Tell us a little about yourself.
I am the founder of an independent brand called Smith + Holland, and I have been working with some remarkable people over the past year to build our company and product line. Starting Smith + Holland has been such a huge leap for me, and I am excited to be in this phase of my life.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Virginia Beach living by the water and didn’t realize how lucky I was until I had moved away to the big city. I currently reside in New York City, and now have to ride the subway out to the Rockaways in order to get to the nearest beach!
Where did you learn to surf?
After college, I started learning to surf during my weekends at home in Virginia Beach and also while traveling through Nicaragua and Barbados. It was great to discover after moving to New York that the city has a strong and growing community of surfers that I could identify with and who shared my interest in surfing.
What is your favorite break?
I regularly go out to the Rockaways as it’s an hour subway ride away. I have loyalty to East Coast beaches, but one of my favorite breaks elsewhere in the world would be Muizenberg in Cape Town, SA.
East or West coast?
East Coast for sure, as I’ve lived here my entire life, but I’m looking forward to seeing more of the West Coast soon during an upcoming trip!
What led you to start Smith + Holland?
I started Smith + Holland because I wanted to create a brand that would provide accessories for the beach and surf lifestyle that are environmentally-friendly and also thoughtfully designed. I’ve always been a big fan of sunglasses but struggled to find ones that were comfortable to wear. Most of the time the sunglass styles I liked were too heavy and left pressure marks on my nose bridge and/or constantly slid off my face, especially on a hot day at the beach. When I decided to start my own brand, sunglasses seemed like the ideal product to start with as I had so many ideas already on how to improve the design. Our goal was to make them as light and comfortable as possible without losing durability, so we sourced a flexible bioplastic material for the frame and lenses and custom-designed a nosepiece that allows a wearer to adjust the fit of the frames.
What is the story behind the name?
Smith and Holland was the first surf shop in Virginia Beach and founded by local surfers Pete Smith and Bob Holland in the 1960’s. While the shop closed down a long time ago, Pete and Bob continued to contribute to and greatly influence the Virginia Beach surf community. I got their blessing to revive the name as I wanted to tie the company back to my hometown and its surfing history.
What are your values and goals as a brand?
Smith + Holland aims to not only provide products made from low-impact materials, but to also play our part in contributing back to the community. The company donates a portion of every sale to ecologically responsible organizations that protect our oceans and coastlines worldwide, and I am also currently working on creating projects with local non-profits that I have been involved with since moving to New York.
Where do you find inspiration?
I draw a lot of my inspiration from living on the East Coast and especially here in New York, where I am constantly going back and forth between the beach and the city. That led me to want to create styles that could transition effortlessly between both places no matter what I was wearing. The result was a collection of classic frame shapes and colorways in which we incorporated minimalist design details such as our embedded temple hinge and subtle use of metal accents.
What is your favorite product so far?
The Hannon in Champagne and Tortoise is my favorite pair of sunglasses in Smith + Holland’s line as I love its flattering shape and the warmth of the colors that look good on both men and women. I can see myself wearing it at the beach or in the city for a more polished look.
Anything else we should know?
I love to travel and almost always use surfing as the reason to visit and discover a new country or region. I am looking forward to sharing that with the Smith + Holland community and to highlight the inspiring people and places that are a part of the world of surfing.
Get a sweet pair of shades here: