July 29, 2014

Florida Trend Business Profile

Guy Harvey and the Art of the Deal

Guy Harvey's fish paintings have made his T-shirts and name synonymous with fishing and Florida's casual lifestyle. Can he push the brand nationally?

Lilly Rockwell | 2/25/2013

Bigger than fishing?

Nearly 70% of Harvey’s sales come from apparel. Looking for a manufacturer/distributor with national scope, Harvey ended his relationship with T-Shirts of Florida and signed the deal with AFTCO in 2004. Apparel sales increased, but the Harvey brand hasn’t broken through nationally in the same way, for example, as the Tommy Bahama apparel line. Trend contacted two analysts who follow the retail industry. Neither had heard of Harvey.

Harvey is keen to change that. Last year, Guy Harvey Inc. began a campaign to broaden his appeal — starting with a line of collegiate T-shirts for southeastern schools that feature the schools’ mascots rather than fish. The company also has rolled out a line of shirts with images for the Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. The shirts don’t feature fish.

Another new line targets women, including a pink, breast cancer-awareness month T-shirt. In the last several years, Stock says, there has been a concerted effort to improve Harvey’s women’s apparel selection, with shirts that offer slogans like “I Fish Like a Girl,” and are sold in smaller women’s cuts and soft pastels.

“We are trying to get bigger than the fishing business,” Harvey says. The collegiate and other lines “are all important for us to build the brand into a meaningful national brand, not just a lifestyle brand.” Success, he adds, means more money for marine conservation.

Stock says the company is also targeting country-music fans. The company plans a “Rock the Ocean” two-day festival on Fort Lauderdale Beach in April with country singer Kenny Chesney headlining. A key part of the company’s marketing is emphasizing that Harvey, unlike the fictional Tommy Bahama, is an actual person — “an artist and a scientist and all these other things (Tommy Bahama) doesn’t have,” Stock says.

Harvey, who travels at least 30 weeks a year to events like the Beall’s appearance in Tallahassee to promote his brand, lives and paints on Grand Cayman Island. Commerce is always close at hand. Harvey’s studio is also a store, and he says he likes to chat with customers as he paints.

“It’s all fun; it’s all part of the game,” he says. “We get a lot of cruise ships coming in. The beauty of that situation is you get a boatload of customers every single day.”

Tags: Trendsetters, Arts & Entertainment

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