Even before his recent takeover as co-owner and CEO of Local Brand—a company offering Florida-centric apparel that’s wildly popular with natives and newcomers alike—Brandon Rinker, 30, was a local boy with a head for business.
“It’s always been a passion of mine,” Rinker says, describing his first hustle selling cinnamon toothpicks to his elementary school classmates. Since 2009, he’s used his business acumen to build Rinker Realty, managing more than 125 real estate associates and investing in both commercial and residential properties. But in January 2017, Rinker began wearing a second business hat—literally: a baseball cap emblazoned with an upside-down outline of the state of Florida standing in for the “L” in the word “Local.”
It’s a logo and a brand that many across the state have come to love (just ask the company’s 200,000 followers on social media platforms). But it began almost a decade ago as a simple napkin doodle that made its way to beach T-shirts and bumper stickers. Soon, Local Brand apparel in the form of hats, tank tops, hoodies and more were being snapped up statewide by people who were drawn not only to the brand’s cool designs, but also to the sun-in-your-face, salt-in-your-hair lifestyle the brand celebrates.
But as Rinker explains, eventually Local outgrew the people who brought it to life. When one of the original doodlers came to him last year to pitch a buy-out, Rinker was in the midst of mourning his father’s death. In spite of that struggle (or perhaps because of it) the brand resonated with him. “The lifestyle that Local represents was my dad. I almost feel like he put it in front of me,” Rinker says. “When my partners and I sat down to learn about the brand on a deeper level, we fell in love with it instantly. For me, it felt personal. I was like, ‘This is me. This is my upbringing. I get it. And I can help it grow.’”
Rinker’s market sense and confidence are traits that run in the family. “We’ve been in business in South Florida since the early 1900s,” he says, referring to the cement empire founded by his grandfather Marshall “Doc” Rinker. After moving to West Palm Beach in 1925 with a single dump truck worth $500, Doc’s Rinker Materials Corporation went on to pour many of the foundations that made Florida famous, including NASA’s Cape Canaveral complex, Walt Disney World and Florida International University.
Far from his grandfather’s sand pits where Rinker fondly recalls riding four wheelers as a kid, Local Brand moves its popular products on its website at localbrandonly.com, and on the shelves of a handful of national retailers and more than 40 independent surf shops, skate shops and fishing joints from Melbourne to Key West (including Jupiter’s Ocean Magic Surf Shop & Sport and Lake Worth’s Island Water Sports). And it’s a product that moves rapidly, according to Rinker. “From this thing in a bar that sold 20 shirts, last month we moved 10,000 products,” he says.
The future for Local Brand? Rinker says it’s as bright as the South Florida sunshine it was born under. “We have an amazing team in place that works together to make Local run like a machine now,” he says proudly. “And thanks to that army working together, we’re on pace for seven figures in sales this year. We have so much growth potential, it’s stupid.”
Like his famously charitable grandfather (who was often quoted as saying, “Money is only a thing to make the world better”), Rinker aims to use Local Brand’s influence for good. To that end, the company has recently partnered with Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, offering special edition hats and shirts that benefit the center with each purchase. “Local has this huge platform to engage with people,” Rinker says. “It’s exciting to use that platform to shed light on what Loggerhead is doing, and to be supportive of their good work. It’s what we should be doing, not just a company, but as people.”
For Rinker, Local Brand’s message is about more than just being a resident—of this place or any place. “You don’t have to be from Florida to understand what this brand is,” Rinker explains. “It’s more of a pride kind of thing, but there’s also a responsibility piece. We should be taking care of where we live. To me, being ‘local’ means respecting where you live and loving where you live, wherever that may be.”