The low down & the comeback.
It was early February 2020, we were all going about our lives – having beers with friends, awkwardly hugging ‘bros’ we maybe weren’t that close with; and blissfully ignorant to the fact that soon the only thing harder than travelling would be finding a new wetsuit and boots.
Over a wild two-years L/L Supply had grown from a back-of-the-van venture to a decent sized small business. We had a killer team, new ideas and a ton of hustle. Things were looking bright. We had built a complicated supply chain that allowed us to source waste materials from manufacturing floors around the world and turn it into limited edition lines.
Was it wildly unique & crazy sustainable? Hell ya.
Was it totally smooth and efficient? Nope.
In just a couple years we diverted tens of thousands of pounds of material waste and turned it into high quality garments but like anything outside the norm, it had its kinks we were working out.
Spoiler alert: one kink was that it wasn’t pandemic proof.
As demand grew and brand awareness spread, and we started making more and more. We scored MEC, Wholefoods and a list of rad small shops carrying our gear. We took on debt to finance growth and made a couple of big gambles with financing that literally came through less than 24 hours before we would have run out of money.
The banking version of a late drop.
We knew the party had to end though, as the company grew it became apparent using this supply chain as our primary source of product would be next to impossible to scale to where we wanted to go. So, we started exploring new options, focused on circularity and quality – true to why we started. We laid out a sexy plan of transition which included a 3000 sq/ft event space with a mini ramp… just because.
Now we’re back to March 2020.
Overnight the manufacturing market took a major hit and demand plummeted as retailers braced for the worst year ever. Record numbers of retail orders were cancelled instantly. As the virus unfolded, manufacturing picked back up, but it was very difficult to get raw materials in certain sectors. Shipping flights slowed to make room for essential goods and prices skyrocketed for logistics.
Long story short, a combination of factors led to our unique but complicated supply chain basically collapsing overnight, like cheap lawn furniture in a hurricane.
It was decision time. Our lease was up on our pop-up shop and we had to make a call. Without certainty that we could even produce a solid fall line, we opted to not renew.
We laid off the team which sucked more than anything and we started playing defense – new territory for us. It sucked to see years of hard work come to what felt like an abrupt halt. More than that, it sucked to see our team disperse. I never imagined having to do that. Ultimately a mix of good decisions and a lot of luck kept us above water as we opted to take a season off producing.
We’ve been working with some epic local companies and that have kept us busy in the meantime with custom collabs for Boulder House, Driftwood, Straight & Narrow, Live to Surf, Bitches & Barrels, Parker Marine, Giant Bicycles and Certn.
We also had a crazy winter with some all-time days and some of the most consistent swell in recent memory. Between you and I, many mornings I was thankful to not have to report to a retail store by 10am.
As we roll into 2021, the shit show seem to be subsiding and our difficult decisions from last year have put us in a position to slowly begin releasing new stuff again and slowly start rebuilding the company. The new stuff will be a range of recycled, upcycled and organic apparel as we work to implement a fully circular supply chain for soft goods. That's always been our holy grail, recycling is only 50% of the circularity.
No good comeback is without a loud entrance, which is why we launched the first annual Cold Snap Photo Comp with $1000 up for grabs. Toss your hat in the ring here.
And get on the mailing list for early access and 10% off the new stuff for 24 hours when it launches. Just a little thanks for still being here.
If you stuck around through the thick and thin with us, we’re amped to bring you some better than ever developments and humbled we have such a rad community that has built this brand and made such an impact on sustainability over the years. Thanks.