The Marine Corps is a fighting force with many time honored traditions that include but are not limited to inducing epiphanies over copious amounts of alcohol as well as creating logos that are way cooler than those dawned by most units from other branches of service. The skull and the paddle have played a steady role in the history of some of the Marine Corps’ most elite units, featured on badges and unit crests. This is why Travis, Jason, Kevin and Joe knew that when they were ironing out the details of their new business idea that these were symbols that would play a heavy role in everything from the image to their values while also paying homage to the communities they are proud to be a part of.
As a newly minted clothing company, Skull & Paddle is owned and operated by active duty Marines and Sailors with past and present assignments in Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) and Reconnaissance units. S&P was founded in 2015 while two of the founders were deployed. Travis and Jason had a long discussion about how they couldn’t think of a clothing brand that truly captured their style, while also supporting veteran charities. That conversation turned into a test run of shirts worn by the guys and their close friends, Kevin and Joe, who invested the same amount of energy and time once everyone reconvened on U.S. soil.
Although starting a business on top of a career in special operations is demanding, Travis says the best part is that it extends that brotherhood past the end of the duty day. While maintaining the high operational tempo of their respective units, the guys say Skull & Paddle is a labor of love and the job satisfaction is easy to see as they have already received a high volume of positive feedback from their customers.
In true devildog fashion, Skull & Paddle strives to create appropriate attire for your favorite local watering hole and judging by sales in their first year of existence, they’ve been successful. The boys have thoroughly tested their products in the bars of Wilmington, North Carolina. The thing that really sets S&P apart from their competition is that they have wedged themselves between two markets by creating clothing that bridges a gap from a shirt that looks like it could be worn as a special operations unit physical training shirt while at the same time be sold in a surf shop and worn by someone who has never been within arm’s reach of a rifle.
Following a growing trend within veteran owned clothing companies, S&P generously donates a portion of the proceeds from each sale to 501(c)3 charity that supports Veterans/Military Families around the world. In their first year they raised $600 for the MARSOC Foundation and they are hoping to break the $1000 mark for the RECON Foundation in the coming year. Because of the background of the company, the aforementioned organizations will be constant recipients but the boys hope to eventually gain enough of a following that they can team up with other charities and do limited edition releases where 100% of the proceeds from the shirt will go to the charity.
Perhaps the most important takeaway from Skull & Paddle is that you don’t have to identify with the brand as it was born out of that same sentiment. If something you desire doesn’t exist, create it. If you see a problem, fix it. If you feel you can do something better, do it. Travis, Jason, Kevin and Joe saw a deficiency in the world and they piled tasks on to their heavy workloads to fill that gap.
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