Aiden and Alex from Relic are as genuine as they come, taking a true hands on approach to all aspects of their business. What started as a campsite brainstorming session is now an inclusive, creative, all hands on deck brand creating long lasting effects, from eye-catching apparel designs and oyster filtered waters to beach cleanup stations along the east coast. Tune in to hear how the creative genius of Aiden and Alex took a good idea and brought it to reality!
Brothers Aiden and Alex grew up on the east coast, surfing and fishing with their father. Throughout the years they observed the changes in their familiar waterways, and unfortunately not all were positive changes. As time passed, the waters they grew up recreating on became dirtier and dirtier and they knew that the less appealing color of the water wasn’t the only problem. Habitat of crucial species was at risk and the declining purity of the water was starting to affect the surrounding communities, so they decided to take action. The idea started on a backpacking trip, where the men set up a makeshift camp table and started brainstorming. Aiden began to draw scenes they were familiar with, fish species they regularly encountered on their oceanic outings, and they figured other people could connect with the images as well. They drew and brainstormed and wrote down tentative business plans and decided on Relic, an apparel company who would use profit money to fund projects that would clean the waterways, specifically by growing and releasing oysters into public waters. As soon as they got back from their backpacking trip they hit the ground running and haven’t looked back.
Hands to the Ground
Aiden and Alex took a hands-on approach to every part of their brand from the very beginning. They had a lot to learn about the process of getting a business started but they had a few designs and a great idea. They started by going to Home Depot and purchasing some items they needed, taking their supplies back home to the family’s old horse barn, and building a screen press. They printed a few of their designs and took them to a craft fair where they had great success, both monetarily and talking to the public and receiving helpful feedback on their idea.
“We would go and sell what we had and collect a lot of feedback on what we were doing… It was an extremely powerful sales experience because we were able to talk to every customer that we sold a shirt to and collect their feedback. It sort of steered us in the direction of what people like.”
Once they got the ball rolling creating and selling shirts, they got the opportunity to jump on the sustainability side of the business, leaning heavily into their connections. In high school, Alex volunteered with Moriches Bay, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve water quality through growing and releasing oysters and planting eelgrass. One oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day and through their partnership with Moriches Bay, Relic vows to plant 5 oysters for every shirt sold, which means that through buying one shirt from Relic, the conscious buyer obtains one well made, dashing shirt and filters 250 gallons of water on the Atlantic coast. The guys began by making financial contributions and funding the Moriches Bay projects, but soon strongly desired to get their hands dirty and physically help plant the oysters themselves.
“Actually growing them with [our] own hands really connected us with our mission and it made a big difference, I think, for our entire team, it made us realize how strong the sustainability [aspect] is within our brand.”
Moriches Bay granted Relic their own flupsy, a floating upweller system designed to host growing oysters until they are ready to be released into open waters. The system keeps the oysters protected from predation as they grow so that they are healthy and strong once they are big enough to be released. Alex and Aiden are men with big ideas and the enthusiasm and dedication to bring their ideas to fruition.
Lead by Example
Apparel is a creative banner for the Relic team, the part of the brand that gets people’s attention and brings them in to learn more about the mission to improve coastal ecosystems. The Relic team believes in everyone doing their part to keep the spots where we all recreate healthy and clean. In addition to water quality restoration projects, Relic headways a beach cleanup program that puts a stewardship spin on the everyday beachgoer’s experience . The guys have designed a beach cleanup station that provides beachfronts with baskets and trash cans. The premise is for beachgoers to grab a basket before they head out on their walk or jog, fill it with any trash they see along their way, and empty the contents of their basket into the trash can once they come back at the end of the day. Relic works with municipalities to arrange garbage pickup from these locations regularly, so that the stations become part of normal city maintenance. They currently have over 20 active stations along the coast of Long Island that see success and they are communicating with different cities and counties to implement more. The cleanup stations are not only for the benefit of the environment, they are a way to bring different stakeholders like cities, counties, and the public together for the betterment of their coastlines.
“We view [it] as kind of like a model that might have some impact, and it might be able to…generate a lot of passive for removal of trash… so over time, as we continue to grow this, we view it as something greater than just a cleanup station, but this collaborative effort between these different groups.”
The Relic team does a great job of involving those who live and recreate on the coastline in the betterment of the ecosystem. From buying a shirt to volunteering on an oyster planting project, or simply picking up a basket and filling it with trash on their morning walk, Relic reminds us that it is our responsibility to keep these spaces clean. Although it may seem like a daunting task, there are many ways for people to get involved. Purchasing one shirt from Relic ends up with a good quality shirt in the closet and clean, filtered waterways for years to come.
Into the Future
Relic is a company that produces long lasting effects, from quality clothing with eye-catching designs to clean coastlines and effectively filtered waterways. Aiden and Alex have taken a simple idea and turned it into an inclusive, beneficial brand with years of restoration ahead of them. To find out more about Relic and to purchase a t-shirt, visit www.relic-design.com and keep up with their new designs and projects on their social media pages using the handle @relic_sustainability.