Staff Chat with Chris Lynch
By Trey Leslie I Everyday California Head Writer & Resident DJ
You’ve read the origin story. You’ve seen the store. You’ve gone on the adventure.
Or maybe you’ve done none of these things and you’re not sure what’s going on.
Either way, Chris Lynch is one-half of the masterminds behind Everyday California. He’s been building this business since the beginning, and is largely responsible for the growth and rising popularity of our apparel.
In many ways, he’s made it: he’s a successful entrepreneur running a business that’s been featured on Inc 5000's fastest growing companies, and has no plans of stopping that growth.
Christopher David Lynch
Hometown: Modesto, CA
Nickname: The Body
He’s also my boss, and that means I have the rare privilege of asking him questions (which I frequently do) anytime he walks past me (which, for some reason, is becoming less and less frequent)
So, the other day I forced him into a corner and asked some questions, regarding what it’s like and what it takes to be an entrepreneur in today’s business environment, and also what's new with Everyday California.
(Of course, I already know the answers to most of these questions, but I wanted to get them straight from the source, just for you.)
First, some idle chat:
Obviously, we live and work right next to the ocean. Have you always been a water guy?
My mom was one of the first ever female Navy Salvage divers and she had me in the water before I could even walk.
I can still remember learning how to scuba dive at the bottom of our pool and driving from Modesto, where I grew up, over to Santa Cruz to learn how to surf, skipping school days to go to the lake and wakeboard. I’ve always loved the water and couldn’t imagine myself living without it.
As a new business, how did things kick off?
At first, Everyday California was just a few guys with a pick-up truck, a couple of kayaks, and a cell phone. We knew, however, that we wanted to create something much bigger—we wanted to build a lifestyle brand based around adventure and the spirit of California. We kicked things off with kayak tours and board rentals and started producing our first t-shirts and hats in 2012.
We continued to expand our clothing line annually and in 2015 even started to get our products into the international market. That same year, we were recognized on Inc. Magazine’s List of 5000 Fastest Growing company, moved into a bigger retail space and built out our apparel and adventure business.
People have a lot of ideas about what it’s like to start a business. Has it been easy?
Well, no. I think that every entrepreneur goes through tough times, whether their business is a fledgling startup or a flourishing enterprise.
Since our company is in such a seasonal business, we were always struggling in the winter during the first few years.
Were there any moments when it felt like things might crash?
The winter of 2012. Our cash flow was so low that we almost couldn’t make payroll and really had to concentrate on every dollar coming in the door.
We learned the hard way that we have to prepare for the bad times by capitalizing and saving during our best months. And, it also led us to extending our brand into apparel and accessories, which put us in this exciting process of constant innovation.
What does innovation mean for Everyday California in 2018?
There's been a lot of talk about sustainability in our office. Our adventure tours are completely natural: all manpower, wild marine life, no motorboats or cages, so we're really focused on making clothing to reflect that idea.
We recently partnered with 1% For The Planet, which gives us the opportunity to responsibly donate one percent of every dollar we earn into programs that preserve and protect the environment.
There's a really cool program we're supporting called GreenWave. It's a non-profit that works with a new generation of ocean farmers and sustainably grows and harvests seaweed and shellfish, while negating the high carbon levels in our oceans. Their crops are used for food, fertilizer, and animal feed. It's a really cool idea, they were even featured on 60 Minutes.
What's next in apparel?
There's a few new products in the mix. One is a t-shirt inspired by GreenWave - we found a fabric that's made from a blend of seaweed and organic cotton. It's ridiculously soft, made from renewable resources, and produced in a closed loop production center, so there's no chemical waste.
We're also in the process of making our best pair of board shorts yet. They're designed for land and sea, so you can do just about anything in them, like workout or go for a run and then jump straight into the ocean and surf. We've made board shorts in the past, but these ones are going to be next level.
Is there an X factor to creating a successful business?
Absolutely. One of the most important aspects of a modern company is providing value beyond the product.
We're a lifestyle brand, so the goal is to be more than just clothing and tours. We've redefined our blog and marketing practices to address all things California, with a big focus on the environment and sustainable practices. The goal is to be a platform people look to that fully embodies the best qualities of the Golden State.
Did you ever think from your humble beginnings that you’d end up where you are today?
I am and have always been an optimistic dreamer. When I came in, I said right away, “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to build a brand, and we’re going to be huge.”
And it’s crazy, because it’s actually starting to happen. We’re actually selling our apparel in other countries, and we’re starting to build other stores. It’s insane, it’s unbelievable.
Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?
You could really start tomorrow, come up with your idea and go for it.
The playing field has been leveled because of the internet and all the technology available out there for every entrepreneur, every person out there. It’s a great time to start a business.
What does it take?
Courage. With the online world, you can compete. There’s new ways to raise money, to get started, if you have a great idea, go for it.
Dude, let's start a business