Active lifestyle brand Jetty appointed Lee Byrd as COO. Byrd is reportedly a seasoned executive with extensive experience in the apparel and sports industries who grew up as a skateboarder and developed a love for surfing and snowboarding.

Jetty said Byrd has been “quick to deliver value,” having worked with larger, more established brands, including United By Blue, The Gap, Giorgio Armani, and Manchester United.

“I’ve spent my entire career building large international iconic brands by spending time on both the fashion and financial side,” said Byrd. “The future of branded retail is more specialized. Consumers want brands that align, convey, and adequately represent their interests and that are more focused on the specific consumer by way of a deeper, more loyal connection. After many roles in the large brand space, I wanted to spend more time around the beach and saw the opportunity in the marketplace for Jetty as a unique and authentic brand.”

Byrd is a principal at First Cast Ventures, a role he has filled since 2018. Before First Cast, he was the CEO of Retail for Manchester United. Previously, he was an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and held several leadership roles at A|X Armani Exchange for over 20 years. Early companies included Victoria’s Secret, Gap and Macy’s.

The New Jersey-based surf apparel company with a growing presence in the outdoor and active lifestyle markets saw the opportunity to add Byrd to the team as it is “focusing on its authentic roots and devotion to the dynamic, moody coast on which it was born,” according to a recent press release.

Amid a series of new hires and initiatives, Jetty said it will look to celebrate the gritty inspiration that launched the brand.

“When you think about our origin story, it all goes back to surf,” said Jetty Co-Founder and CEO Jeremy DeFilippis. “That’s what we grew up doing and still love to do, but in the Northeast, there’s a lot of downtime. That’s where those other passions come in – hiking, fishing, camping, freediving, anything on, in, or around the water. This year, we’re committed to simply reaffirming that our flag is firmly planted in those surf communities.”

At a time when some surf industry brands may be shifting away from their heritage, Jetty said it “sees the importance of continuing to celebrate its own.” The brand has reportedly grown “organically to 700 retail locations across the country” and is seeing a thriving online business while maintaining its flagship store in Manahawkin, NJ.

“We’re not pro surfers, but we’re a crew that works our asses off,” added DeFilippis. “We work to facilitate travel and time to do what we’re passionate about. Interests change throughout life, but for us, surf is always at the core.”

As the brand turns 20, Jetty is firming up its ambassador team, dedicated to living life around the water.

“We’re leaning heavily on our core and doubling down on what makes Jetty unique: our strong roots in gritty, cold-water surf that defines the East Coast surf culture,” said chief creative officer and partner John Clifford. “Our version of the culture isn’t an exotic and carefree lifestyle. It’s a grind and a challenge earned over a lifetime of dedication.

“We have epic days where you’re patiently waiting for the storm fronts, snowstorms, or tropical systems,” Clifford continued. “Tiny moments make all the waiting and watching worthwhile when you’re getting waves with just a few friends. Downtime is about hard work and extracurriculars. When the waves turn on, you’ve created the opportunity to drop everything and get on it.”

The company noted that its authenticity speaks for itself. 

Jetty continues to print its apparel using eco-friendly water-based practices at its local facility. It has been a certified B Corp since 2017, and its nonprofit arm, The Jetty Rock Foundation, is involved in important coastal water initiatives and supports those in the community in need. It also makes some of its outerwear and apparel with Jetty Oystex, a fabric made of oyster shells and recycled plastic, creating a soft and breathable fabric from more sustainable sources without limiting stretch or durability.

John Clifford sees a future for Jetty that reflects the values that the brand has always upheld. “It’s about hard work, dedication, patience, urgency, appreciation, and overall authenticity. Those are values that define the East Coast but can resonate with anyone, on any coast, who is passionate about a life dedicated to being on the water.”

Images courtesy Jetty, Lee Byrd/LinkedIn