In this Weeks Episode
In this week's episode, Zach sits down with Al Perkinson, founder of Bajio. After well over a decade building Costa sunglasses, Al had decided to change course, take his experience, and build a sunglasses company that incorporates his love for the ocean and building positive change. Bajio, meaning “shallows” in Spanish pays tribute to the estuaries, low-country, and origin for life in our oceans. It's a brand that focuses just as much on conserving the ecosystems we explore as they do on their sunglasses.
Roaming the Outdoors
If you find yourself watching this episode of the podcast or looking at the thumbnail you will notice Al isn't your typical clean cut corporate guy, despite having worked for some of the largest outdoor companies in the industry; Costa, Simms, and HUK to name a few. Al's passion for the outdoors started at a young age, wandering the outdoors in search of critters and good times with friends. The outdoors would continue to be a guiding light for Al and eventually the motivation behind Bajio. After time spent being a land surveyor, armed with a chainsaw, pandering to the corporate world in New York and over a decade working as the VP of marketing for Costa; it was time for Al to chase his passion.
Protecting the Flats
Bajio in Spanish translates to the shallows or low country. It's a word that may take a few times to pronounce, but makes total sense once you dive into the why behind the brand. From an ecosystems perspective Marshlands are an incredibly important link in the chain for our marine ecosystems. They provide shelter for flora and fauna, breeding grounds for a variety of fish species, and protect our coastlines from erosion. They are also, great a sequestering carbon, and helping reduce the carbon dioxide in earths atmosphere. There is a long list as to why the flats are necessary to our coastal communities, and only up until recent that they have come under attack with rising sea level, excessive pollution, and sea side development.
Fortunately we have guys like Al, who are willing to give back to the ecosystems that provide so much for us.
Teaching the Next Generation
Just like the flats themselves, it's the younger generation that will pave the way for the future of our coastal ecosystem. For Al this is synonymies with the intent of Bajio and all apart of the overall mission. When creating such a sustainably minded business, the community is the a key ingredient to its success.
"We know that the next generation of fishing is not going to survive unless we have a new generation of young people coming in. So it clicked, it's all about the next generation."
The community around Bajio is comprised of people, young people, that truly care about the future of our coastal ecosystems. Those that are able to help tell the story behind why the bonefish or striped bass is important to our oceans and communities. It's the people that use the glasses to help transform their perspective on the water, and just maybe turn the tide for those who cant quite see what needs to happen.
Capt. Zach: My name is captain Zach, and this is along the keel as a lifelong Waterman. I have gone coast to coast, having opportunities to rub elbows with some incredibly hardworking men and women who have built their lives by the shoreline. I take you behind the scenes and some of the most iconic coastal brands chat with entrepreneurs and chop it up with the people who are making a difference on our coastal communities.
Worn from the need built by the water. Get ready to earn your summer.
What's up everyone. And welcome back to another episode of along McKeel. Thank you for tuning in and in this week's episode. Of the podcast. We actually get to sit down and talk with Al Perkinson, the founder of behemoth sunglasses after, well, over a decade of building Coasta sunglasses. As the VP of marketing, Al decided to change his course, take his experience with the sunglass industry and his time with Kosta and also his experiences just growing up on the ocean in the outdoors and his love for the ocean and building a positive change and creative, but he'll which in short means the shallows or.
Yes, January or low country. And it really is the origin for life in the oceans, right? Stripe, bass, Redfish. They all kind of migrate up into the estuaries, create and mate, and then come back to the oceans and they go about their lives. So with that, Al took the idea of conservation education, community and all these awesome things that make up what Behill really stands for.
So that, and more in this episode of alumni, Very excited to have Alan a podcast today and talk all about his experience building the company, but he, oh, thank you guys for tuning into this episode. If you want to learn more head on over to along the keel.com, you can sign up for our newsletter. Also check us out on social media.
We are always posted on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. And if you stick with us, sign up for our newsletter, we're going to be sending you some great announcements in the very near future. Working with some great brands. And we're actually introducing a new segment of the show that focuses not only on the brands, but also the people.
So with that, I hope you guys enjoyed this episode of the show and we will catch you at the end.
Al Perkinson: Great Monday morning, you know,
Capt. Zach: grind right. Started out with you and good to go get it down.
Al Perkinson: Pretty good. Yep. That's all good. How you doing? I'm
Capt. Zach: doing well, I'm doing well, staying busy out on the water, so can't complain, but you know, it's a pleasure to be able to have you on the podcast today. And I just wanted to welcome you to along the keel and just, you know, thank you for taking the time to talk about, but heal.
And we spoke a little bit last time, but you know, if you could just kind of give us a quick intro as to who Al Perkinson is,
Al Perkinson: who Al Perkinson is. Wow. That's a big question. You know, I, I tell my wife all the time, I'm a simple kind of man, you know, but no, I, I you know, I guess a little bit about my background, I had a.
I have been in the fishing industry for, I guess, 20 years now. And before that was in sort of marketing and advertising. I was born in North Carolina, so I consider myself a Carolina boy and grew up, you know, running through the woods with my brothers and fishing and creeks and head down to the coast and fishing down there.
So always loved, loved the outdoors, but you know, it really wasn't until. Started working in the industry that I got to take it up a notch and just go to some really cool places to fish and fish for all kinds of species, with all kinds of rods in my hand. And you know, so, so that's a, you know, a bit of my background, we started this company, I guess we launched about five or six months ago, so we're pretty, pretty new and pretty young.
And so it was. It's been great so far. And you know, it's just kind of the culmination, I guess, of my career and, and fishing and and a chance to pull all my friends together and do something really fun.
Capt. Zach: That's awesome. Yeah. So now we're in North Carolina.
Al Perkinson: Well, I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then my family moved around a little bit.
We moved away and then came back to a little town called Laurinburg and you know, Laurinburg is probably 10 or 15,000 peoples really rural, so big hunting and fishing type of. And, you know, there's nothing to do. I mean, there really weren't any restaurants or definitely weren't any bars except some pretty shady places out in the country.
So yeah, I mean, just for fun on a weekend, when I was in high school, we would go out to somebody's land and have a party and just. Open the trunks of our cars, so we could hear the speakers and that was our stereo system. And hang out, drink beer and, you know, do other kinds of things and wake up the next morning and go dolphin, you know?
So that was kinda kind of how we roll it out through high school.
Capt. Zach: Yeah. Yeah. Now was that I, you know, forgive me if I'm not too familiar with that place, but does that by the coast,
Al Perkinson: it's only about 90 miles from the coast. So. It's Eastern North Carolina and feels very coastal best barbecue in the world.
I'll just gonna, just going to tell you, I know a lot of people in Texas would disagree with that, but Eastern North Carolina, Carolina is. The home of King's barbecue and all the other great vinegar based sauces. So so yeah, pretty close.
Capt. Zach: No, they're all like different, depending on where you are in the United States, it's almost like a dialect, right?
Or like an accent, depending on if you're in North Carolina versus Texas versus Florida, all different types of barbecue. It's kind of a interesting take on, on something. I guess culturally significant here in the United States, you don't get it anywhere, anywhere else. I mean, I'm, I'm assuming, right? I mean maybe different types of barbecue, but so you being 90 miles from the coast now, what was it?
The draw to saltwater? Right? Because now your whole life kind of seems to revolve around salt water. So was there a, a friend of a family member that kind got you into that?
Al Perkinson: Yeah. You know, I guess just part of the culture of the Carolinas is the beach life. You know, there's even had music called beach music, which everybody had the shag was the dance, you know, and it was a unique type of dance to, to that part of the world.
I'm really influenced by a lot of the, you know, African-American music and culture. And so if you grow up in the Carolinas, you're just less. Like far Western North Carolina, but if you grew up in Eastern North Carolina, the beach is just part of your life as part of the culture. So every summer you know, you go down to the beach and back then beach houses were pretty cheap, you know, so a lot of my friends own beach houses, and we would just hang out at the beach and, you know, the, the fishing is.
I don't know the fishing wasn't like the Florida keys or something, but it was still good. And it was, it was fun to get out on the water. So there's a lot of sort of inshore, marshy type of stuff. And then off shore, you had to go out pretty far, but so we didn't do as much off shore, but we definitely fished all around there.
And then all the rivers and creeks that, you know, dump out on the beach, know we do camping trips up those, those guys and. You know, catch a lot of freshwater species up there. So it was all just kind of integrated in our life, the beach, the saltwater to fresh water. It was kind of all mixed together.
Really, you know,
Capt. Zach: any any moments where you guys were maybe got the boat a little bit stuck on the marsh or, or beach devil too far and had to spend the night.
Al Perkinson: Man, we had all kinds of all kinds of calamities and moments. I can't I can't think of one right off, right off the bat. That was Seminole.
But you know, I had, I had three younger brothers and then you know, growing up in high school, just a whole posse of, of guys that we hung out with. And so we were always getting into trouble of one condor or another.
Capt. Zach: Hmm. So now as the older brother, you were kind of the, the lead, the posse the leader, I guess you would say right now as all the rest of the family, are they in the outdoor industry as well?
Or do they kind of go off and do their own thing?
Al Perkinson: Yeah, it would kind of a mix, you know, my so I'm the oldest, the next one down. Ken, he he is, I would say he is more of a true outdoor guy. Than any of us. And, you know, he and I were sort of the two that, that were always outdoors can grew up to be a golf pro.
And then he switched over to be into fly fishing and he ran lodges down in Belize and in The Bahamas. And. He's such an incredible athlete man in golf, he was a scratch golfer and he picks up a fly rod and he's cast and better, better than I am in like six months, you know? And he was running a lodge in The Bahamas.
So flip pallet and lefty Cray and all these dudes would come down and give him lessons and stuff. So he got to be incredible. And then I've got a brother who's in the restaurant business and he was, he was like the music. You know, and always got these good looking and got all the girls. So now he's still like Mr.
