Sawyer Land & Sea Supply

Sawyer Land & Sea

Sawyer Land & Sea Supply

Owner:Stacey Forrester

Date Opened: April 2007

Number of Storefronts: 1

Location: Santa Cruz, Calif.

Editors Note: For the next month, TransWorld Business is bringing you a different shop profile every day as part of our 30 Shops in 30 Days series, presented by Bustin’ Boards. Keep an eye out all month for more shop spotlights from across the country.

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Sawyer Land & Sea Supply, opened in Santa Cruz in April, 2013, is the embodiment not of the brands it carries, but of the vision behind the store—a translation of personality and place that helps open its customers' eyes to one person's vision of the transformative power of the outdoors, of the waves, and of man's place where the land meets the sea. 

"The goal behind Sawyer was to create a space that didn't just support the outdoor industry, or surfing, or any one particular thing; it supports all the things that are important to me, in my life," explains Sawyer's Owner Stacy Forrester. "I think you can see that in the way the store operates, the things we carry, what we do. It all tells the story of the path I've chosen to pursue. People walk into Sawyer and they can see my heart."

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Drawing on a rich heritage built from 15 years as a rep in the outdoor industry, Forrester decided it was time to bring her passions together as the consumer evolved, and the industry failed to, leaving 30-something surfers, intent on living lives that marry surf, a love of the outdoors, and an appreciation for design and rich stories behind the objects they bring into their lives, without a hub. We caught up with Forrester to hear more about the shop and her vision.

Sawyer Land & Sea Supply Founder Stacey Forrester
Sawyer Land & Sea Supply Founder Stacey Forrester

Give us a little background on the inspiration for starting Sawyer Land & Sea Supply:

The initial drive was to curate all of the pieces of life I enjoy most. Surfing, camping,… Not necessarily to sell all the stuff you can find at just about any outdoor store, but to share all the things I love with my community. It's about the blending of those things to create an outdoor lifestyle-meets-surf-meets-general store. Bringing that all together into a single space was my goal, showcasing the flow of all of the treasures Santa Cruz has to offer- it's really about the lifestyle much more than the activities.

The back-story on the name of the shop is really cool- what inspired you about your grandfather and how does his legacy and love of adventure and the outdoors come through in what you do?

My grandfather was a logger- trade name Sawyer. He was an adventurous man that helped me become the athlete and outdoor person I am today. He taught me to fish, skip rocks, hunt, and chop wood, all things I believe a girl should know how to do. All this and more helped me to seek out adventure as well as create a love for the outdoors.

In addition, when you walk into Sawyer you will see my love for wood. Wood is shelter. Wood brings us comfort and warmth. Again this link goes back to my grandfather, a Sawyer who braved the outdoor elements and dangers of doing such a laborious trade.

You were in the outdoor industry for years- what brands did you work with? 

I spent thirteen years working as a rep for Merrell footwear. Before Merrell, I represented Icebreaker, Timex, PowerBar, Ultimate Direction, Timberland, and… The list goes on. Altogether, fifteen years of my time has been devoted to the outdoor industry, so Sawyer has definitely been a shift in focus. I'm still repping the outdoor lifestyle, but my now my sights are really set on the heart and soul of what that means.

What lessons did you take away from observing other retailers as a rep and how did that help translate into Sawyer's niche?

The goal behind Sawyer was to create a space that didn't just support the outdoor industry, or surfing, or any one particular thing; it supports all the things that are important to me, in my life. I think you can see that in the way the store operates, the things we carry, what we do. It all tells the story of the path I've chosen to pursue. People walk into Sawyer and they can see my heart. It's so much different than being a rep for some company- I'm representing my own soul here. You can see when a real human being is behind a company. I've made sure that every single one of my customers knows that they are welcome, that I personally care about them and their happiness. I think that retailers often forget that their customer is their livelihood, and I don't- I can't. Sawyer is inclusive; it's for everybody. Your customers are so much a part of your success, that's why I do the in-store events, and why I support my community and customers: I want everyone to be invited to live this dream with me.

