November 27th, 2015
Meet Your Maker | Hippy Tree Founder of HippyTree Andrew Sarnecki Talks Origins of the Tribe & Outdoor Inspo
SWELL stopped by HippyTree HQ in the South Bay to get a tour of their rapidly growing operation, and the story behind the designs that we can barely keep on the shelves.
SWELL: Give your SWELL fans a quick story about the roots of HippyTree.
Andrew: Kind of a long story, but here it is in a nutshell. I’ve been into graphic design and photography since high school. After college I worked as a wetsuit designer. I had waist length dreads at the time and everyone called me “Hippy”. I started selling tide calendars and t-shirts featuring my art and photography to local South Bay surf shops in 2004. I branded the goods under the HippyTree name. Over the years HippyTree grew and evolved. Today we design and sell 4 seasons of clothing per year.
SWELL: We’ve heard tales of you guys tagging HippyTree and doing street art. How’d that go over with the fuzz?
Andrew:Yeah, I wouldn’t really call it tagging. We used to cut the HippyTree logo out of metal and would connect two metal trees with a piece of rope. We would throw the metal trees over telephone wires. It was similar to throwing a pair of shoes around a wire. We started doing it day and night for about 6 months. Eventually the police got involved and I was arrested. They weren’t too stoked on what we were doing.
SWELL: Where to you get your inspiration and how to you incorporate it into the latest HippyTree Styles?
Andrew: Lately I’ve been collecting and getting inspired by old Peterson Field Guides. These guides are filled with maps and diagrams on bird and wildlife migration, plant and mushroom identification and stuff like that. I’ve been incorporating elements from these guide books and turning them into fabric prints and graphics.
The TRAILHEAD Tee, featuring Topo Patterned Contrast Pocket
SWELL: How do your tribesmen influence the HippyTree style?
Andrew: The HippyTree Tribe is our family of athletes. The Tribe brings ideas to the table for new products and offers suggestions on how to make current products better. Our Tribe spends a lot of time surfing, climbing and traveling off the grid. They want clothing that they can trek around in all day without worrying about seams ripping and zippers breaking. We are constantly figuring out ways to make HippyTree clothing more durable without skimping on style and comfort.
SWELL: Earliest memory of surf stoke?
Andrew: Huntington Beach when I was seven. Up till that point I was just riding the white water. One day I caught and stood up on the face of the wave before it broke. I still have a vivid memory of this wave. I’ve been hooked ever since.
SWELL: Where can you be found on a typical Friday at 5 o’clock?
Andrew: The first thing on my mind is a good beer. There are a couple good watering holes in Hermosa Beach with some nice beers on tap. Throw in a couple tacos or a burger and I’m ready for whatever the night throws at me.
Andrew: I’ve been digging this mid length hull inspired board that my friend James Wheatley shaped for me. Before that one was a twin fin fish shaped by Phil Becker. The one before that one was a corsair single fin shaped by Brian Hilbers. All three of these boards have been magic.
SWELL: Pre-sesh tunes?
Andrew: I live a block from the beach so I rarely drive to surf or listen to music in the morning. If there are waves all I need is some coffee and I’m ready to go.
SWELL: Next surf trip destination?
Andrew: We have Tribesman who is the general manager for a surf resort called Pitstop Hill in the Mentawai Islands. It’s this perfect barreling right with a nice end section on it. I’ve been mind surfing this wave for over a year. It’s just a matter of time before I buy a ticket and make it a reality.
SWELL: Dawn patrol style picks?
The Iconic Troop Trucker
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