Hosts or the restaurant. And does that whole nightlife, and then the youngest was in education. He was a smart one. So he's he's still an education as a headmaster of a school. And you know, so we're all a little bit different, but you know, we, we all come together around the outdoors, mostly for fishing, but also, you know, play a little bit of golf and stuff like that.
Capt. Zach: Sure. Yeah. Well, it, it, it seems to be a theme. I feel like in families where, you know, either the parents or the brothers and sisters are all in into it. And, and that's kinda how I got into the outdoors and into boating and fishing and, and not, not a whole lot of hunting. Although I talked a lot of hunters.
But it's not a matter of something that I quite partake in. But with that being said, you know, you mentioned that you grew up kind of on the low lands and the flats of North Carolina, which is a perfect introduction into, you know, the name, but he oh, right. Which is the name of your sunglass brand.
And, you know, before that, Kind of covering where he came from as a perfect introduction as to where you went. Right. And right out of, you know, I'm assuming right out of school, you went right into, or led yourself down into the path of working for one of the largest companies out there that produces sunglasses, that everyone knows the name of, which is Kosta.
So what was the process from you kind of taking your passion for the outdoors and then moving it into something that you actually do for.
Al Perkinson: Yeah, well, it was definitely a process, you know, and I, I I started out as you know, in my, in my business, graduate to college and, you know, didn't do too well my first year, pretty much flunked out of college my first year.
Capt. Zach: I feel like,
Al Perkinson: yeah. You know, and I just CA I didn't, I couldn't find anything that was interesting or that motivated me. So I went to work as a rural land, surveyor and rural land surveyors, man, you, you show up to work and they hand you a Bush ax on the chainsaw and you're out in like remote woods, cutting lines all day long, every day below is really cool about it.
Is that for about two years, I was in the woods. Dawn til dusk. And so it was through all kinds of weather. You never had a day off, you know, so if it's raining, if it's snowing hot, cold, whatever, and really difficult physical labor. So anyway, we were out there and what I learned was like, I could, after being out there, you know, Dawn til dusk for a long period of time through all the seasons, you get a sense of the outdoors.
Right. And you get the. And so you can feel like mother nature and how powerful it is. And so I, I. You know, I, I kept that as in my mind as, and I was like, you know, I need to do something in the outdoors cause this just like, you know, feeds the soul man. It's so it's so powerful. It's so, so cool. But it was, but then, you know, after I got out went back to school and graduated, finally went to grad school and stuff.
But it took a while. For me to be able to do exactly what I wanted to do. Cause I felt like I had to learn my trade. Right. And my trade was marketing. So I went to work on Madison avenue for a while. And to work with the best, you know, and really learn those skills, knowing that when the opportunity came along for a job in the outdoors, that I would have as skills.
So I could actually get that job. So it was, it was, it was tough going through that because I wasn't really passionate about a lot of the stuff I was doing, except for, you know, Except for the marketing piece of it. Wasn't super passionate about it. But I knew I had to do it so that I'd have the opportunity to do what I was passionate about later on.
So I went to work for a little ad agency in South Carolina and you know, met, met some people at Kosta went and it was just a tiny little $6 million brand out of Florida. And when I, as soon as I met a man, I was like, This is the brand that's going to really fuel my passion and be really in tune with what I want to do.
So got him as a client did that for a few years. They asked me to come over and head up marketing when they got big enough. So I, I did that and then it was a really cool wild ride for probably what, 15, 17 years, something like that.
Capt. Zach: I can imagine. And, and it's, and it came from humble beginnings. Like you being a land surveyor out in the woods, working with your hands, and then all of a sudden you're kind of, you know, in some way, you're still working with your hands on the water, but you're also using your mind to kind of construct this incredible brand.
Now, what was it about mark? That you were drawn to, right? Because here you are being a land surveyor, you know, like a mountain man, right. And all of a sudden they're like, no, I'm going to go, you know, try and get people to buy things or, or be investing their time into someone else's brand. Like what's kind of your mindset and mentality when a you're trying to build a brand, but B also, why is it that you were drawn to that?
Like you could've gone sales, he could have gone operations could have been a lot of different things. You went, but you chose marketing, which I think is a very interesting. Path to go down humbling.
Al Perkinson: Well, yeah, the other, the other part of this is sort of in the creativity realm. So when I did go back to school, I became a sculpture major.
So I at first I was a business major. Cause I didn't know what majors were. I didn't know what to do. And I walked into like accounting class and man, it was like the most boring thing I'd ever seen in my life. And the, the people in the business classes. I don't know, they just seem like they were kind of dead.
There wasn't any life there. So they were like learning accounting and learning, marketing, and sales and all this kind of stuff, but they didn't really seem very passionate about it. And I didn't really see a lot of creativity going on there. So, you know, I knew that eventually I'd probably want to be in some sort of business.
So I decided to switch over and be an art major and. Sculpture was really appealing because I could work with my hands. And actually when, when I'd be out surveying, I would find all these objects, old rusted things and just collect them. Cause I thought they were cool. And so then my first sculpture was made out of, I caught a bucket art.
It was all these old rusted buckets and stuff I'd found out in the woods. But anyway, it just kind of started this idea that if you could learn to be. Creative and think creatively, you know, develop that right side of your brain. Then you could be a really powerful business person because there wasn't a lot of creativity in business.
