"I was born in Newport Beach, grew up in Costa Mesa, CA surrounded by the massive surf apparel industry in my backyard. My grandfather owned a popular Men's and Women's clothing store for over 20 years before I was born. Ironically, I think he actually closed the store the year I was born. But I grew up listening to my family' horror stories, the success stories, the do's and the do nots of running a business, shared style advice, etc. I was always fascinated with the retail and clothing industry. I had friends who's parents had started successful clothing businesses, some who actually sold in my grandfathers store, I was always inspired by their story and the pursuit to success through following a simple passion. But I never envisioned starting a clothing company because of the saturation in the market and the difficulties in starting a business.
After graduating high school, I went on to play volleyball at The Ohio State University. There I actually studied Hotel and Restaurant Management. I got a great job out of college managing restaurants at a luxury resort and then at a luxury business hotel. The hours, no weekends, lack of a social and family life began to take a toll on me a little bit. I started to look for other opportunities. My Dad, actually both parents had always instilled in me the importance in giving back no matter what I did. I kind of ignored it growing up, but I always knew that I was happiest when I helped others, whether I was coaching volleyball, feeding the homeless on church trips, building shelters down in Tecate, or just giving a little money here and there to charity.
A couple summers ago, I made 1 hat for myself. It had the word SMILE on it. The word "SMILE" was so relevant in my life at the time in the hotel industry. It was a constant subject brought up in restaurant meetings and it was something we constantly reminded our staff to do. Sounds simple right? I really learned the importance and the impact a SMILE can have on a person, a guest, anyone! I wore the hat around that Summer, people loved it, they wanted to buy it, but I only had one. A good problem to have, my only solution was to make more!
So I made a short run of 50 hats to sell to friends and family. After making them and selling a few to friends, I kind of had a realization that this could be my opportunity to start a business and give back at the same time. But who would I give to? How could I build a revolutionary brand around this silly hat? I started to think what builds a REAL smile. After a days of thinking and a few hours of lost sleep, I narrowed down two factors to a clean and genuine smile: Confidence and Teeth. Many of us are very blessed with both, but not every one is. Even people here in The United States. I figured the group who needed a "Smile" the most were the youth who were in poverty, broken, homeless, unstable and lacking confidence. I always loved working with children and observing their development from my experience coaching volleyball, different volunteer work and of course helping my brothers grow up. But how would I help them out? Easy, Donate a portion of our sales to support organizations that we trust and are currently making a difference in the lives of these kids.
So from that time on I set out to start a brand that would inspire people to wear something for not only how it looks but for the potential impact it can have on someone else's life. A brand that has quality and well designed products with a purpose to build confidence in the at-risk youth starting with oral hygiene and eventually provide mentorship and work experience opportunities.
-Kyle Lawrence, Founder