Local Retailer With Ambition To Do More

Going into its sixth year of existence, environmentally-friendly retailer, Casual Starfish, can be found online and in market shops like Good Vibes Bungalow and Good Vibes, Lantana.

Despite its presence in a variety of markets, Casual Starfish considers itself a little fish in a large clothing-retail pond. On the same token however, Dean Dietrich, the brand’s founder, along with followers of the line, know there is more to the company than just beach clothes and good vibes. Casual Starfish maintains a goal to impact the environment for the better as well.

Their products are American made and their designs are all original. The shirts are printed locally by two Florida print shops. They are printed on a polyester technical fabric, which wicks away moisture and dries quickly.

Casual Starfish campaigns mostly to women. “Moms, grandmas, wives do most of the buying for the men and boys in their lives,” said Dietrich. “Appealing to them is the key.”

After a few years of selling their products, Dietrich has found that they are most successful when selling in person.

“People want to touch and feel, so when we sell at outdoor markets we are usually very busy. Our outdoor market gross sales per day is up to 50-75 percent over the last year.”

With so many small clothing companies out there, Casual Starfish has to separate itself from the pack. They do that by embracing their small business role. They embrace what South Florida is all about as well as stand for values greater than simple monetary gain. This attitude makes Casual Starfish important to the market and to the South Florida community.

Before the culmination of Casual Starfish Brand, Dietrich and his wife, Jeanette, would always struggle to find shirts for their children that would provide them with adequate sun protection while being in ocean waters. The solution came about as Dietrich, who works full time for Hammerhead pool cleaners, was producing shirts for the company to give away at trade shows. The shirts gained popularity and turned out to be just what he and his wife were looking for, bringing him to a seemingly obvious conclusion.

“If we can’t find the stuff, why not make our own?,” he asked, and in August 2011, the Casual Starfish brand was born.

Dietrich is a native of the area, having been born in Fort Lauderdale and grown up in Pompano. He looks back on his childhood and always remembers being in or near water. The way he was raised is what helped formulate the idea for this brand.

“It all came from me and my childhood and the kind of love for the environment and the ocean that my parents put in me,” Dietrich said.

“Deep down, I would much rather make an impact than money,” he said.

The company recently was approved for a nonprofit status. Proceeds generated through the business will be donated to a handful of organizations including the Coral Restoration Foundation and Share the Stoke, which works to collect old surfboards for donations in less fortunate coastal countries.

To learn more about Casual Starfish and how the organization is committed to its core values, interested readers can visit casualstarfish.com.

Ben Fagan

Ben Fagan, a native of South Florida, is a multimedia journalism major beginning his junior year. Beyond his classroom studies, Fagan plays baseball for Lynn. Fagan looks to pursue his baseball career through the Major League ranks.

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