So that was at that point, that was kind of my goal and was to learn how to be creative and then to bring ideas and creativity. You know, into, into a business and enter the, you know, the business world. And I did that in grad school as well. I got a degree in arts administration, so I would take an accounting class in the afternoon and a sculpture class in the evening.
And I thought my head was going to explode, but got through it. And then found advertising, which was a very creative form of business. And that then led to. You know, to branding and to marketing. And the reason I loved it was because it was kind of like sculpture, you know, you take a brand, it's this thing and it's living breathing thing.
And so you could just like, it's a hunk of clay, you know, you could, you know, I could take my skills that I learned in sculpture and. And sculpture, you work on the whole object all at the same time, right? You don't stay in one place, you move around the whole thing. And so it was great training for building a brand because a brand is multi-dimensional and you really have to work on all components of a brand at, you know, not stay in one place too long in order to build something really cool.
So combining the outdoors, combining creativity you know, Kosta became kind of like my. My artist's workshop and just work things out and tried new things over a long period of time. And I was lucky enough to have the freedom and flexibility.
Capt. Zach: Yeah. And you created a very, I mean, it's an iconic brand, right?
When you think fishing up until, you know, now, right when the hero was coming out in the market, but it was all, it was Kosta. Right. So your piece of art, you know, with you, if you will, like, I love how you describe it as that, because so much of, I think a brand is reflective of the people who created. Right.
And, you know, COVID. Just an incredible brand where it's, it's all fishing conservation. There's a lot of different aspects to it. Now, you know, you, you leave Kosta right. Somewhat recently in recent times and you know, you go out and you're like, okay, well, I've kind of gone about building Kosta and you dabbled in a few other places, but never really leaving the outdoor industry.
Now, what other, when you left Cosa. What was the, what was the path that led you to creating but heal? Right. And, and I, before we even go into that, I think it's really important to touch on the fact that you've been a sunglass guy for what now? Almost 20 years. Yup, definitely. Right. Roughly. Why is it, do you think sunglasses are so important to the outdoor community?
I know we touched on it a little bit last time, but you know, you mentioned that it was very transient. Right. Like you put those sunglasses on and you become a different. So what, what is it that attracts you to keep on going with sunglasses rather than any, any other product you can create backpacks?
T-shirts what have you, but you chose
Al Perkinson: Yeah. Well, you know, I like durable goods for one thing, you know, durable products, a hat and a t-shirt. I mean, some of mine lasts a lot longer than my wife would want them to, but they're kind of short lifts, you know? And something that's, that's more of like a durable, good lasts for a longer period of time.
And so, because it does, you're going to spend a lot more time. Crafting it. And you're going to care a lot more about all the details of it, more so than you would in a soft, good situation. So, you know, I think therefor is going to have more meaning to the people in the company that the people who are making it and you know, more meaning to the people who.
You know, so if you own I mean, it's not like a firearm or a fly reel that could last for 30 years, but you know, it's along that, along those lines, but sunglasses are just a cool product. I mean, if you think about it, you know, when, when people put on a pair of sunglasses, They want to adopt a new personality, you know, like you'll put on a pair and he'd be like, Hey, I'm clean these wood, you know, or I'm dirty Harry or I'm, you know, like a rock star, you know?
And so, you know, or, or a beauty queen or, or whatever, you know, but it, it changes you. And so it's fun to play around with that sort of, like you said, transformative nature. Of the product and to have some fun with it. So, so that's, that's that's something that when you start marketing, you know, clothing and apparel and stuff like that, I don't know.
It's just not quite, it's not there quite as much. The other thing though is, is maybe it's a little more like philosophical or whatever, but. Your eyes, you know, are the, your window to the world. And so vision and sight, they, lots of times have double meanings, you know, like what's your vision for the world and what's the vision in terms of your eyes.
So there's a concrete and then there's a more philosophical kind of thing. And so when you're marketing sunglasses, building sunglasses, it's very easy to integrate sort of higher purpose types. Ideas and thoughts into it that you know, you're seeing the world, but you know, you're also, you know, seeing you know, how the world ought to be or seeing what's wrong with the world, things like that.
So it's really fun from an like an intellectual standpoint to play around with, with that. And the marketing, you know, of the product. And then when it comes to fishing specifically you know, if you ask most professional anglers, they will tell you that obviously the rod is the most important piece of equipment that they have because you can't catch fish without a rod, but second is their sunglasses.
Because if you can't see the fish, you can't catch it. And most, unless you're just trolling or something. So, you know, having the ability to create a product that really makes a difference in the enjoyment of the. 'cause, you know, we all like, Hey, if you don't catch any fish, it's like, well, it was a great day.
It was all about the experience. It was kinda like bullshit. I mean, you want to catch some fish when you're out there fishing. I mean, come on. So, so anyway, it, I mean, it is about the experience for sure, but it's great to catch fish and sunglasses will, if they're great, sunglasses can help you catch more fish.
