WiseFool To Launch Sustainable Fashion Line In Huntington Beach
In summer 2015, a new social good brand launched in Huntington Beach advising locals to get wise and stay foolish. Since then, WiseFool has evolved into a growing apparel and lifestyle movement committed to preserving the environment and answering to one woman only: Mother Nature.
We caught up with perhaps the wisest fool of them all, WiseFool Founder Daniel Collins, to find out what's in the pipeline for 2017 and beyond.
1) Main & PCH: Talk to us about the name "WiseFool." It's a compelling oxymoron, no doubt.
Daniel Collins: Our name, logo, and tagline are meant to embody our mantra: "Get Wise. Stay Foolish. Good Life." Basically, it's all about finding balance in life. That's why our crown, i.e. wise, contains elements of a jester's hat, i.e. fool, and also has three points: balance between the past, present, and future.
On one hand, it's key to live with purpose. Never stop learning from the past. Carry with you a sense of appreciation for the present, responsibility for the future, and remain aware of your potential significance at all times. That's the "Get Wise" side. On the other hand, don't let all of that weigh you down. If you focus too intently and too seriously on the higher purpose you're called to, then you'll simply burn out. We're all only human. That's where the "Stay Foolish" side comes into play. Take time to stop and smell the roses, put down your damn cellphone, live in the present moment, smile fondly upon the past, look warmly toward the future, and enjoy the beauty of life around you.
Some may see everything I just said as far too foolish, but where does wisdom come from if not foolishness? No one ever learned anything without first making mistakes. Otherwise, would I be attempting against all odds to solidify a place at the table for a fully sustainable fashion brand within an already oversaturated industry? Who knows, maybe I am more foolish than I am wise. I guess we will see.
2) What's your background?
I grew up just south of Buffalo, NY, near the shores of Lake Erie, where began my fascination with the water and all wonders that Mother Nature has to offer. As you know, the Great Lakes are a magical place (the largest bodies of fresh water in the world!), and while most people in my new Southern California home have heard of the snow that I spent most of my life skiing, not many people know that we actually have several beautiful beaches and waterfront areas, complete with a mini summer tourist industry of our own.
I then shipped off to South Bend, IN, for seven years, where I graduated from the University of Notre Dame (UND) with a degree in political science, peace studies, and Irish studies. Then came Notre Dame Law School with a concentration on trademark and copyright. While at UND, I had the honor of serving as our famous football and basketball teams' "Leprechaun" mascot. Subsequently, I signed a publishing deal for a tell-all book about my experience, titled "Life as the Notre Dame Leprechaun." Though several of the authorities at Notre Dame didn't like the less-than-altar-boy antics they found mixed into the pages of my book, I'm proud to have published something that truly comes from my heart with the one message that I hold most dear. My message is this: Life is a gift best enjoyed when shared in harmony with all other life, and every act we take during our own lives, no matter how small, has far more impact on all other lives than we may know. Thus, I've found that life usually works out best when lived with a general awareness of this potential significance, along with an appreciation for the particular manifestation of that gift that we've received.
After a successful book tour and a brief unsuccessful stint as a Golden Gloves fighter, I decided to leave a lifetime of harsh weather behind and head to Southern California. While several of my friends had already made the move to L.A., I decided to strike out on my own to my newfound favorite place: Surf City USA.
3) What inspired WiseFool?
During the summer of 2015 I took a leap of faith by quitting my job as a team manager for another brand and launching my own venture. I'll be the first to admit that I had little to no clue about anything involving fashion, but I never saw selling clothes as my main goal or purpose in doing this. Rather, I saw the opportunity to build a brand as an excellent avenue to reach even more people than I did with my book, but with the same positive message about carrying a sense of awareness and appreciation for living with a healthy, healing intent in all that we do every day. Then, over the course of WiseFool's first year, the more I learned about the fashion industry, the more I learned just how horribly damaging it is to our natural environment. In fact, the fashion industry ranks right up there with big oil as one of our planet's worst polluters. Needless to say, this shocked me and spurred my love for Mother Nature into action.
