Jacob Cross is the CEO of Maritime Hustle, a brand since worn and represented by celebrated East coast figures like Randy and Leahy from the rowdy series Trailer Park Boys. For Cross, it’s not about the clothing – it’s about bringing people together in a way that celebrates all the East coast has to offer.
“You could have everyone from a homeless guy to the soccer mom wearing my stuff. It’s for everybody – we want to bring awareness to this inter-provincial community that we’re building as a support system for maritime culture, talent and business,” said Cross.
Cross started building up his company in November 2014, and sold his first official product in the Spring of 2015. Growing up in Dartmouth, he witnessed a lot of hardship and poverty.
Although he grew up well-provided for, Cross saw many of his friends struggling just to eat or stay warm. The misfortune he saw in Dartmouth built up a compassion in Cross for communities across the Maritimes. He didn’t know it at the time, but this compassion would fuel his company. Regardless of the struggle, Cross saw a level of resilience in his community unheard of in other parts of Canada.
“That’s where our model of cultural solidarity comes from – we’ve got to stick together – hard times – that’s why maritimers are the friendliest, hardest working people in the world. I wanted to bring that all back,” said Cross.
He said the company can work as a segway for maritime talent. Up-and-coming artists are encouraged to use his business as a platform for their work. A singer in need of networking can gain ground, for example, by sharing videos or songs on the company’s Facebook page – which currently has 3,697 ‘likes’.
“To be able to stay in the maritimes and make it, and do what you like – get noticed – that’s Maritime Hustle,” said Cross. “Everybody is going through the same thing in some way or another and we have to stick together.”
Maritime Hustle has sponsored Nova Scotia’s own Tyson Cave, Fredericton’s Jake Allen (who plays in the NHL for the St. Louis Blues), and even DJ Yella from N.W.A., a famous american hip hop group.
Cave was the first boxer from the province to win a world title on home soil in Dartmouth. Just like in the movies, Cross walked with Cave down the aisle to the boxing ring – Cave was sporting custom-made Maritime Hustle goods. Cross was proud and happy to support a fellow maritimer.
“The list of famous maritimers is not that big, compared to other places – but there’s definitely heart and soul here. When you live in that kind of environment like the maritimes, you get close with other people.”
Cross isn’t the first maritimer with an entrepreneurial spirit – but he’s not in it for the money. The 28 year-old was busy firing off emails and excitedly looking over his photographer’s shoulder just before the interview began. For Cross, this ‘hustle’ is the pay-off. Networking in a culture he cares about is what makes Maritime Hustle’s wheel go round.
While researching for his company, Cross came across a very old captain’s log dated somewhere in the 1800s. It journaled a trip into the Halifax harbour at a time when steamships were all the rage. Cross found a line he couldn’t forget, and the harbour was full with maritime hustle. This bustling reminds Cross he’s in the same boat – except one where artists, arts and culture are integrated into business in a way that actually works.
“I love doing this – nothing feels better. Yes, it is a clothing line – but Maritime Hustle is moreso a community – it’s a lifestyle at the end of the day.”