How would you describe Sawyer and what makes it unique?

We are a mix…we aren't a surf shop or an outdoor shop…we are telling the story of an active ocean living lifestyle. Another point of difference is that Sawyer is set up as a boutique, but selling outdoor and surf products, I find that incredibly appealing. One of the most important features to me is all of the wood. When you walk into the shop, you can immediately see how much I love being surrounded by that aesthetic. Wood, whether it's the roof overhead or the fire crackling, I feel like it really gives life to a space. Our demographic is another thing I think sets us apart: we're not going after the surfing youth, but we're going after the 30+ range. We're also featuring quality over quantity or trends, which is definitely what speaks to my particular clientele. We are more cabin than we are locker room.

What have been some of your milestones since opening in April 2013? 

The very first milestone was finally opening the store. Making it through the first year was another huge one, and it truly could not have been done without the outpouting of local support I've received. All throughout the year, the thing that has inspired me most is seeing Sawyer hats, sweatshirts and tees around the community. I am humbled wherever I see it. The next big milestone for us is going to be the upcoming launch of the Sawyer brand of clothing.

Sawyer Land & Sea Supply How have you worked to grow the store and its reach? 

In store monthly events, social media, and the selling of our Sawyer goods.

Of course, there's a lot to be said for being interviewed for an upcoming issue of Japan's Blue Magazine, being in The San Francisco Chronicle, and being featured on various blogs. I didn't exactly expect it all, but the reach is expanding in quite a few ways.

Digging the land and sea supply thing- how did you land on these product categories?

Thanks! That was simple: it's just the Santa Cruz lifestyle. The whole idea was to bridge the space between land and sea living. We supply goods for life. 

Tell us about your product mix:

The goal is to define what the Santa Cruz life is all about. Our top shelf products are definitely our surfboards, belly boards, and hand planes. The featured makers of the moment are Tim Folkert of Migration Surfboards, Christine Brailsford of Furrow Surfcraft, Manuel Caro of Mandala Surfboards, Travis Reynolds, and Ashley Lloyd. The absolute cream-of-the-crop item at Sawyer would be our custom-made wetsuits by Axxe. You will find quality apparel, car camping and surfing essentials from brands like ZEAL Optics, Patagonia, SLVDR, Sundry, Topo Designs, Strawfoot, Snow Peak, Bio Lite, Alternative Apparel, Beyond Yoga, Kleterworks, books, art, etc. 

And, as mentioned before, something I'm super excited about is our upcoming brand launch! The storefront was phase one, and our line is the second phase. Think timeless pieces with a dialed fit, made specifically for your life in and out of doors. Artisanal chambray shirts, swim shorts that are not only the right look but also provide comfort while paddling, and stay put even after that epic fall… It's all going to be really unique, because it will be catered to coastal living. Our seasons are different here, and I know how much we need good, weather-appropriate, year-round sweatshirts and basics. I believe strongly in quality, so these are going to be items that are an investment toward your wardrobe and lifestyle, rather than budget pieces that are going to fray or fall apart in a month. The new line is the epitome of what Sawyer stands for: comfort, practicality, beauty, timelessness, and pure happiness.

Three top lessons you've learned:

My initial thought is that I am still learning! The toughest thing I've taken on is just finding the balance between work and life. This is all a manifestation of my life, so being able to walk between those two worlds is something I'm working on. I've also been learning about holding on. There are some days when all of this feels really… Big. The idea of giving up can be appealing sometimes, but the more I hold on, the more reward I get. And should this all go away? Hopefully it doesn't of course, but if it does, I have learned that my community is right here. I've met so many friends I'm going to have for the rest of my life, all because of that roll-up door. Allowing these people into my world, and in turn being invited into theirs, has taught me how to be vulnerable. As someone who has always been fairly introverted, that's a huge, beautiful thing. You really just have to put everything you have into it. You have to be it.