ABERDEEN – Growing up in Colts Neck, Andrew Strafaci was active in all board sports – skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing. And in 2017, he turned that passion into Cyndrom, a clothing line that celebrates the culture, spirit and lifestyle associated with these action sports.
“Among board sports, skateboarding was my first love,” recalls Strafaci, 31, from Aberdeen. “When I was 9 or 10, my older brother got a skateboard for his birthday and I was extremely jealous, so my aunt bought me one and I was hooked. Skateboarding then opened my eyes. door to other activities and I continued to explore other sports and brands and I never gave up on this passion.
Strafaci went on to earn a civil engineering degree from the College of New Jersey at Ewing, then Rutgers Law School with a JD/MBA in 2019 (formerly an engineer, Strafaci has been a practicing attorney for two years), while spending his free time at Cyndrom.
“The concept of Cyndrom goes back to my high school days; I was doodling at home and found the logo, which is a wave-shaped letter C,” he said. “These sports have been a huge part of my life and I’ve always been fascinated by the various boardsports apparel logos and brands and wanted the chance to compete in them.”
Thus began a more than ten-year quest for Strafaci, who created the spelling of his company’s brand name with his brothers, learned to create patterns, screen print and sew, and started making his own demo shirts on a screen printer he built. himself after college.
According to the company’s motto, Cyndrom was “born out of a love of action sports,” Strafaci said. “I have a lifelong passion for riding different types of boards and other people of all skill levels share that passion,” he said. “My line is rooted in the ‘stronger’ style of clothing that existed at the turn of the 2000s when skateboarding was experiencing a new resurgence and my designs pay homage to that era.”
Investing the money he saved into creating professional-grade products and expanding his supply chain, Strafaci launched Cyndrom in 2017 and began promoting his line in targeted pop-up stores with his brother Joe.
Among other events, “Cyndrom began holding the Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market at Convention Hall several times a year,” he said. “It was a great place for artists and local businesses to show up, get a sense of who our customers were, and help grow our brands, and it really helped us spread the word.”
“They took a chance on us”
Five years later, “our brand includes a huge variety of hats, t-shirts, tank tops, hoodies and other sweatshirts – we’ve got you covered from head to waist,” Strafaci said of his more than two dozens of products, which range from hats and $30 T-shirts to hoodies and crewneck sweatshirts in the $60 range.
“Quality and comfort are paramount and products like our hoodies are made from comfortable fleece and terry cotton and have an exceptionally broken-in feel,” he said of the materials he sources from from suppliers in California, then assembled, embroidered and screen printed at a facility in Lakewood. “I design our hats entirely, which are our most popular products. In the winter, beanies are our bestsellers, and in the summer, we sell a lot of snapback and trucker caps with our ‘Ride On’ slogan.”
Although Cyndrom’s products are sold online, they are also available at a number of local stores.
“The first store we walked into was Eastern Lines Surf Shop in Belmar – they took a chance when we had little to no following and we’re very grateful for that,” Strafaci said. “We are also at the Feet First Skate Shop in Red Bank, a store I grew up in when it was once located in Middletown, and more recently our products are also available at Gordon’s Surf Shop in Point Pleasant.”
But the appeal of the company’s products extends far beyond Monmouth and Ocean counties.
“Our various designs featuring Tillie the Clown, a skeleton hand doing the shaka, and products with our ‘Surf and Annoy’ tagline have taken off and helped us become more of a comprehensive action sports brand with customers at across America, not just a Jersey Shore brand,” Strafaci said.
With a clientele that is largely between the ages of 15 and 30, but also includes people in their 50s and 60s who were part of the original board culture as well as a new generation of teenagers , “we are a welcoming community,” he said. .
“Work hard to stand out”
Among the challenges, Strafaci said supply chain issues that emerged during the pandemic forced it to manufacture products and manage inventory differently. At the same time, “there is always pressure to deliver the next big thing and maintain consistent growth,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of barriers to entry when you start a sportswear brand and there are a lot of competitors in our space, so we have to keep seizing every opportunity and working hard to stand out and develop ourselves.”
Strafaci plans to do this in a number of ways — supported by the $20,000 grant Cyndrom recently won in Rutgers Business School’s 2021-2022 business plan competition.
“We would like to have our own physical store one day, but right now we are growing thanks to the board shops and their owners, who give us a lot of feedback on customer preferences and trends,” he said. declared. “We want New Jersey surf and skate shops looking for a new local brand that has a lot of experience behind it and a lot of growth ahead of it to consider us.”
“We also plan to continue hosting pop-up events including the Belmar Pro Surfing Competition – which takes place this year from September 9-11 and where we will be offering special giveaways, merchandise and prizes – as well as the wider Surf Expo. . , the largest action sports retail show in the United States,” he continued.
“Our goal is to be a national athletic apparel brand for all board sports, and we have inland targets including Breckinridge, Colorado,” Strafaci said. “The new snowboard gloves we’re offering this year and in 2023 will be our foray into more technical gear, and next summer we’ll be introducing rashguards and other surf-related products.
Ultimately, “I want Cyndrom to be a leader in action sportswear,” Strafaci said. “Our products are designed by and for people who love these sports and truly reflect their spirit, culture and community. With the increased attention and influence that all board sports continue to garner online and at premier competitive events around the world, we want Cyndrom to be there and represent the surfer of all days.
As he continues to take Cyndrom to new heights, Strafaci confirmed that connecting with customers remains his favorite part of the business.
“Seeing others share my vision and appreciate what we offer is a very rewarding experience for any entrepreneur and I get the most pleasure out of it,” he said. As a board sports enthusiast himself, “I love that we offer quality custom clothing for surfers that allows them to express their passion.”
Owner: Andrew Strafaci
Spear : 2017