By Aaron Sanchez, Orange Media Network
What’s the hobby which defines you? You know, the one you could work on your entire life without getting bored. Everyone’s got one, mine is writing, my brother’s is golf, my sister’s is dance. For Jake Rittaco, it’s fishing, which motivated him to start his own apparel business, Finz Up.
Finz Up was created as an apparel brand with the intent to draw attention to fishing practices and inform customers on where their seafood really comes from.
“My slogan is Know the Source,” said Rittaco. “When you go to the supermarket, your seafood is all neatly wrapped up, you really don’t know how it got there. There’s no labelling, nothing about who caught it or where it came from.”
Finz Up sells a variety of apparel, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and other accessories which showcase Rittaco’s mission of keeping his consumers informed.
“My designs are all related to that message of transparency,” said Rittaco. “On the front of each shirt I print the questions you should be asking at the supermarket or a restaurant, and the best choices based on that.” For example, you’d want wild caught fish in the US over fish from an international farm.
Rittaco said the idea for Finz Up hit him the way ideas hit most college students: while cramming for finals at three in the morning.
“ I asked myself, ‘what do I want to do with my life?” What do I really care about?’” said Rittaco. “I started thinking deeper about what I wanted to do. I care about the ocean, about sustainability, about fishing. I started sketching different designs and logos. I guess that’s how it started.”
A recent Oregon State graduate, Rittaco operates Finz Up almost entirely on his own, which is no small feat, especially in this day and age. He does the graphics for his merchandise, promotes his social media platforms, and manages the messaging with his girlfriend’s help.
“My next step is getting involved in the commercial fishing industry,” said Rittaco. “I want to connect with fishermen who share similar values, continue developing products, and expanding my social media.”
Right now, Finz Up is active on Instagram and YouTube, but Rittaco wants to break into Twitter and Facebook in order to continue growing his brand.
“I want people to reconnect with their food sources,” said Rittaco. “As hunters and gatherers, I feel like we’ve lost connection with our food, which is an important part of being human.”
Because there’s so little coverage of the commercial fishing industry, Rittaco says the operations can be unclear, murky, and corrupt. Rittaco wants to bring transparency back to the industry, one sweatshirt at a time.
Going forward, he wants to make his apparel more environmentally friendly by using hemp based materials. He plans on expanding his collection with more designs and more clothing articles. For more information, please visit Rittaco’s website, finz-up.com