Grid110 Founder Story: 7TILL8 Wetsuits

Emmanuel Chan
Mar 19 · 6 min read

The program helped us reinforce our core values as well as reimagine how we approach the long game.

Surf and Dive. It requires the ocean. 70% of the globe is blue, vast, and deep. Exploring its depths is not for the faint of heart, and for those that are intrepid enough to journey into the vastness — you need the proper equipment. A proper fitting wetsuit, made just for you.

As the weather starts to heat up, we wanted to highlight a company that’s changing the wetsuit biz. 7TILL8 Wetsuits, the brainchild of Andrew Park and Grace Hsiang, is built on the simple premise that every surfer, diver and water explorer deserves a wetsuit that fits. Think Indochino for wetsuits, but better. The name, 7TILL8, is a homage to the “glass-off hour,” which is when the winds die down and the ocean looks smooth and glassy; the perfect occasion to both surf and dive. During the California summer, it usually happens between 7–8pm. In our estimation, perfect conditions call for the perfect wetsuit.

In helping others find that perfectly form-fitted, custom-tailored wetsuit, constructed only from the very best Japanese limestone neoprene on the market, 7TILL8 is on a mission to help strengthen and deepen your relationship with the ocean. And the industry has taken notice. Stab magazine recognized 7TILL8 as the best luxury wetsuit of 2018.

But, 7TILL8 is not only going directly to consumers. They’ve secured projects and built wetsuits for some of the most recognizable brands in Barefoot Wines, the San Francisco Fire Department, and Yeezy, yes, the Yeezus himself. And come later this year, you’ll be able to spot their wetsuits on the theatre stage. That’s right. They just wrapped a project with the American Repertory Theatre, recreating the wetsuits that will be used for “Endlings,” a play reprising the story of the famous haenyeos (sea women divers of Korea).

Andrew and Grace both came into the Grid110 Residency program with an already amazing product, but found the camaraderie and diverse insights of the cohort as a fresh and validating perspective that only strengthened their business strategy and model. In their words, the program “helped us reinforce our core values as well as reimagine how we approach the long game.”

With the LA sun and ocean serving as the perfect backdrop, we can’t help but be excited about where the tide will take this tandem. Maybe you’ll see their wetsuits at the next Kanye fashion show, just maybe.

7TILL8 is bringing back a Limited Edition signature product. The second edition of the Aloha Shirt. The Aloha Shirt is a 2mm reversible neoprene top made from Yamamoto limestone neoprene. This second release features an original “Peace & Shakas” print from Venice-based artist, Kevin Butler of Rad Cars with Rad Surfboards.

Check it out and grab this exclusive item here — Aloha Shirt II, you have until Friday, April 5!

Also, go visit their new studio @ 20950 S. Normandie Avenue, Unit J Torrance, CA 90502

IG: 7till8Wetsuits

Full Transcript:

What is your venture? How do you seek to change the world?

7TILL8 Wetsuits combines custom tailoring with the highest quality neoprene to create a perfect-fit wetsuit.

When it comes to a wetsuit, the fit is everything. Every surfer and diver wants to maximize their experience in the water and an ill-fitting wetsuit can distract from that. With limited size options available on the market, a lot of surfers and divers are unable to access a premium wetsuit that helps them perform at their best. Our solution was to create a bespoke product made from Japanese limestone neoprene, the best material on the market.

We recognize that there is a diverse audience entering the water and we believe everyone deserves access to a quality product. Our goal is to help each individual strengthen their relationship with the ocean and we believe a wetsuit can help encourage that.

What prompted you to start your venture? Where did the idea come from?

As a former Los Angeles city lifeguard, Andrew noticed his peers were having issues finding a proper wetsuit. Considering this was a group of avid watermen, it seemed problematic that many of them could not find a wetsuit that fit well. Taking inspiration from tailored suit companies like Indochino, he began exploring a custom wetsuit product with a direct to consumer model.

What’s special and advantageous about being in LA (if applicable, DTLA) for you and your venture?

Los Angeles is an amazing location to run a surf and dive company for so many reasons, but the most obvious one is our physical access to the ocean. We’re a short drive away from iconic surf destinations like Malibu and dive spots like Catalina Island. This city is also one of the most diverse and creative locations to run a company like ours. We get to meet all kinds of different people from different industries who inspire and challenge us to think outside the box.

What are some notable partnerships and projects that you’re particularly proud of being a part of? What makes these projects special?

One part of our business that we don’t often talk about is our B2B side, which includes manufacturing as well as white label partnerships. Since we’re able to make bespoke wetsuits on an individual basis, a brand will approach us with the most unexpected project inquiries and we’re always down for a creative wetsuit challenge. As a result, we’ve made wetsuits for Barefoot Wines, the San Francisco Fire Department, and Yeezy. Most recently, we wrapped up a project with the American Repertory Theater that was super exciting. The A.R.T. is making a play called “Endlings” that tells the story of the famous haenyeos (divers of Korea) and we were asked to recreate the actual wetsuits for the cast. As Asian Americans, it was amazing to help bring to life a story and perspective that we don’t often see told.

As you think back to your Grid110 experience, what are the 1–2 lessons or takeaways that still stick out to you?

A great product doesn’t equal a great business. Our cohort was filled with amazing companies from totally different industries than ours, which gave us a fresh perspective on our business strategy and model. We learned a lot just from sitting in the room and hearing about everyone’s experiences. It’s helped us reinforce our core values as well as reimagine how we approach the long game.

Considering what Grid110 provides and offers, what has been the most impactful to you as a founder and business? How has the Grid110 experience influenced your entrepreneurial journey?

As a young business, it can be daunting at times to be different when you don’t have a long track record. With a bespoke product as well as an e-commerce distribution model, we don’t see a lot of companies like us in our industry. Grid110 helped validate a lot of our business thinking and that positive support is vital to protecting your energy as an entrepreneur.

Fun Questions

Who is your personal role model? We’re inspired by those who built amazing companies that also pioneered new industries. Some of our favorites include Jake Burton Carpenter and Donna Carpenter of Burton Snowboards, Jack Ma of Alibaba, and Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia.

If you could have a meal with anyone, living or deceased, who would it be? It would be wild to sit down with Yayoi Kusama, renowned artist known for her infinity mirrored rooms.

If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower? Your super weakness? It’d be super helpful if we could both literally read the other’s mind.

Random Fun Fact — Wild Round!! (aka have a random fun fact? Please share!) The name 7TILL8 refers to the glass-off hour, which is when the winds die down and the ocean looks smooth and glassy. During the California summer, it usually happens between 7–8pm. We consider those the perfect conditions and it’s our favorite time to get in the water.

About Grid110

Grid110 provides mentoring & key resources for early-stage entrepreneurs in underserved regions. We support early-stage companies by connecting them to office space, mentors, and important resources during the most critical phase of their business life-cycle through education programs.

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Emmanuel Chan

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Program Lead, Grid110

Grid110

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Updates and news from the Grid110 community