Salt Life Festival offers an escape

Creators of the festival discuss their brand and how they give back

Kamia Addison, Staff Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many Jacksonville residents have heard of the brand name “Salt Life”, but are not quite sure what it is.

Recently, Salt Life hosted a festival to not only get its name out into the community but to give back to the community, too.

Salt Life’s brand was created in 2003 by four friends from Jacksonville Beach who loved ocean-related activities. The four eventually decided to turn that affinity into a developing brand. But for them, it wasn’t just a logo, but a lifestyle, too. The Salt Life lifestyle is essentially for anybody that loves the ocean.

“It’s all about fishing, diving, and surfing,” said Larry Laska, director of marketing for Salt Life.

The brand consists of active apparel and gear well-tailored to the lifestyle of those who enjoy ocean-related activities, but Salt Life’s annual festival is about treating local guests to a nice outing where salt meets the community. Located at the Sea Walk Pavilion on Jacksonville Beach, the festival is a free admission, 10-hour event that includes food trucks and vendors, periodic performances by local bands, and activities for both children and adults to enjoy. However, there is an optional $20 fee for premium seating at the concerts.

“This is our third year sponsoring this, and I think this a good way for us to let people in the community know we’re here and that we appreciate what they’ve done to support our brand,” Laska said.

And the festival is good exposure for vendors, too.

“Events like this enable us to get our product right in front of people so that they can touch and handle it instead of just seeing it on our website,” said Big Skinny Wallets vendor Sandy Butensky. “The website’s good, but here we can reach 30,000 people in a day.”

Butensky’s neighboring vendor, Alyssa Adkinson of Leaf Filter Gutter Protection, also mentioned how beneficial festivals are in helping her business gain new customers.

“We are pretty much all expo-based marketing, so with events like this it’s really just about name recognition, getting in front of as many people as possible, and as you can see, Salt Life is a huge crowd, so it’s just a great market and a great chance to get in front of a lot of people,” Adkinson said.

While Salt Life aims to reach the community on land, Laska says it is giving back to the actual salt community as well. Salt Life recently teamed up with the Roatan Marine Park to preserve and protect water reefs in Roatan, Honduras. The project is aimed at promoting a healthy, sustainable marine environment that can provide tourism and fisheries without harming the environment.

So. Is Salt Life for you? Laska offers this advice to people new to the Salt Life lifestyle:

“Get to the ocean any chance you get,” he says. “You get wet, you catch a fish, you ride a wave, you just immerse yourself in the ocean lifestyle.”