We met Fede Savinon, the Creator & Proprietor of Hoppy Beer Hoppy Life, at the Heroes Brewfest in Point Loma. Hoppy Beer Hoppy Life is a Beer Lifestyle & Apparel brand based locally in SoCal. HBHL gear has an inherent coolness too it. Reminiscent of brands like Iron & Resin in Ventura or Seaweed & Gravel in Encinitas HBHL gear feels like that favorite t-shirt or hat that you’ve lived-in for years even brand new. A graphic designer by trade Fede does all the product designs himself, and runs his company out of a home office. A true local small business.
Fede had a booth where his HBHL gear was out for sale. His lovely wife’s smile made it easy to approach. The Hoppy Beer Hoppy Life branded gear was cool & just about everything on the table was something we wanted in our closet. After a quick chat he became our Random Bearded Man last week. That chance meeting led to a series of e-mails which led to lunch beers at Harbortown Pub in Point Loma.
Over Sudwork Dry Hopped Lagers & Ahi Poke Tostada we talked about how Hoppy Beer Hoppy Life came to be, the proliferation of beer lifestyle brands and, of course, beer. Then we continued the conversation from his home office & creative space in Point Loma. Fede was quick to offer up a Ninkasi Dawn of the Red & share his visions for the future of beer gear brands. This is a partial recounting of that conversation.
SoCal Sessions: Was there like a moment you came up with that phrase or was it a philosophy you were already working on.
HBHL: It came across my brain like four years ago I want to say. I was at work. I was working on something not very cool. My mind just wandered, and I came up with that. and then, I remember like, oh yeah, “Happy Wife, Happy Life”. So that must be where I got it from… About a year later I put it down on paper, then on the computer, and then I’m like, ‘I like the way this looks. I like the way it sounds.’ It’s my favorite beer. IPA’s are my favorite. I passed it around to some family, friends, other co-workers and they were all, “I like it. It’s cool. I love it.” It was all positive reinforcement basically from the start.
Then I put in like $250. I called a company in LA, cause they were the cheapest, and ordered like 100 t-shirts. (laughs) It was the original logo. This was it. This is what started it all. That is the main one, where everything came out of. And they sold!
SoCal Sessions: Did you just sell them to people you knew? Did they go online right away?
HBHL: Friends & Family like never really jumped on board because they don’t have that passion that I have for beer (Laughs). If they’re going to drink a beer they just go for the lightest one…
But it went really well (sales). It was East Coast. They were the biggest supporters right off the bat, and they still are. But I thought it (the brand) was California, California-based. This is the mecca of hoppy beer.
SoCal Sessions: We met at a festival, do you do those regularly?
HBHL: I’ve been wanting to do them from the beginning but I was still employed for someone else. And I didn’t want to bug my wife. Shannon is amazing. The nicest person you’ll ever meet. She would have said, “Yeah, I’ll help you. Let’s go do this on the weekends or after work.” And I just couldn’t do that too her, and I didn’t really want to do that either cause I really like our weekends to be weekends, you know? Then about a year ago I just concentrated on Hoppy Beer Hoppy Life. Period. And then we started doing the events. Now we’re going to do as many as possible. The next one is in Hollywood. It’s concerts and beer. (Editor’s note: Hollywood Beer and Music Fest, 8/8).
I’m super excited right now, and hopefully I stay this excited over the next two years. I don’t ever want this to be a competition or business mentality. I know you need that. I know you’re supposed to have it, but I’m going to try something different. – Fede Savinon
SoCal Sessions: Right now we’re in the middle of this Beer Lifestyle brand explosion.
HBHL: Yeah, it’s starting to pick up!
SoCal Sessions: But you’ve been doing it since 2012. Do you think that is room for all these brands? Because you’re not only competing with other beer lifestyle brands but also with the breweries themselves who’ve really upgraded their gear.
HBHL: Well, I’ve met a couple other guys who are doing what I’m doing, or at least similar stuff. Even though they’re similar, we’re still so different that the group that is going to like my look isn’t going to like what they’re doing. So, I think they’re is plenty of room. And probably vice versa as well. The people who like their stuff are not attracted to my style either. So, I think we’re good. As long as everybody stays friendly it should be cool. (laughs)
SoCal Sessions: So you like IPA’s now, but do you remember what your first craft beer was? What the first beer that brought over to the craft side?
HBHL: I don’t know if it was called “Craft Beer” back then. It was just called “Good Beer”. I still love that term. I prefer saying, “Good Beer” other than “Craft Beer” because craft beer just reminds me of arts and crafts kind of stuff. I don’t have anything against that but I still just like to call it “Good Beer.” I like good beer.
I want to say the first exposure was in college, and it was a friends beer.
SoCal Sessions: Fred’s Beer?
HBHL: A friend’s beer. Friends were brewing their own beer, and I thought it was the greatest thing. And it was IPA! From there, it was just exploring. Any IPA we could get our hands on we would try it. I think the first one [craft beer] that was commercial was from Europe. It was, what’s the brand? Samuel Smith? I loved every one of the beers I tried from them. From then on. It’s what I do now. Just try as many (IPAs) as I can. I love every other type of beer, but IPA is my go to beer.
SoCal Sessions: With HBHL on the website you state that your first design is still the most popular. Still true?
HBHL: Yeah, but there are others catching up. The “State of Mind” is a really popular one. The “Bear” one is really popular. The “Anchor” one. Everyone loves anchors, and then when I added the double taps to it. I was like, “Aww, that’s perfect. I love it.” And I’m a fan of anchors too.
SoCal Sessions: Is there a place you go to get inspiration for these new designs?
HBHL: A lot of them came out of my brain consecutively in like 2-3 days. I came up with like 20 designs. And I still like all of them. I started with the original. Then, from there I did two more after that. But, I’ve had them forever. I think it was just like embedded in my brain from everything I’ve liked and I’ve seen since I moved here to the U.S.
SoCal Sessions: Where do you see your brand going?
HBHL: My plan for is to double sales, that is just me guessing. I’m pretending to be a business guy, in the next year and a half. And once I get there…everything changes. Now, I’m a different category. You’re no longer at the bottom, trying, at the beginning. If I get a little lucky, because luck is so much of this, in 1 1/2 to 2 years I want to be comfortably running Hoppy Beer Hoppy Life for the rest of my life.
Of course, there are all these little plans and secrets I’ve got in the back of my head to keep going with. Stepping stones. I’m super excited right now, and hopefully I stay this excited over the next two years. I don’t ever want this to be a competition or business mentality. I know you need that. I know you’re supposed to have it, but I’m going to try something different.
I hope people love it. I hope they like it. I don’t want any animosity between people doing similar stuff. My best wishes to them. I hope they sell more than me. I just want this to be this.