Capt. Zach: Philosophical and functional, you know, and, and I love the fact that you kind of integrate that in. And I think in a lot of ways you've taken your vision through your glasses, right. And made and constructed a. Coastline right. Is kind of what you're looking for. Like a lot of the conservational work, you guys do, how the sunglasses are produced the whole from the top down, you've really kind of taken a piece by piece to almost create your vision of what you want to see along our coastlines.
You know, whether it be here in the U S or elsewhere. Cause I know you guys do a lot of work down in Mexico and, and a bunch of other places too. You're so right. Like, you know, you put those sunglasses on and there's almost like a light switch, right? You become, you know, Zack to captain Zach or Al to captain out and it's like, you hop on the boat and if you don't have your sunglasses, you better bet.
I'm going to turn around. I'm going to go grab mine because you just need them, you know, functionally. But also they serve, they serve a purpose from your perspective, you know? So you go from Kosta, you decide are it's. Sunglasses are definitely. You create the heal right. And behave in in Spanish means low lands.
Right. So what was it about that you kind of steered your way into creating an incredible brand, like Kosta to really creating what you saw or what you wanted to see in the market with. And then what was your whole process in, in creating that name? Because it's such a great name. It's something that the lowlands are an underdog.
Right. And we talked about that last time, a little bit, and the importance of it, but the lowlands are a place that, you know, everything starts in, but not a lot of people give credit to. So why was it that you created that the brand, but yet, I guess as a whole, but more so about the name. Cause I really liked the story behind it.
Al Perkinson: Yeah. So we. You know, it was, it was interesting when we decided to start this company, you know, I left and left Kosta and you know, went to work for a company out of Bozeman, Montana called Sims. And I I'd known the people at Sam's for a long time. And they had asked me a few times if I would come over and, you know, do what we did at Kosta at Sam's.
And so I. Finally at, after coastal was purchased by a huge company, I could see the writing on the wall that, you know, things were going to go and direction that I was going to lose control of. And there wasn't the place that I wanted to be personally. That's great for them, but it wasn't good for me. So we jumped on him.
We're like, what the hell, man, let's leave Florida and go out to Montana. We love Montana. So we did. We did that for a bit and found that 35 degrees below zero was more than the Southern boy could take. But my Jeep two, man, my Jeep just like blew up. Top blew up the freaking battery. The dude's at the, at the garage laughed at my battery.
Like, where are you from? And Florida I'm like, well, actually, yeah. I was like, man, you need much bigger battery than this. So and then we had to get freaking snow tires with the spikes in them and everything was crazy snowblowers, all that stuff. But anyway, we all the while we're sort of watching what was happening down in Florida with the merger and everything, and I decided to come back and.
And eventually said, Hey, now's the time. And if we really want to do, you know, the sort of the mission oriented stuff that we want to do you know, I can't like ask another company to adopt my vision in that way. And so we said, you know, W if we really want to do what we want to do with business and with a business and with a brand we're just going to have to do it ourselves.
We're going to have to own it and do it ourselves. So it was a hard decision because we'd never done it before. And, but we decided what the hell we're going to go for it. And so, so we did, and about the time we decided that COVID hit and send us back to. You know, our, our house and, and we're sequestered there for another three or four months, but it was a good time because we got to actually change a lot of things and think a lot of things, you know, think about a lot of things.
And one of the things was the name. And originally we were going to call it panga because panga is the boat that we thought it was symbolic. That, you know, this little simple boat had really transformed the economy. A lot of undeveloped countries. And it was so versatile. It could go in shallow water, it could go in deep water.
And, and, and it was really inexpensive, you know? So if, and for Margaret and I, and we loved just sort of exploring in that part of the world. And so this, the panga was the place where. All our best adventures. All our best memories had occurred on a panga aisle. Some of the greatest people in the world we met, you know, we met on a panga.
But it was very specific of a real specific name. And so we decided that we wanted something bigger, something that talked about this world that we wanted to help change. You know, this part of the world and the place we wanted the brand to live. And we found stumbled upon this name, but he, oh, and it was an old, Mexican name does not really use that much, but it means the saltwater flats.
It means the lowlands, the marshes, and it's those places where. You know, the next generation of fit. That's where they are right now, today, they're sitting in those low lying places. And if they get destroyed, if they're not, you know, if they're not healthy, then there's no next generation of fish of any kind of fish.
And so it seemed like you know, that that was the perfect name for the brand. And you know, It was the place that we wanted to live in. And it was a place that was super important to the oceans. And then we started thinking about it too. And we're like, look, what we've also always enjoyed doing is bringing young people into the outdoors.
So whether it's high school fishing or college fishing or, or whatever, you know, you can just tell when you bring them in and you get them out there. And they're not used to being there. It just transformed them, you know, and turns and opens their eyes. They get more connected to themselves. And to the outdoors, and it's a powerful thing.
And we also know that the next generation of fishing is not going to survive unless we have a new generation of young people coming in. So then it kind of clicked and they were like, wow, but he, oh man, it's all about the next generation. And and so we stuck with that name and we're like, well, our boys in North Carolina, aren't going to definitely are not going to know how.
