A few weeks back we featured the up and coming belt company out of Rhode Island, Wind & Waves. Specializing in Stirling silver plated belt buckles made in Rhode Island, and leather work done in Ohio, these belts are proudly a Made-In-America product. Today we’re back with an interview with one of the co-founding brothers of the company, Dave Gauntlett. Dave spoke with us about his background on the water, the inspiration behind Wind & Waves and the process behind starting a company.
Where did the initial idea for Wind & Waves come from? What’s your background before Wind & Waves and did this background help inspire the belts?
I suppose you could say Wind & Waves found us. Wind & Waves is really an extension of who we are. How we were raised. Fortunately, my brother Rick and I have been blessed to have grown up “on the water” as they say; boats-wood boats. Growing up, our family’s summer vacation was usually spent in Cuttyhunk and occasionally in Nantucket. And we fished; It’s what we did all day, everyday. Later in life we fished for a living. Rick and I at one time use to commercial shellfish here in Rhode Island on Narragansett Bay. A great job! I’m grateful to have also spent some time getting paid to sail and on some world famous yachts I might add. Surfing and windsurfing can also be added here, too. From food to fun we love the ocean and all it offers!
A lot of kids have ideas which they would love to take to fruition. How did you taken Wind & Waves from an idea to reality?
Wind and Waves really evolved from our other business, GRILLIE. Grillie is an affinity product that began with our late step father, Ron Pearl, who line of hood ornaments in the early 80’s. A handful of years ago Ron began prototyping the idea of doing a decorative ornament but rather than putting them on a car’s hood they would attach to the grille of a car or truck. Unfortunately, Ron was diagnosed with cancer and passed almost 3 years ago now; It was a very quick good bye. Before that day came, however, he had a sit down with us and encouraged that we pick up where he was leaving off. And we did. It took a couple years but we got the product to where it is now and had a formal launch in NYC in January 2012 at the International Gift Fair.
In March of that year, we were showing our GRILLIE line at a salt water fishing show here in Rhode Island. We have a line of fish Grillie’s and with any new product there are always questions, and one of the more common questions inferred a reference to belt buckles! This was a relatively easy endeavor for us and also one close to the heart. We already had a local artist, a RISD graduate, Cathryn who meticulously sculpts each design in clay. Lucky for us, manufacturing is here in Rhode Island and we already had those contacts. There are a lot of ground work, such as internet searches, emails and phone calls necessary to any new project as well as learning curves, and unfortunately they can become expensive. (It’s true what they say. Measure twice!) But in the end there is a great sense of accomplishment holding a finished product in hand combined with a sense of pride in the fact that both our companies products are Made in America!
What’s your goal for the future of Wind & Waves and are there other products (beside belt kits) in the pipeline currently?
The Wind & Waves product line are either an exact representation of what’s out there, such as our belt buckles or a combination of materials familiar to us or anyone living the good life. For example, look at my ‘surf boards’. ‘Surfboards’ are a stylish and practical lap desk that are great for the home. I got tired of having my laptop wobble and burn up my lap while chilling on the couch. They’re made of teak and holly. Teak and holly flooring is found in more expensive boats and is referred to as ‘soul’. I cover foam with sunbrella and fasten the cushion to the board with stainless screw snaps. I make these myself. I oil the surface of them and they are easy to maintain. I foresee more products down the line that will include various materials and hardware found in boat yards everywhere…. All pledged to be made here at home in the USA.