Canfield native dives into dreams in Florida
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of Saturday profiles of area residents and their stories. To suggest a profile, contact Burton Cole at email@example.com.
By ASHLEY FOX
BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — If Canfield High School graduate Mitch Fusek has any advice, it is to follow your dreams.
“Don’t wait for ‘perfect,'” he said.
Mitch is co-founder of Tunaskin, a line of aquatic apparel. He cannonballed right into the entrepreneurial waters rather than dipping a toe.
Fusek and a Floridian friend decided to put the initial product out, making adjustments afterward. “Just getting started, getting movement, is the most important thing,” he said.
Mitch’s mother, Brenda Fusek of Canfield, said that the entrepreneurial trait was grown throughout Mitch’s childhood by his paternal grandmother, Vera.
Brenda recalled the time when her son was a little fish in his own little pond and expressed he wanted his own hockey team, naming the team The Flashes. Vera got her grandson a baseball hat, and together they made an emblem for the nonexistent team.
“She fed him,” Brenda said. “He would bring up an idea, and she would work with him, drawing the idea out, building on it.”
Mitch echoed the sentiment, saying that Vera encouraged him to go out and try new things.
Besides his grandmother’s boosts, Mitch said growing up next door to his grandparents on a farm helped mold his work ethic and mindset.
“You have to work hard and you don’t have a choice,” he said.
Watching his grandfather, Mike, grow, bale then sell hay inspired Mitch, he said, noting that there was something about the concept of having a product that others would buy.
Mitch said that something else for those looking at a new venture should keep something else in mind.
“If you’re not embarrassed by your first product, you waited too long to start.”
Is he embarrassed by his first product? Yes.
“I look back at our first shirts, and I’m embarrassed. It’s not what I envisioned for today,” Mitch said.
It shows, though, that he took the first step, which can be scary, he said.
At the end of the day, it’s all about sticking to an idea and making it happen.
“The secret sauce is being committed and making an effort,” Mitch said.
Graduating from Canfield High School in 2001, Mitch attended Malone University. After college, he and a group of friends from high school moved to Florida.
“We had a support system,” he said, noting that knowing friends in a new setting helped with the transition.
He quickly learned that not being around friends and family he knew his whole life was different.
“When you move away, you take your home support for granted. You realize it’s a little bit different if you didn’t grow up there,” Mitch said.
Tunaskin came about after Mitch met a fellow water enthusiast. Having similar interests, the duo took up the same activities, eventually discussing something they saw.
“We noticed no one was targeting performance textiles for water sports,” Mitch said, which allowed them to turn their passions into a profession.
Brenda said the idea was sparked by misfortune: “Mitch and his friend Bill Bronsord loved to go fishing and one time they launched Bill’s boat in Fort Lauderdale and drove to Bimini Island in the Bahamas. They got caught in a bad storm and their clothes got soaked from the rain.
“They got to thinking that they should develop clothing that would be lightweight, quick-drying fabric with UPF sun protection and keep you cool and comfortable no matter what the condition,” she said. “Long story short, over many years of trying different fabrics and designs, they started an online business called Tunaskin in 2010.”
Mitch said that between 2009 and 2015, he worked two jobs trying to achieve his goal. Now they have stores in Fort Myers Beach, Sarasota and Key West besides their company headquartered in Bonita Springs.
Now a bigger fish in an even bigger pond, Mitch said there are obstacles to overcome living in Florida.
“Its been quite a journey. There have been challenges along the way, but that’s the ability to overcome,” he said.