From the tip of the panhandle to southernmost point of Key West, we love Florida! At 44 Fish, it’s our aim to create merchandise representative of the best the state has to offer—whether on the water or the land. We’ve created designs—highlighting the beauty of our state, sometimes with a touch of humor. Our intention is to bring this all together with quality, affordable products. Over the years, we’ve seen our share of tacky Florida souvenirs. No coconut monkeys here!
This is only the beginning. As a characteristic Florida souvenir, graphic t-shirts are the start. We plan to add more apparel and accessories that inspire us to “catch Florida” whether you’re a resident or a visitor!
Our Fish Tale
George’s family has its roots in Florida, specifically, Tarpon Springs—the small town on the Gulf Coast that, from its earliest days was known as a winter retreat for northern visitors. At the turn of the 20th century, Tarpon Springs would become the epicenter of commercial sponge fishing through the “hard-hat” method used by Greek immigrants who, upon settling, also brought their faith, traditions, and culture. George grew up steps from the Sponge Docks with an early inclination for the sights, sounds, and aromas of activity there. That sense has always remained.
Melissa’s family moved around and traveled a lot while she grew up. They finally settled in and called California home (another state with lots of sunshine!). In her many travels, she developed a strong aversion for cheap souvenirs and appreciated things that had more of a local-origin story. Hmmm. Sounds like that might’ve led to something. And during a visit to Florida someone told her, “Once you get Florida sand in your shoes, you’ll be back.” It turned out to be prophetic.
George and Melissa’s paths crossed—in Massachusetts, actually. They would fall in love, get married, and be blessed with a son. As the years passed, the family began to conceptualize a business that would offer quality, stylish products worthy of the town and state they call home—and that’s how the idea of 44 Fish was born.
Fast forward to the present and, in every way, we are now a family-run company—yes, even our pre-teen son loves helping out. And we invite you to join us in our mission to encourage all to “Catch Florida” —a slogan that not only means enjoying the sunny climate, amazing natural resources, and attractions that draw millions every year; but also to recognize the incredible people that live, work, and visit here.
What’s in a Name?
“What does 44 Fish mean?” It’s a question we get all the time! The name derives from two elements with deep-rooted associations from George’s early childhood:
Forty-four was a favorite number, worn by a star running back at Tarpon Springs High School in the early 1970s. I still remember how the crowd buzzed when he carried the ball. To further solidify my fondness for the number, it was also the number of the local TV channel that broadcast many of the programs my generation eagerly watched after school and on Saturday mornings.
As for fish, well, that’s a bit less obscure. Growing up, fish were all around me—from the Anclote River, Tarpon Springs’ bayous, the flats areas near the coast, and the Gulf’s deeper waters. It doesn’t really matter where you are in Florida; you aren’t far from fish! They are majestic creatures and a large part of the state’s appeal and character.
So—we combined the number 44 with the word Fish and loved how these two words represented Florida to us in a very personal way. We also loved the sound of it! We hope you do too!