Made in FLA: Go with the Flomotion
Started in a Stetson University dorm, a cool clothing company celebrates sunny livin’
For many years, Florida lacked a mainstream clothing company that celebrated its unique lifestyle—flip flops in winter, year-round outdoor pursuits, and more beach to stroll than any other state. Big brands like PacSun and Hollister had extolled the virtues of California surf culture with great success, but when was it Florida’s turn to have its day in the sartorial sun?
Starting in late 2009, Camiel Canters, who’s been a Floridian since 2006, grappled with this question during discussions with a friend on frequent drives from Stetson University’s Deland campus to their favorite surf spot in New Smyrna Beach.
“There are shops here in Florida that sell California flag stuff; why is there not a similar reverse effect?” they wondered. Eventually, from these conversations, the idea for Flomotion was born.
Using his dorm room as the operations hub, Canters built the company with three close Stetson friends. Each partner had a specialty, ranging from logistics to networking to graphic design. By 2011, they were selling t-shirts online and in a few small retail outlets, including surf and skate shops and resort boutiques.
“Initially we focused on creating a brand that would support Florida athletes,” says Canters, now 29 and an avid surfer and fisherman. “Over time, we realized that locals and visitors took to our brand, and we started focusing on the Florida lifestyle all together.”
Although it was cost prohibitive to manufacture the clothing locally, the team felt it was important to keep design and printing operations in Florida as much as possible, a practice the company still employs today.
From the start, much of the brand’s charm grew from its visual simplicity, as evidenced by the graphic nature of its logo, which replaces the first “o” in Flomotion with a simple fresh-off-the-tree orange. This iconic element makes an appearance in many of the company’s products, including an “I (orange) FL” t-shirt.
Other bits of Florida iconography—sharks, gators, panthers and flamingos—are used on some of the company’s most popular products. Organic designs like palm leaves, waves and Native American inspired patterns pop up throughout the current collection.
Canters does more than aesthetically appreciate Florida’s many natural resources, he gives back to the state in meaningful ways. Community consciousness has been part of Flomotion’s DNA since they launched. Flomotion sponsors several beach cleanups each year, and also sells t-shirts with the slogan “Support Local Fishermen.”
“That’s the community part that a lot of big brands forget about,” Canters says.
To stay rooted in their home state, Flomotion sponsors a handful of Florida-based brand ambassadors—artists, musicians, and athletes, like surfers Corey Howell and Pat Nichols.
Although free-standing Flomotion stores may be a possibility in the future, for now the apparel is sold online and in more than 100 retail locations throughout the state.
Canters says the products sell best in coastal towns, from the Panhandle to Key West. T-shirts remain Flomotion’s bread and butter, but more recent lines have included shorts, hats and swimwear.
“We’ve really tried to zone in on what our community wants from Flomotion,” Canters says. “It’s easy to get carried away with a brand and want to grow fast, and in all different directions.”
In 2015, the company, headquartered in Jacksonville Beach, retracted its efforts to grow outside of Florida, for the time being. That business move has allowed them to focus on tripling revenue from 2015 through the end of 2016.
Although Canters is the only founding member still on staff, he says the best part about owning Flomotion is embodying the lifestyle it exalts.
“The outdoors inspires everything we do,” he says. “We are lucky to live in a state where you can wear board shorts and a t-shirt year-round.”
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