A group of young people plays volleyball at the beach. Two of the players, a long-haired man in red swim trunks and a short-haired man in light green swim trunks, are jumping up to the net, their hands outstretched to hit the mid-air volleyball. The four other players (three women in bikini tops and shorts and one man in yellow swim trunks) look on. In the background are the turquoise waters of the ocean and a pale, cloudy sky.
Companies like Slunks and Howler Brothers make clothing perfect for active days on the beach. — Getty Images/aldomurillo

Summer is right around the corner. Water sport rental shops are dusting off their jet skis and outdoor roller rinks are ready to pop up in major cities all over the country. However, some businesses, including the five listed below, have been celebrating the hottest season of the year during winter, spring, and autumn, too.

Little Hands Hawaii

With average ocean temperatures of 74 degrees year-round, the Hawaiian culture revolves around beach-going, surfing, and generally living like it’s summertime all the time. Unfortunately, most of the commercial sunscreens used by locals and tourists have proven to be detrimental to the coral reef. For this reason, the Aloha State actually banned the sale of any sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone or octinoxate in 2021. As a lifelong surfer, Michael Koenigs has seen these effects on the reef firsthand.

Little Hands Hawaii is actively combating this problem as a reef-safe mineral sunscreen brand made in Hawaii. Registered nurse Rosalyn Ardoin began this passion project in 2011 while pregnant, and her husband, Michael Koenigs, joined her in 2016. Combining their love for the ocean, nontoxic products, and ohana, Little Hands Hawaii calls itself “Hawaii's only local, plastic-free sunscreen made for the future of all little hands.”

All of the ingredients used in Little Hands products are natural, GMO-free, and natively grown and sourced. With a chemical-free guarantee, non-nano zinc oxide is the only active ingredient present in these formulas.

The Beach Picnic Company

After hosting many picnics for family and friends, Southern California native Madison Smetana realized she could do it professionally. So, the 20-something entrepreneur launched The Beach Picnic Company in October 2020. The pandemic provided a window of opportunity for a service like this, since people were craving activities to do outside of the home.

Ideally located in the Golden State, Smetana and her team set up picnics along the coast, in parks, in backyards, or on duffy boats. The company caters to proposals, birthdays, micro-weddings, and even brand launches. Some of the notable brands that have booked this service include Netflix, Google, Too Faced, Alo, and Mumu x Barbie. As The Beach Picnic Company has expanded, it’s also diversified its offerings to include elevated or larger-scale events at venues.

Dreamt up by two friends who started out screenprinting T-shirts in a garage, Howler Brothers came to fruition in 2011.

Slunks

A brand truly born on the beach, Slunks makes swimwear in Laguna Beach, California. Co-founder Chris Reames attributes the brand’s name to the endearing nickname older volleyball players on Victoria Beach called Reames and his friends. Slunks are a combination of swim trunks and compression shorts, achieving comfortability and versatility. They are also made out of 90% recycled materials, utilizing Repreve, a woven fiber made from plastic bottles.

First sported at the 2017 Manhattan Beach Six-Man volleyball tournament, Slunks officially opened up shop in 2018. The company primarily made men’s apparel in its early years but has since introduced women’s swimwear and activewear.

Slunks has positioned itself as a collaborative brand as well, creating unique designs alongside professional athletes and entertainers. Customization is also an option if a team needs a uniform.

Catherine Girard Surfboards

Florida-based transplant Catherine Girard is a surfboard shaper and a wavemaker in the male-dominated surf industry. Born and raised in Quebec, Canada, she later moved to Florida, where she became a lifeguard and fell in love with surfing. While living in Santa Barbara, California, Girard met local legendary shaper Gregg Tally at her workplace. Since 2020, she has moved back to Florida and made boards for herself and friends by custom order. She’s now selling in local surf shops like Gypsy Life Surf Shop and The Surf Stop.

Girard is in her mid-twenties and has a fierce entrepreneurial spirit. She never knew she could pair her athleticism and creativity, but now that she’s unlocked this skill, she is running with it. Her short-term goals include having her own warehouse, traveling between California and Florida, and to “support women to make them feel like they have a place in this industry as well.”

Howler Brothers

Dreamt up by two friends who started out screenprinting T-shirts in a garage, Howler Brothers came to fruition in 2011. Chase Heard and Andy Stepanian mashed up their shared interests of surfing, fishing, paddling, Western wear, and music to create this clothing line for men. The name “Howler Brothers” comes from the howler monkeys of Costa Rica, the sounds of which the founders often heard on their frequent surf trips to Central America.

This brand is considered a rarity in the successful list of surf brands since it has a rootsier, backwater sensibility. It draws inspiration from the Gulf of Mexico, East Coast vibes, and the great outdoors as a whole. Howler Brothers offer practical yet stylish, high-quality clothing for an active lifestyle, whether the need is board shorts for beach adventures or a lightweight Gaucho Snapshirt to don at a summertime honky-tonk. Every eclectic design is made from start to finish in Austin, Texas.

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