, “On Purpose with Jay Shetty”, and “How I Built This”.
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