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Start Your Business Entrepreneurs

Small Business Snapshot: Island Company

Small Business Snapshot: Island Company Credit: Pete Warrilow

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Spencer Antle, founder and creative director of Island Company, explains how this image represents his business.

Island Company is a premier lifestyle brand found exclusively at top resort destinations. We have won the world over with our extremely diverse range of products, which includes resort wear for men and women, swimwear, accessories, sun care and eyewear, all under the Island Company brand.

Island Company was not founded on commerce. It was founded to provide an outlet for people seeking escapism. I created Island Company after many years of traveling, seeking, and writing about the islands.

I first began my business on a vacation when my old girlfriend and I could not find a bikini that we liked. A decision to make bikinis for fun turned into something quite serious. We took a couple trips to Brazil and that is where our idea evolved into a 13-piece collection. We then drove around the United States selling bikinis from the trunk of our car. Beginning in 2008, we opened five retail stores in eighteen months. My simple idea of a swimsuit line quickly developed into a vision for a lifestyle brand.

To remain unique, we must introduce a diverse range of products. We just launched a new rum line to complement our escapist lifestyle, and are launching a line of rum cakes. This has been a strong contributor and further solidified our claim as one of the top lifestyle brands. As for the apparel, we are branching out into international markets, where I am confident that we will perform well. With access to many of the finest hotels in the southern hemisphere and the bars that surround them, we have lots of opportunities to introduce new product and ideas.  

Retail is not the easiest field to be playing in. Many companies are shutting doors and closing down. At Island Company we try to combat this problem by creating very complex stores. We have created a "Disney-esque" store platform where we try to take over virtually every sense: taste, touch, smell, sight and sound, to focus on the guest experience.

We currently have eight of our own retail stores located in high profile getaway spots, including Palm Beach, Naples, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Grand Cayman, Harbour Island and most recently, a 4,000 square-foot store within The Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale. Our retail stores are designed as entertainment venues, and our favorite challenge is expanding our brand through unique products and locations.

It is very difficult to have an experiential store design while trying to react to the consumer's growing need for discounted product while still maintaining a level of island authenticity.  So, by sticking to our entertainment model, we are not striving to be hyper-competitive in the revenue game, but rather to be innovative and different, having a store like no other.

The above picture invokes realistic relevance of the Island Company mantra: Quit Your Job. Buy A Ticket. Get A Tan. Fall In Love. Never Return. I am barefoot, toes in the sand and a drink in my hand – I am enjoying life. Most importantly, I am living out the island ideal, rooted in the need for people to believe, dream and move towards something better in their lives. A better life may just be an energy that we follow, or the search for a perfect beach, or even a place where we find rapture. It is more than just a "want." People must believe that they are going to "get away for the summer," and at Island Company it is our task to take your life and infuse it with our style. I am a barefoot tropical rebel and I am here to help lead you to the escape.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Fallon.