INTERVIEW WITH THE LEISURE COLLECTIVE’S USA SALES DIRECTOR, EDDIE DOYLE.

The Leisure Collective is the home of Otis Eyewear and Creatures of Leisure. The health of these two brands relies on a strong core retail base. We caught up with USA Sales Director, Eddie Doyle to learn about their “Support Your Local Surf Shop” initiative and how COVID-19 has impacted the brands.

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BTR: How has COVID-19 impacted the Leisure Collective? What adjustments have you made to your daily business?

ED: Like so many other companies across the globe, The Leisure Collective experienced pretty severe repercussions as a result of COVID-19. The flow of orders from our retail partners came to a screeching halt.  That left us with a proportionately small amount of DTC business and an occasional order from a retailer.  85% to 90% of our business is done through our retailers, so as they were forced to shut down, we had to make some immediate and drastic decisions to preserve the long term integrity of our organization.  Not only did we reduce the hours we were open, but we also had to reduce the hours our staff was able to work. While some of our team experienced a drastic reduction in hours, others were furloughed entirely until further notice.

BTR: Both Creatures of Leisure and Otis Eyewear are running “Support Your Local Surf Shop” programs to help during these uncertain times. Please explain how the support campaigns work for each brand and let us know how its been going? 

ED: Our business was built around traditional Mom & Pop Brick & Mortar retail stores. They’re fundamental to who we are. As a result, the “Support your Local Shop” was a meaningful and simple decision for us. Here’s how it works, customers who buy from the Creatures of Leisure and OTIS Eyewear websites have the ability to select a local retailer from a drop down menu during the checkout process. That retailer will then receive a generous percentage of that transaction.  If you can’t find your favorite local shop on our list, you also have the ability to enter in the store name and address of your favorite shop in the notes section and we’ll make sure to notify the retailer that they’ve been selected to receive a credit by a mutual fan.  So far, the program has been great.  The majority of all customers are acknowledging a local retailer during the checkout process, which will add some much needed revenue to these shops, whether they’re active retailers of ours or not.

BTR: Will you continue a surf shop support program when the pandemic is over?

ED: That is the plan.  TLC has been running the program in Australia for quite some time, so we are stoked to finally be able to launch it here in the US.

BTR: Are independent optical stores considered essential? Does Otis have business in the optical channels and has it helped keep the wheels turn? 

ED: OTIS does not have a full Rx range yet, but we are in a few Optom specific accounts.  Although not 100% certain, in the research we have done, routine eye care does not seem to be considered essential and Optometrists are waiting for the Phase 1 reopening that the rest of us are waiting on.

BTR: Creatures of Leisure is sold at surf shops around the globe. Please explain the importance of surf shops to the brand.

ED: As I mentioned earlier, the large majority of our business is done through our retail partners, most of which are small to medium-sized Surf Shops. The health of our organization is dependent upon a strong Core Retail base. This is why we have not only launched the “Support your Local Shop” program, but we’ve been adamant about not discounting our inline products on our Creatures and OTIS Websites, while so many other companies immediately went 20% , 30% and even 50% off on their own sites once the Stay at Home Order went into place.  For us, brand value and integrity begins with the stance we take on our own products. We cannot expect others to perceive our products as high quality and premium, if we don’t. If we want retailers and consumers to continue appreciate the products we supply, then we need to set the standard in terms of the value associated with those products. That starts with maintaining strong relationships and doing our best to establish a level playing field for all.

BTR: What advice do you have for the surf industry? 

ED: That is a great question.  Like so many out there, we have decades upon decades of experience in this industry and we absolutely love it.  Good, bad or ugly, we are so lucky to do what we do to earn a living.  As an Industry, we need to continue to support our core, local shops and be a part of our surf communities.  Local events and Boardriders Clubs are a great way to do that.  Most importantly, know your customer, make good products and be authentic. If you can do that, you can build a solid foundation for your business. And finally, Surf as much as possible!  Most beaches in San Diego just opened after a 3 week shut down.  I am planning to take advantage of this time to surf every day.  Once we are back to real life, dragging my ass out of bed an hour early to go surf will absolutely be a part of my daily routine.

Thanks for reaching out and giving us the opportunity to speak to your supporters.  We love Building the Revolution and everything it stands for.  Be Safe out there!

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