The Al-lure of a “Fishy” Clothing Venture (Salmon Cove Clothing Spotlight)
Typically, salmon invoke thoughts of shasimi and omega-3 fatty acids. Nutritional value aside Owen Schnaper and Charlie Roth —founders of clothing line Salmon Cove–think of the oily fish’s anadromous journey from birth in streams, migration to sea, and “Swim Against The Current” to return back to their home stream. Their clothing line’s course of gestation has been precarious with Schnaper surviving Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and both founders leaving comfortable jobs in Chicago’s finance world in order to take on the clothing venture. Determined to succeed, Salmon Cove’s aesthetic value taps into ownership of modern and traditional styles. The clothing appeals to a customer with the wisdom in understanding life’s too short to follow the current–swim against—and have a sweet journey.
Interview: Co-founder of Salmon Cove, Owen Schnaper
What were you and Charlie Roth doing before Salmon Cove?
We both recently left our jobs in finance to run Salmon Cove. We know we can put out an apparel line for confident men and women who are looking for sharp, distinctive, and timeless designs suited for both work and play.
Is there any significance to the name “Salmon Cove?”
Our tag-line is “Swim Against the Current,” which was adopted from the mantra of salmon swimming against the sea’s current to return home again. Our pieces represent our brand—and–Salmon Cove means overcoming life’s challenges and making sure you surround yourself with friends and family that will make the journey even sweeter.
Explain the risks you’ve taken in jump-starting Salmon Cove.
It’s always a risk starting a new company. Here we are, swimming against the current. We strongly believe in the brand and encompassing lifestyle. Every day that we see positive feedback from satisfied customers makes the hardships of a young lifestyle clothing company worthwhile.
Any pitfalls or struggles thus far?
Sure there are occasional hurdles, but we’re doing this to create a fun brand and we always need to make sure we are enjoying every aspect of it including the challenges. Good day or bad day we are passionate about what we do. We’re fortunate to work with dedicated people producing a quality product, it definitely makes coming to work a great experience.
Explain your design process, how do you come up with the pieces in your collections?
We make the clothes for our customers. Coming soon we will have our Facebook fans vote on patterns and colors. We have a fun, young, active, and creative group giving us design input. It is a very collaborative process with our internal team and our client base to develop the best cuts with the best fabrics, stitches, buttons, and zippers that ultimately roll out in our pieces.
Describe a day where people are wearing Salmon Cove.
Everyone has that perfect, familiar shirt in their closet that they have worn for years and can be taken from work to the golf course to a night out. That is a Salmon Cove shirt. An ideal day in the spring starts with a trip to the gym (East Bank Club), then off to the office, hopefully a chance to play golf (maybe Harborside), happy hour with clients (terrace at Smith and Wollensky on the Chicago River), dinner (Gibson’s) and drinks with old friends (trying out a new bar and a new drink).
Where do you see the company in the next few years?
Right now we have a strong base in Chicago and the Midwest. That has already started to spill across the country, in every direction. In two years our e-Commerce business should be thriving and our presence in the golf, tennis and sailing communities will be even bigger. We want to expand our philanthropic and cross promotional activity as well.
Explain some of the ways you and Salmon Cove are giving back to communities.
At Salmon Cove, we are committed to giving back to the community. Most recently, we participated in the Jeffrey Fashion Cares annual fashion event in New York to support LGBT issues and the fight against HIV/AIDS. We participated in the 7th Annual Care to Cure at Chicago’s Soldier Field to support the American Diabetes Association. This summer we will be working on charitable partnerships with the Leukemia and Lymphoma societies. I survived Hodgkin’s Lymphoma seven years ago so it’s a cause close to our hearts.
If you could collaborate with another company, or other designer, who would those be?
What are the latest happenings with Salmon Cove?
We are juggling sales and new designs. This fall we will be presenting track jackets, cashmere sweaters, and new patterns and cuts for our men’s woven pieces. Since the golf and tennis season is starting in the northern part of the country our phones keep ringing with new clubs interested in the brand. We are working with clubs – like Medinah and Conway Farms for instance – to make sure all of their Salmon Cove needs are taken care of, so that is exciting.