IN THE KNOW with Patricia Thornton of Psycho Tuna

April 25, 2022 | Scott Murray-Burrows

Patricia Thornton, an avid surfer herself, spent nearly 10 years at Maui & Sons and helped revive that brand at core surf stores and high-profile accounts like PacSun before leaving to launch new brand Psycho Tuna in 2019.  We caught up with Patricia to chat about launching a brand in the middle of the pandemic, the outdoor industry boom and growing in new markets now that tradeshows are back in action!

Hi Patricia, how are you? 
Awesome and you?

Great thanks!  For those that are not aware, can you tell us a bit about your industry background and what you are up to?
I have been in the industry for years; I was with Maui and Sons for over 10 years. Helped bring the brand back to the core surf market and then resigned after I found out they were going to bring the business to Walmart. I then took a position as COO of Ring of Fire, the parent company to Psycho Tuna.

Cool, so you launched the brand ‘Psycho Tuna’ right at the start of the pandemic! How have the last couple of years been?

Yes, Psycho Tuna was launched in 2019. We were to attend the Surf Expo and then the hurricane came, the show was cancelled. We then were able to the Vegas Project show, then Covid hit.

 I had strong relationships in the industry so during the first couple of months we were shipping Pac Sun and Tilly’s on-line only as stores were all closed. Mid-June we had stores calling us to see if we could ship their orders. 2021 has really been our breakout year! Business for everyone was insane for most retailers. I hired great reps the later part of 2020, and my business just keeps growing above my expectations. 2022 has also proven to be amazing. When launching a new brand, you never know until the consumer either likes it or not. Thankfully they are digging it!

Yeah, it seems the outdoor market, from Surf to Fishing and lifestyle have really been booming the last few years, aided in part by the pandemic but also people’s desire to get out and do something!  Do you think it will continue this way?
Absolutely, I believe the pandemic showed people to step out of there comfort zone and explore new adventures. Especially since the only thing to do was go outdoors. My local surf spot is now crowded with new surfers (not sure if that is a good thing)! LOL.

As someone that has a deep history in the surf market, what are some of the significant changes you have seen in the industry over the years and what do you think will happen in the future?

Team Rider Titus Santucci & Psycho Tuna at Ron Jon’s Surf Shop, New Jersey

New brands emerging, and other big brands falling out. With all the supply chain issues and retailers struggling to get merchandise it has given new brands with inventory a test in the market. The culture is changing which is giving the “Surf/Outdoor” world a bigger audience.

Now that tradeshows and in-person events are coming back on the calendar, what’s on the schedule for Psycho Tuna?

Patricia and Pro Surfer Ben Gravy at the AC Show in New Jersey

We attended all trades shows in 2021. OR, Surf Expo, Project, Miami Swim Show, and they were all epic!

As the bigger brands didn’t participate it gave smaller brands a chance to open up a lot of new business. Retailers were excited to see everyone and get back out there!  This year we will be attending the same shows again. I am very excited for KNOWSHOW this summer as this will be a new market for us to build upon!

Great chatting Patricia, looking forward to having Psycho Tuna at the show this summer and wishing you continued success!  

For more information about Psycho Tuna

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