And true to form. We've got all kinds of cool pronunciations of the name so far. Well, you know, the dudes and the dues in Louisiana, they kind of give it the Bayou you, so they think that they're thinking in terms of buy use down there. So they call it by you and then Baggio is pretty, pretty popular.
I'm not sure many people get the J is an H and call it . But you know, it's, we have fun with it. So it's, it's been kind of cool. I love it.
Capt. Zach: I love it. And it doesn't seem like you guys have forgotten too much about the panga because I could be mistaken, but it's in your logo, right? I mean,
Al Perkinson: it has it's in the logo and some people think it's a surfboard, but it's definitely panga.
And so we kept a piece of the panga and then we bought a. And we have, we have some on our YouTube channel, you can see the film of us refurbishing the panga and fixing it up and stuff like that.
Capt. Zach: Very cool. Cath to a bus, right? A little school bus school
Al Perkinson: bus. Yeah.
Capt. Zach: Yeah. Great. So you mentioned this whole idea of, you know, the lowlands younger generation, next generation people coming in.
What is it that you guys are doing? Cause you guys have so many different conservational aspects to poquito to so you get your, you know, you design the sunglasses, you start putting them out there, but you, you have such a strong relationship with these guys down in Mexico, as well as a really strong relationship with a lot of other, you know, coastal conservation communities and whatnot.
And you also mentioned, which I wasn't aware of that you do a lot of work with, you know, the younger generation. Can you kind of speak a little bit more towards that? You know, in my opinion, the younger generation is really going to be obviously it's that next generation of people, but it's going to be the people that kind of rebrand what we've typically seen, the fishing and hunting industry.
If we loop those back into one another, the outdoor industry and rebrand it, right, because for so many years it's kinda been. Seen as this negative area that we don't want to talk about, right. Where you're killing fish. Well, it's like, yeah, you're almost at the end of the day share. That's what you're doing, but you're also opening up the, the whatever type of Fisher you're dealing with too.
A lot of conservation, right? If people want to fish for striped bass off the coast of block island, people are going to pay money to go. No fish for striped bass. And in turn, we're going to conserve that fishery. Whereas if we just let it go to everyone else's own devices, that fishery would be gone.
Right. So there's a lot of different aspects to it. And I love the fact that you're focusing on the younger generation guys like myself. So what is it that you guys have kind of done, you know, to put pen to paper and really start pushing that?
Al Perkinson: Well, I think part of it is just as. Outlining, you know, the brand itself and thinking about the values of the brand, we really want to align those with the values of the gen Y gen Z crowd.
And so we've done, you know, I've got, I've got three sons who are in that crowd and, and Margaret has got two daughters That are in that age group. So we have a lot of real life experience with that crew, but you don't always know if they're typical of everybody else. And so, you know, I've seen a lot of fishing brands really speak to the baby boomers and older, but not a lot speak to, you know, the, the teens and the 20 something year olds.
And it's a it's, you know, that generation starting with millennials. Is completely different than the older generation. It's a huge change that has occurred. It's like when the industrial revolution came along the internet has created a social shift and the values and the way that they approach social constructs, the way they approach business, that is significantly different.
A lot of the older brands have found it really different. To speak that language because it is a different language. So competition is not as important. It's more about collaboration and inclusion, for example crows as these sort of heroes up on a pedestal. Not so interested in those you know, they're more interested and, you know, the real person behind that pro right.
That you're not. You have, have a family, you have kids, you have things you like to do besides championship fishing or whatever. So it's not, not so much about that. They're very much more about purpose than they are about profit and, and you know, being someone who's built purpose driven brands, right.
You know, that's exactly what, what they're looking for, but they also want brands that will help them figure out how to do something for themselves. So it's not just. You know, your brand is purpose driven, so I'm going to support your brand, but how can I participate and be part of that and make a contribution to that?
They're very much about inclusion. You know, the internet is all about all different walks of life, all different personalities and philosophies come together. And so they're very much about inclusion and not some exclusive little club. So anyway all of those Those ideas and philosophies have kind of gone in to creating the behemoth brand.
And then we've also pulled in, you know, 20 something year olds to build the brand. So our photographer just graduated from UT university of Texas. And he's, he's our photographer and our videographer just graduated from there as well. And she's our videographer. And then. You know, our whole cast of characters that we're using in our photo shoots and, you know, to be the face of the brand, they're all in their twenties, you know, and they're different colors and different, you know, male and female and so forth.
And so so that's, that's been a start but we also, you know, I think what a lot of those folks are enamored with is, you know, traveling, you know, adventure travel is huge and being able to go to places, but not just like travel to be a tourist, but travel and connect to those other cultures. So meeting the local people, understanding their community you know, not being sort of the great white savior of colonialism that was sort of the past generations mindset, but.
You know, equal to equal. And, and so we try to pull those ideas out. And so when we go to places, we want to talk to the locals and film the locals and, you know, eat meals with the locals and and understand their community and so forth. So,
Capt. Zach: yeah, Mexico is kind of a perfect example of that with I'm going to pronounce it wrong.
It X, X flats, or.
