Jetty’s new flagship store opens this weekend, celebrating the rise of the brand
This weekend, Jetty, the local apparel company that has become a major player in the surf and outdoor market across the country while helping to transform the LBI surf scene, will celebrate the grand opening of its new location. at 176 East Bay Ave. in Manahawkin.
When Jetty grew from an idea to a full-fledged t-shirt company in 2003, its “head office” was the founders’ collective homes as well as a garage used for screen printing at Cedar Run.
CEO Jeremy DeFilippis and CMO Cory Higgins, original founders of Jetty along with three other friends who have since moved on, remember it well.
“Bill McLennan, who started as a history teacher at Southern Regional, was one of the original founders. His father had taught screen printing at Southern, so there was an inherent interest. We were printing on our own clothes and learning to screen print a year or two after starting the business,” DeFilippis recalls.
McLennan would later sell his share of Jetty but, in a full circle move, was hired in 2018 and continues to run the company’s printing business.
In 2004 Jetty purchased their own screen printing presses, which were housed in the garage of Skye Gibson, another original founder since. Its next headquarters came in 2008, a 20-by-20-foot shared office above Beach Haven Auto Parts in Ship Bottom.
“During these years, I moved to different apartments around the island. My bedroom always ended up being our execution center,” DeFillipis said with a laugh.
This is also the year they brought in investment partners Paul and Craig Clifford of Beach Haven. Craig’s son, John Clifford, came to help with some artwork. After three years of turmoil, John Clifford had expanded the range to 800 pieces. Today, he is a partner and creative director of Jetty.
They finally brought it all together under one roof in 2010 when they moved to a warehouse on Route 539 in Little Egg Harbor. When they got past that, they moved to a bigger unit in the same light industrial complex. It was there that they rallied the community, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, and led the local Unite + Rebuild relief effort in the aftermath of Super Hurricane Sandy.
The next move was a big one. They rented several units connected to Route 9 in Manahawkin which became Southern Ocean County’s largest screen printing operation with offices and their first flagship store. This is where they grew to some 40 employees, selling to 400 retailers across North America with a thriving online business.
This Friday and Saturday, the new retail and event space on East Bay Avenue will be a hive of activity as they first welcome the public to see how they brought their creativity and passion for the outdoors at the former Taylor Rental site in the heart of Manahawkin’s small business district. They bought the building last year, and a host of their local business friends have played a huge part in the transformation. The front of this building is the new 1,600 square foot flagship store, where they tell their stories of waves, exploring mountains, hunting fish and sunsets in the glow of the lifestyle and friendships that surround it. The side yard is sprawling, leaving plenty of room for large-scale events.
“It’s a really amazing time for us at Jetty,” Higgins said. “As we reflect on the past two decades and how we got here, we are opening up an exciting new space to the public in the same neighborhood where it all began. I can’t wait to see all the friends we’ve made along this journey together in one place.
The festivities begin with Friday’s ribbon cutting with the South Ocean County Chamber of Commerce and Stafford Township Mayor Gregory E. Myhre at 9:30 a.m. The store officially opens at 10 a.m. Sunny Rae’s will be providing food for purchase along with complimentary Jetty Session and Tropical Storm wine. Regional folk reggae artist Mike Pinto will play from 4-6 p.m.
Sunday will offer a festive brunch by Sunny Rae’s from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with free Bloody Marys and mimosas by LBI Distilling Co. and a raw bar by Barnegat Oyster Collective. Local acoustic bluesman The Fourth Son will play at 11 a.m., and Jason Booth and Ted Hammock will take over at 2 p.m. The store closes at 8 p.m. both days.
“The new building represents the journey the brand has been on over the last 20 years, designing and building things with our own hands and pouring our sweat and tears into something that we truly believe in. The entire Jetty brand is built around drawing your own line, DIY, strong work ethic, while dedicating time to the things that inspire us,” said John Clifford.
Entrants will have a chance to win a new Jetty x Priority Bicycles custom beach cruiser, one of 50 that will be available through the New York-based independent bike maker later in April.
The flagship store offers for display and sale the full line of Jetty men’s, women’s and youth apparel: T-shirts, sweatshirts, outerwear, swim shorts, dresses, pants, flannels, rompers, shorts , hats and other outfits that have become so popular around the area. While the store may have a few one-off partnerships with like-minded brands, like beach cruiser Jetty x Priority Coast, it won’t carry hard goods, encouraging customers to support area retailers. who have supported them, such as Farias, The Shack Board Shop, Surf Unlimited, Sink ‘R Swim, Viking Outfitters and Ron Jon Surf Shop.
“It’s been a very long, hard road so far,” DeFilippis said. “Until a few years ago, Cory and I moonlighted as bartenders. A year ago, I was still running my own tax preparation business on the side. But Jetty has grown significantly over the past two years. And seeing the new site open is something we’re really proud of.
“There was no plan for what we did. We saw a surf and outdoor industry completely dominated by the west coast and created what we wanted to see. There was no model for that, coming from the East Coast. We survived a recession, a major shift in the retail landscape, and a pandemic. We’ve taken everything we learned in those early days and applied it over the past few years. We have the right people in our organization and we are extremely grateful to represent this community.
The store will highlight a rotating roster of artists, the first of which is photographer Britton Spark (@couchchronicles) of Harvey Cedars and his work “The Docks Project”, which documents the Barnegat Light commercial fishing industry. A t-shirt made in collaboration with Spark will be sold as a fundraiser for the non-profit group Fishadelphia, furthering Jetty’s commitment to those who love and live in local waters.
Jetty has become widely known in the community and beyond due to its reach. The Jetty Rock Foundation, the charitable arm of the company, sponsors a project to help recycle oysters in New Jersey to build new oyster reefs and awards scholarships to area high school students. To date, the foundation has donated more than $1.7 million to families and environmental initiatives. Every year they host the Jetty Clam Jam and Coquina Jam surf contests, the Arctic Outreach and the HopSauce festival.
In addition to printing their own clothing locally, their subsidiary, Jetty Ink, has grown into the region’s largest independent screen printing facility. Jetty Ink will continue to operate and have a showroom at the company’s former location at 509 North Main St. in Manahawkin.