The Products Fair Harbor Founder Jake Danehy Can’t Live Without

Including noise-canceling headphones, ultra-stretch denim and a five-gallon aquarium

May 20, 2024 11:03 am
A collage of the products that Jake Danehy, Fair Harbor co-founder, can't live without
"I meditate every morning for at least 15 minutes," he says. A certain pair of headphones comes in handy.

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Welcome to our series where we sit down and chat with cool, influential and interesting people who have great taste, to hear about the products they love the most.

Jake Danehy grew up going to Fair Harbor, a small beach community out on New York’s Fire Island, and credits his affinity for the ocean and surfing — Danehy has since hung ten all around the world, from Costa Rica to Indonesia — to the cheeky patch of sand. He also admits that it served as inspiration for his apparel company; not that he needs to, as he even named the brand after it.

Fair Harbor, which Jake and his sister Caroline founded in 2014 out of their parents’ basement, was created in large part to protect its namesake beach that the Danehys grew up swimming and surfing at. “Fair Harbor was basically a glorified sandbar, so if plastic waste wasn’t disposed of correctly, it ended up there,” Jake says. “We started to notice more plastic washing up on the shore when we got older, and ultimately wanted to do something about it, and that’s when the idea for help was born.”

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As he puts it, the operation quickly spiraled from small-scale swim trunks to something bigger than they could have ever imagined. “The objective of Fair Harbor was to create a platform to help promote the mitigation of single-use plastics, tied to our love of the beach, and Fair Harbor,” he explains. “I love surfing, and ultimately, that’s why our best-selling board short was our first product, made directly out of recycled plastic bottles. That was about 10 years ago, and it’s been a hell of a journey since. We’ve recycled over 36 million plastic bottles, sold millions of shorts and we feel like we’re just getting started.”

That idea has since grown into a behemoth of a swim and lifestyle brand, with an expansive stock of apparel — InsideHook’s favorite swim trunks among them — and millions of pounds of plastic waste recycled. The brand just dropped 6” inseams for their icon Anchor Short, and there’s a just-launched 10 Year Aniversary Capsule — a full range of rashguards, board shorts, swim trunks and a new women’s swim line to celebrate 10 years of Fair Harbor.

With summer on the horizon and the beach calling, we chatted with the Fair Harbor co-founder and avid surfer about some of his favorite everyday items, including noise-canceling headphones, a sleek cast iron skillet, Fair Harbor’s just-relaunched denim and a five-gallon fish tank. Here, in his own words, are the products Jake Danehy can’t live without.

“In high school, I read two books, The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, and Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. They both got me thinking about being mindful and living in the moment, and they completely changed my perspective on meditation and generally worrying about the things that I can’t control. 

“I started meditating — doing mindfulness meditations, focusing on breath work — after that, and used it all through college, where I played Division I lacrosse as a goalie. As my dad always says, ‘You have to have the mind of a goldfish.’ As in, you have to forget. In some games I would let in 10 or 15 goals, because lacrosse is a very high-scoring sport, but you just have to let it go and move on to the next one.

“I think that’s what meditation really has allowed me to do. It’s helped in my business life, too. There’s a lot of things I can’t control at my job, every day is a new challenge. So I meditate every morning for at least 15 minutes. I use the Calm app to listen to nature sounds. The app times me, so I do it for 15 minutes in the mornings, right when I wake up, and I use my noise-canceling headphones to remove all the sounds of the city and get my mind right for the day.”

“Being an athlete [growing up and in college], health and wellness have been something important to me throughout my whole life, and, honestly, the last few years I haven’t been able to prioritize it as much with everything going on with Fair Harbor — it’s been very busy. Athletic Greens helps me get my vitamins and nutrients in one hit. I get them all in the morning and then I feel much better throughout the day. Admittedly, I just do greens and water. CEO grindset.”

“My fiance and I have two dogs — a nine-year-old schnauzer-Yorkie mix named Frankie and a miniature Australian Shepherd, Humphrey, who we got three weeks ago. Because she’s getting up there in age, we started feeding Frankie Farmer’s Dog. She was on some dry kibble before, and she’s really adapted and has a ton more energy. She’s now a little sassy in her old age. It’s been quite the transition.

