The Orange County region of southern California is famous for lots of reasons and its reputation as an entrepreneurial hotspot is one of the features that continue to attract newcomers. Although the people behind the counters at surf shops and the people shopping for gear might not seem to have much in common at first blush, surf-centered tourism and recreation is part of what drove the business boom in Irvine. It is hard to believe that just a couple generations ago Irvine was a sleepy college town. Today, in addition to the renowned UC Irvine campus, this entire area is filled with start-ups, growing companies, and legacy corporations. The influx of business-minded leaders was brought in part by all the attention that the first waves of surfing enthusiasts generated.
The Perfect California Look
Young adults lured by Orange County’s year-round great weather, world-class surfing conditions, and pristine beaches in the 1960’s and 1970’s quickly wanted to find ways to sustain their favorite hobbies. These young people found work at restaurants, bars, and newly-opened surf shops; before long, they were opening businesses of their own to combine their new career skills with their passion for surfing and surf culture.
Any stroll down busy Irvine streets will give you an up-close look at many of the products that got their start thanks to OC surf culture and those early enterprising pioneers. You can thank those crazy kids for goods like:
- Fashionable swimming trunks
- Board shorts
- Wet suits and surf suits
- Beach dresses and sun dresses
- Skate shoes
The styles from brands like ROXY, Vans, Rip Curl, Ocean Pacific, and PacSun (Pacific Sunwear), and Quiksilver have helped distinguish the true look of Orange County and surf culture.
Innovation and Adventure Go Hand in Hand
When you think about it, the kind of people who spend their days chasing the perfect wave may have the same spirit of adventure required for taking chances in the business world. Maybe that’s why I feel so at home in this part of the state.