FENWICK ISLAND, Md. (AP) — For many people, 302 or 410 are simply the first three digits dialed on the phone when calling friends or family.
For Salty Project ltd., the numbers mean more. The T-shirt company sells shirts in three area codes — 302, 410 and 910 — and the three digits included on each shirt allow people to both represent and support their communities.
Salty Project donates 15 percent of its gross revenue to organizations within the area code the shirts are purchased, according to Justin Brooks-Ward, who co-owns, co-founded and co-operates the company with Sam Svenson.
"We look to support people-based charities," Brooks-Ward said.
The main charities that benefit from sales are The Justin W. Jennings Foundation in Delaware's 302 area code, the PJ Aldridge Foundation in Maryland's 410 area code and Ocean Cure in North Carolina's 910 area code, but the company has also raised money for other charities in those communities. The 410 area code is a new market for Salty Project and so are sales at South Moon Under's Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach locations.
The Justin W. Jennings Foundation provides a vacation home in Bethany Beach for families who have a member battling cancer; the PJ Aldridge Foundation aids research with funds and supports education and awareness about lung cancer; and Carolina Beach, N.C.'s Ocean Cure offers free surf lessons for those who are "medically fragile and at-risk," according to the organizations' respective websites.
"We try to find charities that are more intimately involved with the community," Brooks-Ward said.
Jordan Calloway, marketing director for the PJ Aldridge Foundation, said a lot of area businesses have been supportive of the Ocean City-based nonprofit. She said the organization's namesake, PJ Aldridge, is of Ocean City and was told he only had three months to live, but it's been a little more than three years so far.
While donations are helpful, she said it's more important that people are aware of the organization and its mission.
"Anything that gets our name out there, hands down, is a plus," she said.
The idea for Salty Project came about in 2009 when Brooks-Ward and Svenson talked about the poverty they'd seen traveling the world surfing, along with how they felt lucky to have grown up in southern Delaware. They lived in North Carolina when they started the idea, and Brooks-Ward now lives in Fenwick Island. One of their friends had made a shirt that had an area code and "salty" on it, and they realized they could help their communities while supporting local artists.
By January of the next year, he said there were 30 self-screen printed shirts for each of the 302 and 910 area codes, and the concept got a good response.
"It had such great potential to generate a stream of revenue that goes from the community right back to the community," Brooks-Ward said.
And Salty Project has grown. Brooks-Ward said last year, the company sold about 600 shirts, and he hopes to double that number this year.
While most of the shirts are for men, the company branched out into women's items last fall, and Brooks-Ward said the plan is to have a more in-depth line of clothing for women. He said another goal is to offer shirts in more area codes.
Salty Project made nearly $700 in charitable donations in 2011 and just more than $475 in 2010, according to Brooks-Ward.
Tai Camper, a buyer for South Moon Under, said the Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach stores received their first Salty Project shirts in early- to mid-June. The same four styles are available at either location — with the 410 or 302 area code depending on the state — as well as online.
The T-shirt with the octopus graphic has been the most popular, she said, and in its first week on the floor, 40 percent of that item was sold.
There was "a phenomenal initial response on the item," Camper said.
She called the octopus T-shirt a "home run" due to the fact that it's sold by the coast and because of the color combination.
"I would have to say the southern gentleman (T-shirt) is probably one of my favorites," she said.
In addition to those two shirts, South Moon Under also sells a wave T-shirt and a whale T-shirt.
Shirts are also for sale at Fenwick Island Surf Shop, Bikini's & More in Fenwick Island and Surf City Surf Shop in Wrightsville Beach, N.C.