Local designers can ride wave of surf wear’s success

If you’re a local designer looking for a way to get noticed, then a new apparel business may just be the answer to having your work promoted both here and overseas.  

So-Chlo and Cayman Made are two distinct clothing brands produced by Cayman Print Works, aimed at both the tourist market and local surfing fans. 

Owner Richie Franks has spent many months getting ready to show off his wares to the public. It is apparel with a twist, in that local designers are encouraged to submit their ideas, and if they fit with the brand, they may find their creations printed on T-shirts and available for sale. 

Franks explains how he got into the business, and how “inclusive branding” is giving local artists a chance to shine. 

What gave you the idea for starting your own brand? 

We actually have two brands: Cayman Made and So-Chlo. Cayman has such a large tourist industry, so I wanted to produce a quality shirt with unique designs that would appeal to visitors and really represent Cayman favorably, hence “Cayman Made.” 

We’ve had great feedback from customers. People love the softness of the material and the unique fun designs and prints. 

So-Chlo is a surf-wear brand. I’ve wanted to start a surf-wear brand since I was about 19 years old. The surf lifestyle has always mattered to me; in fact, I moved to Cayman as an owner and instructor of a kiteboarding school. When I left that and started a screen printing business, it seemed the perfect moment to combine everything together and start an authentic island surf-wear brand. Cayman has some of the best conditions for water sports, so it just made sense. 

How can local artists get involved? 

So-Chlo is very much an inclusive brand and we know there are lots of talented people who would love the opportunity to be involved with a surf-wear brand. Sometimes it’s just really difficult for aspiring artists to get a break, particularly when they’re starting out. We have an open design policy – if you have a shirt design that you submit and we print, we’ll give you credit as an artist, as well as commission from every shirt sale with your design on it. 

We’ve already committed to print a number of awesome designs from one local artist and we have another designer working on some more graphics. Each artist is very different in style, but their designs still fit in with So-Chlo as a brand. I hope that this will open up other opportunities for lots of talented people who are struggling to get their work out there in the market. 

For example, I designed the So-Chlo logo, and I knew what I wanted, but also knew it would be better with the input from others. So I asked lots of people for their thoughts. The S-and-C wave element of the logo was eventually finalized by Billie Bryan from Beethedesigner.com, a Caymanian designer, and I immediately knew that between us all, we had nailed it. It was important for me that a local brand was true to its roots and used local talent. This was a great example of how the concept of inclusiveness makes a product even better, and why the open invitation to designers is part of the brand ethos. 

What does So-Chlo stand for? 

The name So-Chlo was derived from Sodium Chloride, the compound that makes our sea salty. We’re on a small island surrounded by the stuff! The sea influences everything I do and is the reason I am here in Cayman, so I wanted to choose a name with a connection to the ocean. The “So-Cal” style of skate and surf clothing also had a big part to play in shaping the brand, and the name “So-Chlo” is also a nod and a wink to that culture. 

How are the shirts created? 

We endeavor to do as much as we can in-house: design, screen printing, tags, stickers, packaging… the lot! This is very unique for a surf-wear brand in a niche market where many products get outsourced. So-Chlo is a world-class artisan product that has the quality to compete with all of the big corporate surf and skate brands. Every So-Chlo shirt is hand-printed with a modern approach to traditional screen printing techniques in Cayman with hand-mixed inks. We then ship them out to the rest of the world. 

We’ve already supported a few local sporting events. So-Chlo printed all the shirts for the world-class TRIO kiteboarding competition, and has printed some for other grass-roots island events. 

I should mention that all our packaging material for international shipping is printed in-house and is 100 percent biodegradable. So you can take your shirt and throw all the packaging onto your compost pile. I believe the blend of products we have used to achieve this is an industry first and something I’m very proud of. As a kiteboarder, I’ve seen plenty of packaging trash floating around the sea and there really is no excuse for it, so I wanted to do my bit to keep us eco-friendly. 

Where can your products be purchased? 

We are currently looking at supplying through a limited number of quality outlets in George Town and Seven Mile Beach, and the So-Chlo store is open for business in Bodden Town. We also mail to anywhere in the world…even Cayman! 

Cayman Print Works and the So-Chlo shop are at 563 Bodden Town Road, between Water-Boyz and Chester’s restaurant. Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit the Facebook page under Sochlosurfwear, see caymanprintworks.com or So-Chlo.com. Customers and designers can also email [email protected], or call 938-3940. 

Richie-Franks

Owner Richie Franks in his Bodden Town store. – Photos: Vicki Wheaton

1 COMMENT

  1. Good on you bud-we print tees over in new zealand at colourworks printers.
    We have a buddy doing the same thing here for his clothing brand Mauao Mauao, started making tourist tees locally and now works on his brand from home and quit his job!

    T shirts are the best start out entrepreneur company!

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