Getting Real with Reel Rebel


Sandy Zapata and her son Jeffrey are the masterminds behind one of the area's best Sport Fishing Apparel companies, Reel Rebel. If you have attended a festival in the last few years in Jax Beach, Neptune or Atlantic Beaches you have surely seen Sandy and crew displaying Reel Rebel shirts, hats, stickers and smiles. Her energy and dedication to creating a better community are contagious. Sandy learned at an early age that fishing with family and friends was a great way to spend a day outdoors.  What she didn't know was that it would become a way of life for her and her family. The shared love of spending time on and around the water created tight bonds that get stronger every year. 

With companies like Reel Rebel calling it home, NE Florida is truly becoming a hub for creative entrepreneurs to shine. Reel Rebel is a hit! Not only is their line of outdoor wear comfortable, colorful and cool, but now their Chubby Mermaid line is "giving back" to the manatees that we all love! You can read a little more about it here and we look forward to spotting you around town in your Reel Rebel gear!

We had the opportunity to ask Sandy a few questions and dive a little deeper into the Reel Rebel world.

We know that you love it here in NE Florida.  How long have you called it home? 

I moved to Florida in 1989. 30 yrs!!

When did you start Reel Rebel? 


How did you come up with your great company name? 

One day driving around I started thinking about starting a company with my son Jeffery and just kept playing on words and that's when Reel Rebel popped into my mind.  After thinking on it for a bit, it was perfect.  I feel like that we all are pretty strong minded and have our own way of doing things but are still open to each others ideas.  We respect each others opinions which allows us to work through things and accomplish what's best for the family and company.  Reel Rebel isn't just for fishing in mind but everything coastal.  I grew up crabbing, fishing, boating and so have my kids.  We are very blessed and live in Neptune Beach and always have enjoyed the outdoors.  

How is it working with your son? Is he a "Reel Rebel?" 


I love working with the family. Even though Reel Rebel was started with my son in mind, I have 2 girls who love everything coastal as well.  We all have our different strengths and that allows us to have fun and enjoy doing RR together.  The festivals that we have done are a lot of work but we really enjoy going and spending time together and meeting different people.

Do you like to fish with your family?

Love it!  I grew up fishing in Charleston, South Carolina with family and friends and I hadn't really done it in a long time until starting back with my son.  I'm hooked.  We actually have taken a couple road trips to Louisiana in the past year and love sharing time with him and friends.

How do you decide on the images for your awesome line of apparel? Are you the artistic one in the company?  

Being fairly new, we are still building on the designs but really love our logo and how it looks on the shirts.  We are continually trying to create different things that we think will work for everyone who enjoys fishing and the outdoors.  We want people to feel comfortable in our clothing that they can wear it out in the boat, fishing or in their everyday activities. 

As a local small business owner, what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs that want to start a side-gig?  

My husband laughs at me some times with my little tag line....Dream until your dreams come true.  It is a lot of hard work starting up a business on the side because of time and money!!  I work on RR after hours and weekends but waiting for that day when we can say we did it and commit to it full time .  It is my dream to be successful with RR and share it with my family!  Jeffery works full time in the AC industry and Courtney is a student in college. My other daughter Ashley lives further south but is always included with helping on our new ideas.

We all know that friends and family love to visit us here in Florida.  When you have out of town guests, what do you like to do with them, locally? 

We hang out at home, cookout  and enjoy our great beach!  We live in Neptune Beach and just love hanging out and relaxing on the beach.  

Do you have a favorite restaurant around here?  

There are so many great restaurants around that it would be hard to choose one.  The Atlantic Beach Town Center would be our go to.  

We always love to find out what is on the bucket list of our friends. Can you let us know a few things that you want to do this year?  

I'm not really sure if I have a bucket list at the moment but for this year we would like to get the name Reel Rebel out there a lot more and hopefully get into some retail places. We also would like to do a coastal clean up with the community.  We love our beaches and there seems to be a problem with trash.  We have also discovered other places along our waterways that we might focus on but still looking into what we feel like we could have the most impact.

I think that I would like to catch a really big bull right here out of Jacksonville.  Jeffery and I had taken a couple fishing trips to Louisiana and the Reds were everywhere.  I caught one that was almost 28 inches so I would love to try and see if I can beat that.

If you could choose anywhere in the world, where is your dream location for fishing?

Costa Rica or any where tropical. 

One of Sandy's bucket list items is a local Coastal Clean-up and you can count the FlipperSplash team in on helping to make that dream come true!! Just name the place and time, Sandy, we'll partner with you ANYTIME!

You can join the Reel Rebel community on Instagram @reelrebel904