What song best describes your shop?
Last time you caught a shop lifter?
About a month ago, it was pretty funny. She applied for a job, left me her real name and phone number. When the cops pulled up to her house, she was wearing the dress she stole from the shop.
Your best snow / surf / skate / motocross day.
Best surf day: Uluwatu, Bali. Last August, be back there July 6th. Best snow day: Jackson Hole Wyoming, Winter of 2009
Having just opened its doors this past April, Drift is a new surf boutique in the Charleston area. After working for Volcom’s flagship store in Hawaii, Russell Robinson moved back to Charleston inspired by what he’d seen and took a chance on opening his first shop, Drift, a surf boutique born out of a love for the ocean, traveling, and fashion. Robinson has taken a few points of advice from his fiancé, who launched her own successful swim line Citrine.
Through all of the hard work of opening a store, the shop owner has been adamant about incorporating the lifestyle that inspired him to launch Drift in the first place. Excited to share his passion for surf and travel with customers and give them something to get energized about, Robinson has set the shop apart in the local market by offering a select mix of products sourced from travels in Hawaii and Bali. We caught up with the him recently to learn about the local market, future collaborations with key brands, and his thoughts on what makes or breaks a successful boutique shop.
What inspired you to open a store?
Seeing my fiancé be so successful as an entrepreneur really inspired me and gave me the confidence to open my own store. My passion for travel along with the surf and fashion industry really motivated me to build a life for myself that would allow me to travel and surf as much as possible and for me that was Drift. Being able to share my passions with customers and stoke them out is all the inspiration I need.
Experience before opening your own shop?
For the last 4 years I lived in Hawaii working for Volcom, managing there flagship store in Waikiki. While in Hawaii, my fiance and I also opened a boutique in Kailua Oahu, but have since sold it to move back home to Charleston and open Drift.
Where and how do you find most of your products? How have you tailored your inventory to better appeal to the demographic in your area?
We've found most of our products while in Hawaii and traveling in Bali. I've tailored my inventory by targeting women first and foremost. Almost all my brands on the women's side of the shop can only be found at Drift. This has given me an advantage by bringing new, island inspired quality gear into the shop.
How are you involved in your community?
At the moment I'm involved with the Live Live Rob foundation, which raises money for Cystic Fibrosis. I've done several silent auctions for various charities throughout the lowcountry and look forward to getting more involved and impacting the community in the future.
Percentage of inventory dedicated to men’s apparel?
30%, we roll pretty heavy in boardies, walkshorts, graphic tees/tanks and button ups for men. I'm really stoked on the vendors on the mens side, a lot of quality companies that you wont find any other retailers carrying in the area.
Percentage of inventory dedicated to junior’s apparel?
30%, the junior's side of the store has had the fastest sell through so far. I have a lot of Hawaii and Bali influenced designers that I work with as well as my fiance's swim line Citrine Swim. The Citrine swimsuits are killing it!
Are you sourcing more items locally or from places that you have traveled to?
We source a good amount locally like my fiancé's swim line Citrine Swim and her jewelry line TOR Jewelry and the locally handmade skateboards Palm Skateboards. I also get a lot of merchandise from Hawaii and Bali. Hawaii and Bali have been great to me and I love being able to bring in products from these amazing places.
Is your shop working closer with any particular brands?
I work closely with Palm Skateboards and hope to get customized Drift boards for the shop. I have great relationships with Hippytree, Roark, and Body Glove as well and would like to do some events at the shop with these brands in the future.
What are some things brands are doing to work with your shop?
I've been really stoked on how many brands will get involved with my social media and give shout outs. In this day and age, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are a crucial part of you media game and having some of your core brands support your shop is really cool.
Who are the top three reps that service your store and what makes them special?
Tyler Bell with Body Glove, Ian Perez with Herschel, and Zach Hauser with Roark and Capt. Fin. These guys are constantly keeping in touch and pop in the shop as much as possible. If I ever need anything, these guys are on it!
What is your overall impression of the local market over the past six months?
I'm stoked on the market. I think the economy is turning, and being so different than other retailers is helping me out.
What store (or multiple stores) are your closest competition?
To be honest, I think the other retailers that are in the same genre as Drift compliment each other nicely in the area.
Is your shop altering the way you buy for 2014?
No, I've had really good feedback about the brands I carry and the manner in which I receive new product regularly. If anything, I will order in larger quantities.