How the Tofino Towel Co. Found Success in a Roundabout Way

How Gledon Evans and Devin Sorenson turned an idea into a popular, distinctly West Coast business. 

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Glendon Evans (left) and Devin Sorenson (right) of Tofino Towel Co. Photograph by Jeffrey Bosdet.

Devin Sorenson knew he couldn’t let a good thing go. Back in 2008, while Sorenson was enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce and Entrepreneurial Management program at Royal Roads University, his student team won a business-case competition judged by a panel of business professionals in British Columbia. The idea? A round beach towel conceived of by Sorenson and his father during a late-night brainstorm. A round towel meant more room for belongings and put an end to constantly having to adjust one’s towel to be in the sun.

“The judges thought we could be the next Lululemon,” says Sorenson. “But it was just an idea on paper. The team had never gone through the manufacturing process, so it didn’t develop beyond that.”

Five years later — after marrying a woman from Australia and travelling there to meet her family — he discovered a round towel at a beach boutique in Byron Bay. Inspired to revisit his business plan, Sorenson learned no one in North America was offering a round beach towel.

At the time, Sorenson was working with Glendon Evans, who encouraged him to pursue the concept. Evans found the only manufacturer of round towels in the world, at that time, and the two worked together to create Tofino Towel Co.

“I grew up on Vancouver Island and the brand is based on the West Coast lifestyle that we like to live,” Sorenson says. “[Our brand] got found through social media and we have great sales representation, so we were able to lock down the Canadian market right away. We ended up in 200 stores across Canada in six months.”

The market has now become hypercompetitive, with other round towels available in Canada — but Sorenson and Evans know they have a unique offering.

“We collaborate with local artists, such as Roy Henry Vickers, and West Coast brands to keep our brand fresh,” Sorenson says. “Our products are original, versatile and functional works of art.”

This article is from the June/July 2018 issue of Douglas.