Al Perkinson: Yeah, X flats is a little lodge that a 20 something year old started and the town's called .
Capt. Zach: Okay. Very cool. Yeah. So now what does that really, it seems like you guys have kind of, that's almost having gone on YouTube and dug into a little bit of the backstory of the brand. That's kind of the start of really telling these stories and traveling around and kind of.
You know, in a way spreading the word of what you guys have to do, but in a very organic matter, right. And in Escalade, he has such a, I think was his name starts with a J I can't quite remember what his name was. Jesse, Jesse. All right. There we go. Jesse is very much so embedded into the population down at this clock, right?
He's not just some guy that's down there with a lodge. He's really making this whole culture around what the hero stands for, you know, and vice versa. So, you know, that seems like such a super component important component to what you guys are creating, but then there's this whole other thing where, you know, you're really putting your money where your mouth is, which I think a lot of brands do is they do green.
Right. And that's not something that you guys stand for. So having these sustainably sourced products like the, you know, your sunglasses, even the cases, right? The microfiber towels that you do to, you know, clean off the lenses, what has been the process there? Because even with COVID, there's been a huge shorten, the supply chain, you know, you're, you're focused on building brand and then also this, this whole thing of all right, how do we figure out how to make these things super sustainable?
Al Perkinson: Yeah. I mean, that's a whole, that's a whole, a whole nother deal. I mean, we, you know, starting in COVID was probably, you know, not the smartest thing we've ever done, but somehow we've fricking pulled it off and I don't know exactly how, but then starting in COVID and requiring that everything we do. Don sustainably was really insanity.
But you know, I feel like we've, you never, you never like get to the finish line on that stuff. You're constantly having to look at improving and looking at new things, new ways to make things new materials that are available and so forth. But you know, you start off with. You know, it has to kind of come from the top and you say, guys, we're going to do things sustainably because that's, what is the right thing to do?
And you know, the residue of our production is going to impact the places we love the most. So we've got to reduce the impact either by, by an offsets or by having a cleaner supply chain or, you know, or all of the above really. So, for example, we went out on our, on our case, our sunglass case, and we looked at all these different cases.
And the one that we landed with was a a leather, you know, it was a re it was a leather that was tanned in a sustainable way using sustainable materials. So it was a green case. And we said, Hey, you know, leather doesn't sound green, but if you think about it you know, it lasts for. So you don't have to buy one every year.
You can it'll last you for 10 years. It's made sustainably as a food. Byproduct is where the leather comes from. Sounds kind of gross, but that's what it is. And you know, if you ever do get rid of it, it's completely compostable and biodegradable. So it's a great story. The only problem with that we found was we thought it was.
You know, growing, growing cows and that whole meat industry is really bad for the environment. It's one of the big causes for cutting down the rainforest in Brazil, you know? And so by making basically that their supply chain more profitable, we're kind of supporting something that we don't believe in.
So we went to work looking for another one and what we came up with was we found some dudes down in Mexico who were taking cactus and turning it into leather and they. Was really sustainable because it doesn't take any water to grow cactus and then they dry it in the sun. So it didn't take any electricity.
You do that. And then they had followed like the reach you know, sustainability standards from Europe. So it was like, I don't know, 700 different things boxes. They have to check to be sustainable. So that's what we ended up with. And that's what we actually have now. So it's a process. You come up with something that's good, but then you got to, you know, you have.
Keep going to figure it out. But it's also something we found that consumers are really interested in. So some of our most successful social media posts are about the fact that, you know, our frames are made of plants or our cases made a cactus or whatever people think that's cool. And they really appreciate the impact that, that.
Capt. Zach: Yeah. It seems like, you know, with every business brand, whatever, even in life, like it's always a constant evolution, right? You kinda, you find something that works for a little bit and then hopefully, you know, within time you kind of grow and you figure out, well, this is a better way to do it. Or let's use this material in your lifetime of.
Brands. Right. And, and working with a lot of brands, what does that evolution look like? Right. Like when you start with a, and then you end up with where you are now, and then all of a sudden five years from now, but he was going to look relatively the same, but also completely different in a lot of ways.
So, you know, taking coast as a case study, looking at what you're doing now with , what does that evolution mean to creating a brand, but creating a brand that lasts.
Al Perkinson: Well, I think it's important, you know, not to get so locked in and to stay, stay flexible. It's also really important. To keep creating. And I think that's probably, I learned that, you know, way back in my sculpture classes and the art classes, that the great artist, they live longer than everybody else.
And the reason they do is because their brain is constantly changing and reinventing and figuring out new ways to do things. Business really works against you in that because you come up with something, it sells really well. And then everybody expects you to, just to keep doing the same thing over and over again.
I mean, you see it with music, you know, musical artists they'll come up with a hit song and they want to continue to evolve their music. But their fans say, no, we don't want you to, we don't just keep singing the same Jimmy Buffett. We want to keep, you want to hear Margaritaville a million times, man.
You're not allowed to go do something else. Well, brands aren't really. Different than that. But, but the thing is, I think you have to you have to listen to your consumers and I don't, I don't even like that word consumers, but listen to your tribe and allow your tribe in to help you create and recreate an.
