I'm pretty sold on the suits. To me they are everything they claim to be. When I put em on, I feel like I shed 10 years. Here is an article from the Union Tribune, almost 2 years ago, about the beginning. I still think they are pretty focused on their original goal and are doing a great job.
Two Founders Want to Avoid Growing Too Big Too Fast
Sunday, January 28th, 2007 By David Berlin
January 28, 2007
Matt Larson and John Campbell, founders of the San Diego-based wet suit company Matuse, still get goose bumps when they talk about visiting Japan to get a special kind of rubber for their wet suits.
“It was like meeting Elvis or something,” Larson said.
Land is at a premium in Japan, but the home they were visiting in the suburbs of Osaka had gardens and orchards and a giant pond with a bridge.
As the business partners walked in the door and took off their shoes in adherence to Japanese custom, they heard classical music twanging in the background. “You just knew something special was going to happen,” Larson said.
And in came Kiichi Yamamoto, founder of Yamamoto Corp. and now in his 80s.
Yamamoto and his company have created rubber materials for everything from the Apollo 11 spacecraft to modern cancer-research equipment.
Campbell and Larson, both 26 years old, use the special rubber to make what they call “the Rolls-Royce of wet suits.”
“It was just a totally surreal moment because it was kind of the culmination of a lot of long nights and, like, hoping and praying and wondering if we could reach that stage,” Campbell said on collaborating with Yamamoto.
Campbell, a Del Mar native who graduated from Torrey Pines High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in English at Dartmouth University, was a textiles exporter before founding Matuse.
Larson, originally from Long Beach, had been in the retail industry since he was 15, and had previously worked as a concept designer for big-name surf industry companies such as Body Glove and Excel.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University and a master’s degree in philosophy from UC San Diego.
Meeting through work, the two hit it off and started talking at a local Starbucks about materials that could make a better wet suit. In the summer of 2005, they founded Matuse.
A typical wet suit is made of neoprene, a petroleum-based material that is also used to make mouse pads and beer cozies. Matuse wet suits, with Yamamoto rubber, are made from an environmentally friendly material.
The rubber is made from limestone instead of petroleum and is designed to last almost four times longer than neoprene, Campbell and Larson said. Average wet suits cost about $80. Matuse suits, which are manufactured in China, are about $150.
“They’re 40 to 50 percent more expensive but 100 percent better,” said Dylan Farr, an associate buyer at ZJ Boarding House in Santa Monica, one of the largest surf shops in the country.
“Matuse has a pretty good suit for someone that’s just come out of nowhere – it keeps you warm, has good performance, and not a lot of rashing.”
The plan is to avoid growing too big too fast, Larson said.
“When we talked about our philosophy at Starbucks, we talked about developing principles that go with that,” Larson said.
“We’re not in any rush to develop products. We want to make sure that everything we do is very well-thought-out, meticulous, and well-designed, so that when people look at our logos, that’s exactly what it personifies.”
As for the meaning of Matuse, the name isn’t culture-specific. Japanese people think it’s a Japanese word and Italians have thought it’s Italian, Campbell said.
Campbell and Larson are the only official employees at Matuse, but they were quick to point out that a number of people have helped them.
Campbell’s father, also named John B. Campbell, is a founding partner and provides most of the funding for the startup company. He also provides space for his son and Larson at his law offices near Sorrento Valley.
Several professional surfers have helped promote the Matuse name. La Jolla native and former Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam is a shareholder in the Matuse venture.
Former Procter & Gamble director Jamie Wallace of Rancho Santa Fe sits on the board of advisers, as does Fred Marinello, Campbell’s high school art teacher.
In San Diego, Matuse suits are available at Mitch’s Surf Shops in Solana Beach and La Jolla and the Point Loma Board Room.
“Our approach to things does set us apart. (Surfers) want something that’s not going to fail on them. A lot of other companies, I’m not sure they were pushing the envelope,” Campbell said. “It’s ichiban.”
Ichiban is a Japanese word that loosely translates into “being the best,” Campbell said.
“We’ve got to be ichiban ichiban ichiban!”
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