In 2017, we've made it our mission to honor Mother Nature in everything that we do. This will begin in the weeks and months ahead with our newly concentrated effort to become a definitive voice for everyday environmental advocacy, and more generally for reviving a sense of appreciation for the many miracles offered us by our natural surroundings, especially those of us fortunate enough to live here in Southern California. Along with that appreciation comes a sense of responsibility we are all called to carry with us in everything we do, namely by simply taking into consideration how our daily choices—as in what we eat, buy, throw away, and wear—collectively determine whether or not we will have a healthy future for our planet and the many generations to come after us.
How do we plan to accomplish this? As both a media outlet, and a source of top-quality, fair-priced, earth-friendly fashion choices we can all feel good about wearing each day. While I can't quite spill the beans on what our first-ever fully sustainable line of fashion and accessories will include, I can say that we're definitely having a lot of fun experimenting with bamboo and other sustainable fibers for our shirts, turning recycled single-use plastic water bottles into women's yoga pants, and planning the return of our all-natural floating bamboo sunglasses that were such a local hit this past summer. Everything we create will be made exclusively from sustainable, natural, and recycled materials. I'm more stoked than ever to share our full collection with the world, and I think there will definitely be something worth getting excited over for everyone we reach, from our loyal advocates who have been with us from the beginning to our new customers who are discovering WiseFool for the first time.
4) Who designs your originals?
I've designed most of what we've done to date, and I'll continue to have a hand in all designs going forward. Our new line will feature a bit of a new look and vibe to match our new innovative materials. It's all really next-level stuff. We're now working with experts in the manufacturing to bring you the best quality sustainable fashion possible. Get stoked!
5) Who are the wise fools behind WiseFool?
We have far too many loyal advocates and loving supporters to name, but many are surprised to discover that most of the manpower behind WiseFool comes from just two of us: myself and my lovely accomplice, partner-in-crime, and better half Melinda the Mermaid. We serve as co-directors of WiseFool. My brother Drew now serves as our L.A. regional director, lead advocacy coordinator, and head of our music department, and we are beyond stoked for the energy he will bring to the table this year. As members of a start-up, we all wear several (sustainably made) hats at once. Running and building a start-up company can be daunting at times, but we're driven by what we see as a worthy cause—saving the world—and we're excited about what the future holds for our noble undertaking.
6) Speaking of noble undertakings, you and Drew recently embarked on a successful mission to visit Standing Rock and deliver supplies—funded through a GoFundMe campaign—to water protectors. What's next on the #NoDAPL front for WiseFool?
We're so grateful to our generous family and friends who donated to help us deliver much-needed supplies to Standing Rock. With your help, we brought nearly $4,000 worth of winter survival gear to the camps, where we spent two nights aiding the #NoDAPL movement. I say movement because that's what's really going on here, and that's the next step for us. Standing Rock is not an isolated incident. It's part of a much larger awakening along the lines of what I've been talking about. It's all interconnected, and Standing Rock sparked the flame that we hope spreads like wildfire as more and more people continue to wake up to the fact that humans have a tremendous impact on our natural environment. Unfortunately, under our current way of doing things, it's not a good one. Luckily the science, technology, and ability to right our wrongs are all out there waiting to be put into action. It's just a matter of waking up and getting it done at this point. Ultimately, we just hope it's not too late. If it's not, and we rebound from this tipping point we're currently flirting with, then we'll be proud to tell our grandkids one day all about that time our generation saved Planet Earth.
7) Anything else in the queue for 2017?
Honestly, I might be more stoked about unveiling our blog than anything else. During my time at UND I ran a pretty successful fan blog, and although it's been awhile, I can't wait to use what I learned from that experience to create a platform for reaching thousands of people with our positive message. That, and we have a super dope back-to-school special edition release planned for summer's end, which might just coincide with a first-of-its-kind patent-pending invention born right here in HB!