With your brand and let them kind of help you take it where they want to take it. And so I think that's, that's super key. You have to stay open and you have to stay flexible. You can't be afraid to change and you can't, can't be afraid to, even though something's really working, you have to look three years down the road and say, Hmm, isn't gonna work forever.
What's next? So. I love the product line that Steve jobs came up with after he left apple for the first time it was called next. And that's kinda what he stood for. And he's definitely one of my business when people look up to in business and it's just continuing to change and innovate. And when you're a small company, that's a lot easier to do that than when you're a.
Huge company. So if you look at the fishing industry as a whole, you see that so many of the brands, probably 95% of them have been bought by a giant companies. And what that does is it squashes innovation because the big companies just, it has to be huge in order to work, but for a small company, it can be small and still.
You know, something that's going to generate business for us, it's going to work. And that innovation, that constant stream of creativity and new ideas, that's what keeps it vital, keeps it alive. And ultimately, you know, it keeps it clean.
Capt. Zach: Right now, do you think having that almost like an underdog mentality kind of helps play into that because in a lot of ways, you know, there are bigger brands out there.
There are bigger people that can, you know, drop more money on marketing and drop more money on this. And you know, what have you, but there's something to be said about having that underdog, like, you know, kind of scratching at the door. Always. They're always doing something new and innovative that it seems like, but he kind of follows.
That path, that ideology. Right. And I guess moving forward, like where do you see going in the next 5, 10, 20 years?
Al Perkinson: Well, I hope that we we can just continue to do a lot of the stuff that we are doing, especially on the environmental side, some of these plans that we have, the vision that we have for.
Really helping the saltwater flats around the country and freshwater flats as well. You know, this, we want to be very inclusive in all of this, but they envision having the young people come in and be a driving force behind. You know, calling for change and, and government and, you know, in society, that's going to allow us to continue to protect the the land that, and the water that we love so much.
And so two. You know, it's, it's a big, it's a big vision. It's a big idea. And to get the young people of the entire world to rise up and say, no, we're not going to allow extractive industries. We're not going to allow ocean trash. We're not going to allow the sand mining people to come and take all the beaches.
We're not going to allow people to cut down mangroves just so they can see the water better from their $5 million house. You know, we're not going to let the future. Really steal the future of the environment from the many, you know, it's just not fair and we're going to stand up and make it happen. So it takes a long time to build that.
You know, that, that tribe to build that momentum around that. So I think our evolution is going to be in scale and it's going to be, and the potent. Of our message and the power of our, of our tribe. But I think we'll also, you know, we'll add, we'll add new components that we don't even know about yet.
And new dimensions. I hope we can really bring in to the, to the outdoor world culture, you know, even if I'm the most avid fishermen in the world, I don't fish 12 hours a day. You know, seven days a week. I do other stuff too, and I enjoy other things. And so we love food and music and travel. And so, you know, bringing all those components in, I think is something that we'll, we'll work on really hard.
Capt. Zach: Love it. Love it. Awesome. Well, Hey, Al, it's been a real pleasure to be able to talk with you for the next, you know, for the last like 50 minutes or so, and learn all about and just getting to know you as a person, but you know, also the brand behind and the mentality behind it. So thanks for coming on the show.
And you know, I guess if you. I could leave off with, you know, where can people learn more about ? How can they get involved, buy a pair of sunglasses, support the community that you're you're growing? Or can they do that?
Al Perkinson: Yeah. The usual places, so our websites, but he was sunglasses.com. And then, you know, we have a pretty good following on Facebook and Instagram and YouTube right now.
So those are great places just to get in and, and learn about what's happening at the hero. And, and Hey, give me a call. You know, if you ever want to chat 4 6, 5, 9, 5, 409, 7, happy to talk, you know, the Alec video sunglasses.
Capt. Zach: Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you, Al. And we'll talk to you soon. All
Al Perkinson: right, Zach.
Capt. Zach: Thank you guys for sticking around towards the end here of the podcast. Hope you enjoyed the conversation that I had with Al such a genuine guy. You know, just really loves the ocean. Really loves the community that he's building and be B hero has some incredible content. Definitely suggest that you should go look at, I'll link it in the bio below.
But it's all about this, this guy who builds a bus and is traveling around, he built out the bus, he's building out a panga and trying to go fly fishing. And it's a really cool segment. Really cool series. I should say that you should definitely go check out anyways. Thanks again for tuning into the podcast.
Like I said, sign up for our newsletter, check us out on Instagram. Facebook, give us a like. Following, if you could give us a five-star review, I can't tell you how important those are to me and the growth of this show. The more views we get, the better the podcast becomes and the more people that can find it.
And it's all about algorithms and gobbledygook that I can get into, but they also make me feel good and I would appreciate it. So anyway, hope you guys enjoy every episode of along the keel and we have some exciting stuff coming down the pipe. So. Keep me, keep me posted on what you guys are doing out in the ocean.
And I will talk to you guys soon. So with that, make sure to work hard, do good, be incredible and have an awesome day.