Chapter 25 - Gerard Junior , Allen Senior & Our Move To LA
Things were getting kind of crazy around our apartment in San Francisco, we were gearing up for the birth of our new baby and I wasn’t making it down to LA as much as I would have liked to. Things were also very tough financially. I was selling a few jeans in San Francisco at trunk shows and at the street festivals and through word of mouth, but not enough. Christine was working as much as she could and she was paying our rent (and she was still taking on some pro bono work which was driving me crazy.) Then, in mid-March 2013 our baby was born “Gerard Kelly the 4th” a healthy half Mexican-American/half Irish young boy came into the world.
It was the happiest day of my life. I literally cried with joy. I was so thrilled. I really wanted a son that I could name after my grandad, my dad and myself and “Boom” just like that we had a baby boy and my lover had another Gerry Kelly to love. With another little guy to take care of, she couldn’t help me with Sonas as much as she used to. Although, she did work on Allen Senior’s slip and “fall in the piss” court case from her hospital bed just after a C Section in major pain. What a waste of time and effort that turned out to be. My lover was doing me a favor trying to help our friend with his case because no one else would take it on and I had literally begged her to.
Allen Senior was in a ton of pain at this stage with his torn rotator cuff from slipping on the dog piss on the floor of his old house. He ended up getting surgery and was told by the doctors that it was possibly the worst tear that they had ever seen. Because we were still living in San Francisco, my father in law went down to help Allen Senior get out of the hospital and he brought him back to the Crenshaw studio where he lay on his bed for weeks in pain recovering. It was a serious operation and I sincerely believe that the painkillers he was on got the better of him, because he was never the same again after the surgery.
Also, things were getting pretty tense between us, plus it didn’t help that we were very low in funds and I couldn’t pay him anymore beyond paying his rent which we continued to do. When I was in San Francisco, I was getting calls from the Crenshaw neighbors telling me that Allen was threatening them with a bat in the back yard. This were getting very stressful. Building a business with limited funds is tough enough, especially when you’re a creative without the best business background. Allen was also a creative. I definitely realized then, that two creatives working together without a good business minded partner is a recipe for disaster. Plus I can be pretty stubborn myself which definitely didn’t help. Allen didn’t believe in marketing or branding, he’d say to me, “marketing-smarketing.” He was old school. All he wanted to do was knock on doors and I was getting doors slammed in my face constantly, which was pretty demoralizing. Back in the day, Allen would drive around with three models that were his salesgirls and a car full of pants, which was very different than today. Back then, he could literally sell jeans on the spot. Those days have changed. These days, this business is all marketing and branding as any muppet can knock you off. Our time with Allen Senior as a business partner was drawing slowly to an end. I have to admit he was and still is one hell of an amazing creative fashion designer and I learned a lot from him. You never know, we could still do some work in the future together on a consulting basis. We really should have been living in LA and meeting the right people to make this happen.
Our Move to LA
I decided that, for us to take Sonas to the next level we had to move to LA for a few years to take care of the production of jeans ourselves and to build relationships with the right people. If you’re building a fashion brand, LA or NY are the places to be. (Mind you, one of our advisors and dear friend “Susy” had told us to do this long before Gerard Junior came along, but I guess I wasn’t ready then to listen.) After a lot of convincing and promising that it is temporary, my wife agreed to the move, although she certainly wasn’t happy about it. She hated the hot weather and “water” of LA, among other things. It was a huge move for us. My wife had lived in SF for 22 years and didn’t want to move to LA and was very vocal about it. San Francisco was her home, where she shaped herself and her practice. All her friends were there too who had grown up with her through her twenties and were there beside her. I was attached too. I had lived in San Francisco for fourteen years and loved it, it was our home, all our friends were there, I knew SF well and I always felt safe there. At the same time, I also knew that to make this work we had to move to the denim capital of the world, LA. I gave in our notice to our landlords and the whole move was done in the space of one month. It was brutal, the amount of stuff you accumulate over time is outrageous, thank God for my wife (yet again). I went into total analysis paralysis mode. There was so much crap that we had to move, I didn’t know what to do, it was horrible. She totally took charge and made shit happen.
We had a lot of our good friends and family come by and help us. It was heartwarming. Thank God and thanks to our wonderful friends, we stuffed a 20 foot Penske truck full to the brim with everything we owned and then filled the car up just the same.
We had to paint the apartment back to its original color and clean it from top to bottom to get our deposit back. They had taken a double deposit from us due to credit issues when we originally got the apartment, so we had to make sure the place was sparkling clean. I’ll never forget it, the last night in our apartment, we were up till 4am cleaning. Everyone else had left by 11pm and my in-laws had our little guy at Christine’s Aunty Mary’s place down in South San Francisco. It was just Christine and I in a completely empty apartment. It was a sad evening. We sat up talking about all the parties we had in that home, guests who stayed over and visited, and all the love too. It was where our little guy was conceived. We were leaving a lot. Without even a bed to sleep on, we turned the heating on full blast and curled up together on the moving blankets and went to sleep for the last night in our San Francisco home. The next morning, we left San Francisco on a cold foggy morning driving out of our apartment from our SF home on the top of the hill in NOPA. Our landlord upped the rent on our home from $2450 to $4200 - some young techie couple had put a deposit down before we had even left. We drove up to our new home in a quiet green suburb of LA at 6pm on August 14, 2014. My wife was already crying because of the heat that filled her car the moment she opened her door. Moving to LA with your wife who doesn’t really want to move there and your 1.5-year-old baby boy when you’re broke and don’t really know anyone is no fucken joke. There was one highlight...which really proved to show through later...thank God Christine’s family was close. I won’t deny it, it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. I’ll never forget it, I drove the 20 foot Penske truck full to the brim with a combined 36 years of personal belongings from SF to LA on a Thursday evening in August 2014 and after some rest we emptied out the truck the following morning with the help of my brother in law and two nephews by 8am it was 80 degrees already and by 12pm it was 100 degrees. Christine (my wife) hates the heat and that was one of the reasons she didn’t want to move to LA, I like the heat but 100 degrees at midday is nuts. Eventually we got everything into our new bungalow and then crashed on the couch dying from heat exhaustion and our baby crying from the heat also. Little Gerard had beads of sweat all over his nose and forehead merely from just being in LA. I looked at all the full boxes in our new home in a suburb of LA thinking to myself “what the fuck have I just done”.
Lessons I learnt from this stage of my life
- The day my son was born was the happiest day of my life.
- Two creatives don’t work well together as business partners unless you have a good business person on the team.
- You’ve gotta move to where the action is, and LA is definitely the place for Fashion.