8) Where can Huntington Beach locals find your products?
The Zone! Our favorite new surf shop right here on Pacific Coast Highway in Sunset Beach currently carries several of our limited-edition HB-exclusive products, and they'll be among the first to carry our fully sustainable line when it drops this summer. If you find yourselves in L.A., stop in to see our Santa Monica collection at Chris + Mary, or if you're heading up to shred the pow at Big Bear, pick up a pair of our bamboo shades at Goldsmith's Boardhouse. If you make it out to Maui, say hi to our friends at POME and tell Walle to put your first fresh coconut on our tab.
9) Tell us about some of your favorite collaborations to date.
We've worked with so many amazing local artists right here in HB! We absolutely love all the local talent that we've been fortunate enough to work with right here in town, including a rad art show at Rainwater Gallery this past year that included our entire WiseFool Famiglia of local artists. We can't wait to collaborate with more in the future. If you're a fan of Sam Bernal, Tony J. Matos, Josh Serafin, or Foto Merlin, stop by The Zone to find our limited-edition collab pieces with these artists before they're sold out forever. That, and be on the lookout for fun events, features, and much more co-created by WiseFool and our friends at Statements Magazine.
10) What have you found to be the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of establishing a brand in Huntington Beach?
HB, though booming, is still very "locals only." Not just anyone can walk into Surf City and make it big, and for good reason. This place has a storied tradition that humbles me every time I walk down Main Street or out onto the pier. Luckily, I didn't come here for the wrong reasons, or I'd already be long gone with my tail between my legs. My message is a positive one, and I've met so many remarkable movers and shakers who have recognized that right here in our rad little local community that I truly believe I couldn't have picked a better place in the world to launch WiseFool. That being said, the "old guard" can be pretty set in their ways around here. We look to make positive changes, which also means disrupting the status quo. I'm not saying that we want to run around squashing toes, but sometimes something's gotta give. Quite often that can lead to ugly responses. I've already been called the worst names imaginable and cast into exile by a certain group of local bullies who run a certain notorious Facebook forum, and believe it or not, I even had to move out of my old apartment to a new location for safety reasons after receiving threats and harassment from more than one source. I'm stoked to say that none of that silliness has dissuaded me from my mission. Far less people know where I live now, but it's still downtown, and I can still see Mother Ocean from my balcony.
The best part about living in HB? Without a doubt it's our connection to Mother Nature, with the ocean literally at our doorstep and our co-dependent relationship whereby we depend deeply on our natural environment for our tourist economy. As such, we are much ahead of the game when it comes to transitioning toward becoming much more in tune with nature. To that end, we hope to harness that connection and bring forth its full potential by giving our vibrant local scene a little nudge in the right direction toward a more responsible, sustainable future.
11) What ways can readers join the WiseFool Famiglia?
The best way to contribute to our cause is by picking up a piece or two from our current collection in order to rep the coming revolution and spread the good word. That's why we're giving everyone a chance to take a full 50% off their entire first purchase through January 31 by typing "WiseFool2017" at checkout, exclusively at www.getwisefool.com. We've only got a couple pairs of our all-natural bamboo floating sunglasses and our yoga pants left in stock, and our new line of Bear Flag Beanies are going fast. If you can't contribute monetarily, no worries. There are plenty of other ways to get involved.
Sign up for our email list to stay updated on the release of our first-ever fully sustainable fashion line this summer. If you or someone you know would make a good ambassador or advocate for our cause, drop us a line and tell us about it. We love hearing from you! While you're at it, feel free to follow our visual story on Instagram, enjoy the daily earth-friendly articles and videos we post to our Facebook page, and take part in our morning ritual of retweeting the latest in environmental advocacy each day. Last but not least: Get Wise. Stay Foolish. Good Life!