Tennberg and Spencer are recalling their previous careers in the Orange County surf industry and I can sense their reminiscing starting to arc. Simultaneously the onshore windflow is blowing in some Pacific Ocean salt air with a hint of plumera from a budding tree out the front door. That smell, the personification of the lure of Hawai‘i. G-Bo begins telling me about the start of The Pacific Project. While at Hurley and DC, the two would talk about how they’ve always wanted to go back to Hawai‘i. Both of their wives, natives to O‘ahu, shared the sentiment. But, what would they do? There aren’t any international surf brands based in Hawai‘i. While at DC, the parent company, Quiksilver, was going through tough financial times. They had taken on some bad investments and were clouded with debt. To consolidate costs, they wanted to move US design teams to France and keep everything under one roof. G-Bo and Kyle had opportunities to stay with the company and move to France or leave and move back home. The two ultimately couldn’t resist the lure of their home state and moved back to Hawai‘i. With their combined 15+ years of experience, they started The Pacific Project: a full service creative agency specializing in brand development, apparel design and sourcing.
Across the street, at Ke Iki beach, occasionally a sandbar forms and a dredging shorebreak crashes over and over. That shorebreak is the muse of renowned ocean photographer Clark Little. You’ve seen his amazing imagery of ocean waves and ocean wild life. Little lives up the street from the house we are sitting at and happened to be the first client of The Pacific Project. Clark was an established name and artist, but G-Bo and Kyle thought he could be doing more to capitalize on his hard work. They designed a full collection of apparel and accessories for Little’s gallery in Haleiwa, creating and sourcing shirts, hats, slippers and more which has been doing very well for Clark. The product offering found a new market of Clark’s fans that could enjoy an easy-to-pack-home t-shirt or an instantly wearable hat. The Pacific Project has built similar offerings for T&C Surf, HE>I and Aloha Exchange.
There’s a garment factory in the industrial area of Kalihi, the western edge of Honolulu, near the airport. In it’s 1970s glory days, it produced 30,000 aloha shirts a month for brands such as Reyn Spooner and Liberty House. That factory hasn’t produced those numbers in years, as local brands began moving manufacturing offshore to chase lower price points. This local supply chain once existed and produced profitable made in Hawai‘i apparel. With their sourcing background, The Pacific Project sniffed out this supply chain and started putting some of the pieces back together. They found a fabric maker, a pattern maker and started assembling. They found a client that wanted to pursue a made in Hawai‘i collection, Aloha Beach Club of San Diego with roots in Hawai‘i. While they aren’t at the 30,000 pieces a month number yet, they have built a capsule collection for Aloha Beach Club comprised of an aloha shirt, boardshorts, walk shorts, chino, a blazer and two oxford button up woven shirts; all of it made in Hawai‘i. “Our goal with this aspect of our business is to breath new life into what was once a thriving part of Hawai‘i’s economy. It will take time, and hard work, but the rewards are heartfelt,” shares G-Bo.
It’s this love for Hawai‘i that motivates and creatively pushes The Pacific Project as they continue to expand their portfolio of local companies who want a refined touch to their brand. Gabriel and Kyle took a chance coming back home and were rewarded with fulfilling work and a client base that trusts their experience and curated perspective. The swells continue to crash outside and we start talking about what the next storm is doing and the endless amount of surf this winter. We talk about surfboards and a lot about surfing. I start to realize another reason they moved back home and another source of creative energy.