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Chapter 21 - 40 Round Trips Driving To LA And Back To SF In One Year

Posted by Gerry Kelly on

We arrived back to San Francisco after our trip to Vegas. It was a costly trip, but another great learning experience about marketing, making appointments before trade shows, presentation, merchandising and on and on. Despite the meager orders we received, I was happy knowing that we now had some new contacts in LA in the garment business who were willing to work with us and help us perfect our product. Not many people wanted to take on such a complicated jean with over 50 individual pieces and it just so different than what they were used too. Manufacturers like easy money, simple cuts, and our jeans require some serious attention to detail, definitely not for everybody.


We had made a few jeans for “The Magic Trade Show” in Allen’s house which were ok but we knew we could do so much better when we weren't in such a major rush.

My next step was to do our production to LA and get some new jeans made there. It became a regular thing. I drove down nearly every week and stayed on Allen’s couch in a place called Sunland, not the coolest or nicest neighborhood in LA that’s for sure. It was about 30 miles from downtown LA but in my mind, that was a lot closer than San Francisco :)

Allen was sharing a house with two girls, whom were both called Nicky and both had dogs that pissed and shat all over the house. It was crazy. One morning, Allen came out of his room in his underpants and bare feet to get a glass of water from the kitchen and slipped in dog’s piss and hit the floor like ton of bricks, BOOM!!!!

He ended up being taken away in an ambulance with a seriously bad torn rotator cuff. No joke for a 70 year old guy trying to work on his dream of retirement. During the time he worked with us, Allen was in a lot of pain and definitely wasn’t in full spirits.

But despite his obstacles, Allen kept working with us on the jeans. I gotta give the old man credit, he’s as tough as nails.

Things weren't working out in the house in Sunland between Allen and his roommates (especially after the fall) so we had to find alternative housing for both of us, as I was coming down to LA nearly every two weeks and needed a cheap place to crash.

So we went on a mission looking for a place near downtown as a live/work space that could be used as a show room. Allen found a spot. It was in the hood but it served it purpose. It was only $750 a month and had two parking spots and was on a busy road. It was on Crenshaw and Jefferson. I think we were the only white guys in the neighborhood. It was an old laundrette that was in need of a major makeover. The landlord was an older Korean guy who didn’t care what went in there. All he wanted was his rent check.

We cleaned it out and I had some of my friends come down from San Francisco to help us put in a shower and also some new lights and a new pergo floor. It looked great! I think we did everything for under a grand, it was amazing. To get in a contractor it would have cost about $10K. So now, we had a new place to live that was close to where we needed to be. Although we didn’t leave the studio after 8pm (for fear of getting robbed) it worked just fine. One Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I was woken up by Allen at about 3am. “Gerry there’s some guys smoking crack at the front door!” I was still half asleep. “So what dude,” I said, “just leave them alone.” “No way man, they gotta go!” The last thing I wanted was to get in an argument with some local crack heads. Anyway, Allen opened the front door like a man possessed, with me terrified standing behind him. He first asked them nicely to get off the door step and move away from the front of the door. They gave him a look as if to say, “screw you.” Then Allen lost it! He started screaming at the top of his voice, “Get the Fuck outta Here!” It was nuts. I thought that was it. We were both going to get shot. But as messed up and crazy as the crack heads were, they didn’t know what to make of this crazy old white guy, so they left. There was a lot of abuse shouted back and forth but they moved on.

It turned out that there was a shitty residential hotel across the street which was full of hookers, junkies, pimps and other undesirables.

I think the word spread about some crazy old white guy living in the old laundrette who was up for an argument, so they kept away from the front of the studio for the most part, but every now and then there was some heated arguments with Allen and the crackheads. I came back to LA after a few weeks in SF and Allen had set up a big flood light that he would turn on anytime anyone who hang around too close to the door. Anyway, it seemed to work and deter the local wackos from hanging around outside our front door.

At least we now had a place that was only a 10 minute drive from where we needed to be. It makes such a big difference when you’re close to your work and can stay on top of what’s going on. Now, all we needed to do was make some new jeans and start selling them. Sounds easy, right. Boy was I in for a shock.

Lessons I learned from my travels to LA:
1. It’s super important to be beside your work/manufacturing.
2. You gotta make buyer appointments before you go to any trade shows.
3. Making jeans is one thing, selling them is another.

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