“I’ve gotten hit with so many ads for Farmer’s Dog, but actually how it happened was: we ran into this woman walking around SoHo, who had an 18-year-old, super chipper dog, and she’s like, ‘I started feeding it Farmer’s Dog a year and a half ago, and it’s completely changed this dog’s behavior and just given a lot more energy.’ So we were like, let’s give that a shot for Frankie.”

“I moved in with my fiancée over a year ago, and before then, I just really didn’t cook much myself. I can make breakfast, but that’s pretty much it. When she moved in, she brought it in her stuff, including a Staub cast iron skillet. We’ve been making chicken and salmon — really simple dishes. It’s great because you literally turn on the stove and the cast iron almost instantly heats up. We do stir fry and stuff like that too, with Graza. It’s a twist bottle, so it’s very easy. My favorite meal is salmon — grilled salmon, sushi, baked, whatever — so we do as much of that as we can.”

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“A huge priority over the last few years has been to expand beyond swim. We are very good at men’s swim — I believe we’re the best at men’s swim, and we’ve sold millions of shorts — but Fair Harbor is so much more than that. 

“The brand is really built on protecting the places that you love. What we’re trying to do is make incredibly comfortable products that do good for the environment, and ones that you also feel good about wearing — leaning into that coastal heritage aesthetic. 

“We launched sustainable denim this past fall and did amazing — we sold out within six weeks — so we decided to reintroduce it in the spring. The denim is incredibly comfortable and is made more sustainably than traditional denim. Right now, our light wash denim and one of our soft T-shirts is my go-to look, one that’s very comfortable and innovative and uses sustainable fabrics.”

“I have a vintage 1978 SX-680 Pioneer amp, connected to our Music Hall turntable. It’s a modern turntable but connects to this vintage amp and speakers. I inherited my parents’ record collection when they moved, so I have all this amazing vinyl from Fleetwood Mac to Bruce Springsteen to Billy Joel to the Talking Heads. I started to add some of my own flavor into them — I love Caamp, Zach Bryan, Vance Joy, Jack Johnson. It’s been really fun to combine some of those old classics with these new artists who are still pressing on vinyl. 

“We also have a Sonos in our apartment, and with that, you’re just putting on a playlist, but when you listen to vinyl, you have to actually pay attention to what’s going on. You listen to a whole story, as opposed to just songs on shuffle, which makes for a cool experience.”

“I grew up surfing. It’s been my passion since I was six years old. In high school, I wasn’t able to as much, but when I was a freshman in college, I ended up going to Costa Rica on a surf trip, and that really reignited my love for surfing. I’ve had a short board since I was a kid — a six-foot Bunger — and when I was smaller, I would catch all these waves. However, when I started riding again in college, I couldn’t catch anything because I’d gotten a lot heavier. I got a six-foot Puddle Jumper, but I still wasn’t catching the waves that I wanted to; on the East Coast, they’re a bit mushier and a bit more inconsistent. 

“My uncle lives in New Hampshire, and every summer he goes to this place, Higgins Beach, which is down the coast from Portland, Maine. There are these brothers, the McDermotts, they have this awesome surf shop right on Higgins Beach. I ended up talking to them about the type of waves I like to ride, and they made me this great custom board. It’s got a Fair Harbor logo on it. It’s 6’11”. It has a quad fin, but also a single fin box, which gives so much versatility for the East Coast, and it’s pretty floaty and it’s got a lot of volume, which means that I can catch a ton of waves. It’s a great East Coast surfboard.”

“I’ve always loved fish and water. When I was in middle school, I dug a koi pond in my parents’ backyard — my parents were saints for letting me do any of this stuff — and any type of money I got as a kid, I would put towards building these fish environments in my house. We got a 90-gallon saltwater aquarium when I was in high school.

“I didn’t do anything for a couple of years, but then when I moved to my apartment, I was like, I’d love to get back into it. So I got a five-gallon freshwater aquarium and got really into aquascaping. There’s an aquarium store called Pacific Aquarium on Delancey — it’s a quick walk from my apartment, so, on Saturday mornings, I’ll go and see if there’s anything new, maybe get a plant or two. Neon tetras are probably my favorite [fish].”

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