GTPulse: Frankfort Clothing Company Inspired by Michigan Surf Culture

The first time Rod Robertson went surfing he was in Michigan.

“I didn’t start until my early 20s, but I had met some people in the town of Frankfort and one of them was a surfer. We got along really well, and I was really into skateboarding and snowboarding so when I got into the water I was hooked off the bat.”

He grew up in Empire and is currently in Frankfort where he lives the active outdoor life that inspires his sustainably made clothing company Fall Children Surf Co.

Michigan surfing relies on winds and not storm systems to produce waves. Summer waves in Michigan are usually smaller than they are in colder months, making fall to winter the best time to catch more substantial waves.

“The name, Fall Children Surf Company had been in my mind for a while. You can surf all year round on the lakes, but the best time is typically in the fall around November and December. The fall is our extended summer, it’s where we get out there and play.”

Rod had fallen so in love with surfing that he spent 10 years going down to Puerto Rico every winter to teach lessons. That same friend who had gotten Rod surfing on the lakes got a job managing a surf resort. 

“It was kind of like a hostel. They had hotel rooms and did surf lessons and board rentals out of there too, so you could kind of immerse yourself in it. I went down there and was only supposed to be there for 10 days or something. They ended firing a guy and asking me if I wanted to stay down there for the winter and teach. I had taught snowboarding for a while before that so the transition felt pretty natural.”

He only recently gave up his winters in Puerto Rico in favor of staying home in Frankfort full time. But he uses his time appreciating the place he calls home and working on his clothing designs. 

Fall Children Surf Co. started in August of last year, and with the pandemic, has spent its infancy as an online-only business. Rod is proud of the brand he’s created that features sustainably made clothing that uses organic and recycled materials. The clothing brand carries t-shirts, beanies, lightweight sweaters and joggers, hats, sweatshirts, and other pieces of apparel.

“I work in retail. I come from a third-generation t-shirt and sweatshirt shop, so I have all the knowledge and understanding of it. Over the summer, I thought why not? It’s better than wondering and thinking about the possibilities all the time. Going into it, I wanted to go really big. But as I’ve been developing it online, I’m actually really happy with that. In the spring and the summer, I’d like to hit some of the surf shops around the Great Lakes and try to get some product in there. That’s the next step.”

Building and starting Fall Children Surf Co. has been a way for Rod to show his love for the Michigan surf culture that inspires him daily. He’s watched the surfing craze in Northern Michigan gain momentum since the early 2000s and is excited to see more people fall in love with the sport just as he did.

“I’m just seeing a whole new generation of surfers coming out. It’s great to see people out there on those days where we have good waves. I’m proud to be a part of something that’s special for so many people.”

Check out Fall Children Surf Co. here at their website.


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Categories: GTPulse