We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Foster and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrew, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Our start began with the introduction to saltwater fishing. I grew up west of San Antonio, Texas, and fished Medina lake fairly regularly until I moved to Corpus Christi, Texas for college. While in school, I had gotten away from the pastimes that made me happy as a child. It wasn’t until the later part of 2014 when one of my best friends from college and my girlfriend at the time decided to fish Corpus Christi Bay before we finished school and moved away. Those late summer fishing trips would pave the way to what is now a business that I am so proud of, Reel Sportswear. Back in 2014, I was a self-taught graphic designer and front-end developer. I had received my degree in marketing but was trying to make a living freelancing for various local businesses, musicians, and non-profits. I really didn’t have any money to speak of, just enough to pay the bills and pay for the programs I used to do my work. My friends and I started fishing on the weekends, hooked by the endless pursuit of the “big catch”. Most of our fishing equipment and clothing was old or cheap. We would buy the cheapest fishing shirts/shorts from Academy because we would spend our money on beer. We would fish all day, crack open a cold beverage, and fish under the lights well into the night. It quickly became an obsession and just like that, every weekend was centered around the rod & reel. At some point, the new addiction bled into the work week and I would find myself designing tee shirts and caps with different fish patterns. About a month later, we were shopping tee shirt manufacturers and screen printing shops. We literally started the business with a thousand bucks and an idea. A year later we had sold $30k in fishing tee shirts and one cap style.
What should our readers know about your business?
What separates Reel Sportswear from our competitors is the attention to detail and work ethic. We have worked so hard since inception to build a brand that we are proud to work for. With very little manpower and a mountain to move at every show, product launch, or online sale, I believe it is those little details that make the difference. These details often cost us hours of extra time and easily get overlooked but subconsciously contribute to the atmosphere and the brand experience. What little success we have achieved so far is fully contributed to dedication and work ethic. We started this adventure without any knowledge of the textile/apparel manufacturing industry and have maneuvered through the years on straightforward, boots on the ground work-ethic and research. Working weekends, nights, 12-14 hour days. There is no compromise, if you want it – you have to go get it. I want the world to know, that we are here. We are very proud of our company, our style, and our customers. Hopefully one day, I can look back at the journey we have had building Reel Sportswear and can help others build their dream.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have so many… First and foremost I am so thankful for the thousands of customers that have supported us throughout the years. Those who have believed in our product and our mission since day one. We seriously couldn’t have done this without them. Secondly, I am extremely grateful for our brand ambassadors. These guys (fishing guides) have believed in me and the brand even when we had very little to offer. They work the craziest hours and could have chosen any brand to support. I am extremely proud to have each of them on our program and am so thankful for their mentorship and knowledge. Finally, my family and friends. My wife Sarah is my rock. She has put up with all the insane ideas, stressful moments, and crazy event schedules for years now without complaint. Each year one of the busiest events lands on her birthday. She has always shown up with a smile on her face and works year after year. Our family and friends have supported us through this entire adventure. Without their support, mentorship, and encouragement we would be lost.
Adam Nesloney Jay Watkins Jr.