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Saturday, Jun 10, 2023


Orange County’s iconic surf and apparel execs aren’t good at staying out of the investment waters, nor staying away from their families.

In Huntington Beach, upstart distillery Surf City Still Works recently announced a new round of funding and notable new investors, including Quiksilver founder Bob McKnight and his son Robbie, the latter is co-founder of local shoe company Cauter.

See Jessie Yount’s story on this page for more on Surf City spirit maker’s expansion plans both in its hometown and in retailers across the region.

“We’re proud to be investing in our local community and in a product as cool as this,” said the elder McKnight, who now serves as brand ambassador for boardshorts maker Quiksilver, whose parent company Boardriders is based in Huntington Beach.

A few miles south, the family of Bob Hurley, founder of Costa Mesa surf brand Hurley, has a new business to run; Simple Shoes, a footwear maker focusing on classic sneakers, clogs and sandals.

The surfwear apparel founder’s Newport Beach-based Kandui Holdings last week said it acquired the intellectual property and assets of the Simple brand on undisclosed terms; his son Jeff Hurley is Kandui’s CEO. Industry chatter points to world surfing champion John John Florence as being a stakeholder in the new ownership group; he ended his contract with Hurley International around the start of the year after its sale from Nike to Blue Star Alliance LLC.

“We are energized about this acquisition and looking forward to delivering footwear, apparel, and accessories that live up to the Simple name,” the elder Hurley said.

The McKnight and Hurley news comes a few weeks after Jim Jannard, founder of Foothill Ranch-based sunglasses maker Oakley Inc. and Red Digital Cinema Camera Co. of Irvine said he’s begun working on something “just for fun” with Red Digital head of marketing and creative Jamin Jannard, his son.

Jannard announced his retirement last year. “It didn’t take me very long to get bored out of my mind,” he said on Instagram.

In normal times, you’d chalk up Chipotle Mexican Grill’s new digital-focused social justice effort as the likely result of local office campus synergies.

Newport Beach’s Chipotle last week said its new “real change” feature on its app and website would spotlight the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a nonprofit organization that supports students attending historically black colleges and universities.

Through Aug. 23, customers ordering food can round up their change to the next highest dollar amount on the app or website “to help drive real, meaningful change for the Black community,” the company said.

It’s a strategy much like that of micro-investing fintech Acorns of Irvine, whose app lets users round up spare change and invest it. Acorns is approaching unicorn status in terms of valuation, and its UCI Research Park headquarters is a few doors down from a secondary office that Chipotle has in the area; the spot is said to be used for R&D purposes by the $33B-valued burrito maker.

After introduction of the round up technology on Chipotle’s app a few weeks ago, over 1.4 million guests have contributed on average 45 cents with each order, totaling approximately $1M, the company said. Its first spotlight organization was the National Urban League.

See page 11 for more on the how local restaurant chains are embracing the digital revolution.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.

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