Loggerhead Apparel recently donated $1,000 to the South Eastern Wildlife and Environment Education (SEWEE) Association to help track sea turtle nests on Cape Island.
The island, off the coast of McClellanville, is the largest nesting ground north of Florida for loggerhead turtles. More than 900 nests have been reported there since May.
The money was used to buy equipment, including boat cleats, wire and PVC piping, for SEWEE and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge volunteers and staff members to use.
When Hurricane Irene swept through the area last year, the island was cut into three pieces, making the job of tracking turtle nests more difficult, according to SEWEE executive director Karen Beshears.
The donation is part of a commitment to sea turtles and conservation by Loggerhead Apparel founders Zac and Sara Painter.
The Painters are SEWEE volunteers and the company has sponsored the association’s annual oyster roast fundraiser for the past few years.
“We just have that personal bond with them,” Zac said.
The idea for Loggerhead Apparel began in 2009 when the Painters couldn’t find a polo shirt made of American fabric and manufactured in the United States.
The Painters spent 2010 designing shirts, coming up with a business plan, and reaching out to vendors.
The company name came from the Painters’ belief that U.S. manufacturing, like loggerhead turtles, was an “endangered species.”
On Jan. 31, 2011, Loggerhead Apparel’s website went live. Within a week, shirts were being sold in three stores; that number has grown to more than 50.
“From dirt to shirt,” every aspect of production is in the United States, mostly in South Carolina.
“The idea is to positively impact your local economy and stimulate the U.S. economy,” Zac said.
The turtle theme attracts a lot of people, but not all.
“Some people don’t care that it’s turtles, they care it’s made in the United States,” Zac said. “Others don’t care it’s made in the United States, they care about the turtles.”
Sara, a native of Awendaw, and Zac, a native of Spartanburg, found inspiration in color names from their home state. Shirts are Bulls Bay or Haint blue, Sullivan’s sea grass green or Edisto black. The next color to debut will be Fort Moultrie blue, a shade that reportedly inspired the color on the state flag.
“All of our colors tie back into something special about South Carolina,” Zac said.
Along with shirts, Loggerhead Apparel will start selling hats and belts in August, and the Painters are designing new T-shirts, button-down shirts and khaki shorts to sell in the future.
Ten percent of all Loggerhead Apparel’s sales are donated to charity.
Since January 2011, the Painters have given more than $15,000 to sea turtle conservation groups.
“[People] are wearing more than a shirt with a logo on it, they’re wearing a story,” Zac said.
Loggerhead Apparel items are available locally at Black Mingo in Georgetown, and Harbor Specialties in Pawleys Island.
For more information go to www.loggerheadapparel.com.
By Chris Sokoloski
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