“I do have a really good loyal customer base … People that I’ve grown up with and have known my whole life are now my customers … They have really supported me.”
– Claude Pope III of Bald Head Blues
by Mimi Montgomery
photograph by Eric Waters
Third generation Raleighite Claude Pope III grew up spending summers on Bald Head Island with his family. After college, the College of Charleston graduate took his love of golf to the West Coast, working as a professional caddy at Cypress Point in Pebble Beach and Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles. He developed a deep affinity for golf apparel, but could never find a brand that combined his love of the links with his love for Southern beach life.
After returning home to Raleigh, he decided to come up with a brand all his own. He and his father joined forces as business partners, and in spring 2014, Bald Head Blues was born. The line originally started with T-shirts and men’s polo shirts, shorts, and button downs, as well as women’s tunics and blouses. It now carries boxers, pullovers, bathing suits, sweaters, and more. All are emblazoned with his signature trademarked logo: a golf cart with a surfboard on the roof. Pope says his customers love the logo; it embodies what it means to live frills-free and relaxed on the island, where there are no cars and people get around via golf carts loaded with beach chairs and boogie boards. This specific homage sets him apart from the critter logos of other preppy lifestyle brands on the market. “There’s so many brands out there that don’t have a compelling story,” Pope says. “I’m telling the Bald Head Island story … I’m selling the lifestyle of what it’s like to live life on the island.”
The brand was launched from its flagship store on Bald Head, but has since expanded into Pope’s hometown of Raleigh: He recently just moved out of his Five Points store location, and is scouting a new local venue store to sell his products and other local Raleigh jewelry and clothing brands. You can also find the line in 60 stores across the country from Tucson, Ariz. to the Hamptons, N.Y. And its presence is growing: Shep Rose and Craig Conover of the Bravo reality television show Southern Charm are both returning for another season as brand ambassadors, and Raleigh professional golfer Grayson Murray will be representing the brand on the Web.com tour, as well.
On Bald Head Island: 8 Maritime Way; baldheadblues.com