We are proud to announce that Lone Flag is a sponsor of Socality Live San Diego. As an organization committed to community it is exciting to partner with brands and business who are building towards common goals. Sam Larson, Owner and operator of Lone Flag will be with us live to present a workshop on entrepreneurship in our modern day. We caught up with Sam to chat more about Lone Flag and how they are taking a fresh approach to retail, commerce and community.
What inspired you to start Lone Flag?
I had worked at several brands prior to Lone Flag and had always felt the draw to go my own way and create something different with a narrative that was my own. There were elements of working with past companies where I had felt like product was compromised for cheap price points and culture internally was competitive and negative at times. My heart was to create a space and a brand based around premium goods, not cutting corners on anything, and ultimately, community-driven at our core. Instead of competing with other businesses and brands, we could support them and approach the marketplace differently. Those things inspired me enough to jump in and take the huge risks of getting it all going and starting a company from scratch.
How is Lone Flag approaching the market in a fresh way?
We believe that retail is an experience so we build that sense of belonging, amazing smell, feel, conversation, coffee, all of the experiential pieces into our store. We also want to be proponents of other businesses and champion them, create opportunities to work together through collaborations, and lose the overall competitive spirit between small-businesses similar to us. Our entire philosophy is built around being people-first. We only sell premium product because we don't believe in selling poorly made things to someone that will fall apart. We want people to love utilitarian goods that are with them for the story of their life. In the same way, we work to curate an atmosphere on a day to day basis or through our revolving events to stimulate a sense of belonging and conversation for anyone that enters in. It's about people.
How do you build community within your city?
On a macro level, we partner with a lot of like-minded businesses and organizations to help curate events and gatherings that bring people together to create conversations and collaborations between different groups of people in our city. There are a lot of good things happening on a bigger level here in San Diego that really promote pulling people together to experience life in community, it's a great town for that and very pro-active in that sense. We're happy to be a piece of it and doing our part to join in and help champion the movement. That said, on a micro level, we throw events and "community nights" at our brick & mortar space with the sole purpose of bringing together individuals to create relationships and offer value as a business to our community. On a day to day level, we're just pouring cups of coffee and having individual conversations with people in the store or our studio. The core of what we can do to champion community happens at this level, it's a person to person, one conversation at a time, inclusion that makes the bigger picture possible.
Why does fashion tell us about our culture?
To a certain extent it does. It tells us a little bit about what we value. Fashion, in and of itself, is a great thing. It's an individualizing factor that allows us to tell a story about ourselves through what we wear. That's something we love and are passionate about here as well as the freedom to express yourself through the things you choose to wear. On the more sobering side, it's difficult to look at what a lot of our fashion market today is really saying about us behind the scenes. I don't want to soapbox here, but fast fashion is huge in our culture and it literally kills people globally and destroys the earth physically in a lot of ways. When you buy items made at mass-market stores for really low prices, it tells the story as a culture that we're more worried about getting super cheap "deals" than we are about who is making those items or how they are getting made for those ridiculous prices. That's really the tough part about this business sometimes. If a factory in Bangladesh is collapsing and killing thousands of employees (some being children) and we are ok with that so that we can get a $12 tee shirt at H&M or Forever 21, I think that says a lot about our culture. Again, nothing against those places, I just think we need to ask ourselves real questions when we choose to buy things.
What is next for Lone Flag?
On the retail side, our goal is to expand into a second space in the next year or two. We're also building on our vertical brand where we are specifically focused on sourcing LA-made basics from superior fabrics with the best fits we can draw up. Lastly, we're doing a lot more design and branding work these days with our partner business Other Sons that allows us to work with up and coming brands and businesses to help them grow. It's a chance for us to use our expertise and vision to help others realize theirs. It's an exciting venture for us and expands on our community feel.
Describe your American Dream?
The American Dream is having the freedom to pursue a passion or vision and make it a vocation if you're willing to work hard enough (with an emphasis on working hard). It's not necessarily about "riches" or making a lot of money, it's about creating something that allows you to love what you do for work and sustain some sort of contribution to society through that work.