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Individual Look Fosters Team Spirit

Fashion: Jammin Ideas--formed by three Tustin High grads--makes custom apparel for sports clubs, companies and special events.


When USC football Coach John Robinson wanted to reward his team for making it to the Rose Bowl last winter, he contacted an Anaheim-based active wear company called Jammin Ideas and ordered identical sweats in cardinal and gold.

Robinson understands how dressing alike can unite a team.

"It gives you credence that you are part of a group," he says. "In our culture, people demand individuality. But it's fun to be identified with a group that you think is elite."

Dressing alike has traditionally been a way to foster team spirit, from the little leagues to the Olympics.

"People want to feel they're members of a team," says Steve Weil, managing partner of Jammin. "What better way to promote team spirit than to have everyone wear the same clothes?"

Jammin has made souvenir jackets for all kinds of special events, including the Masters golf tournament, the Super Bowl and the America's Cup. Eastman Kodak had Jammin make 1,260 gray photo vests for photographers shooting the Olympic Games in Atlanta. Al Unser Jr. was wearing a jacket by Jammin when he won the Indy 500 in 1992.

The company that promotes team spirit knows a thing or two about teamwork. Jammin is owned by a team of three: Mark Grinde, Brian Grinde and Weil. The partners do everything together. They became friends at the age of 12 while living in Tustin and graduated from Tustin High School.

"We all tried college, but we got really bored," Weil says. So they quit school and in 1983 started Jammin. They chose the name because "it's a bunch of guys jammin' on an idea," Weil says. "But a lot of people think we were just out jammin', that we were just these happening dudes."

The trio first "jammed" on the idea of making and selling Windbreakers.

"We had this old beat-up yellow and white striped jacket that we all kind of shared," Weil says. "People kept asking where we got it. One day we all decided, 'Why don't we start making them?' "

They hired a pattern maker and created a contemporary version of the old pullover jacket. They all learned how to sew.

"We'd work our day jobs, then sew from 6 p.m. to as late as midnight, whatever it took," Weil says.

They worked out of a small 600-square-foot warehouse in Tustin. They started selling jackets to ski resorts, including Heavenly Valley, and eventually landed enough accounts to quit their day jobs and add employees.

After five years, they were selling outerwear to department stores such as Macy's and Nordstrom, but it didn't take long for stores to figure out that they could have their own jackets made for less money overseas.

"The roof fell in," Weil says.

The guys devised a new strategy to eliminate the stores entirely. They decided to market their outerwear straight to the consumer through catalogs, direct mailings and a sophisticated computer system.

They approached universities to outfit their sports teams. They called on companies to make sales meeting jackets with their corporate logos. They targeted obscure volleyball and gymnastics clubs and huge companies like Anheuser Busch.

"Our custom ability allowed us to go into any market," Weil says.

Everyone from corporate heads to little league coaches have turned to Jammin for custom sportswear.

Jeff Hyder, national sales manager for Sunshine Makers Inc., the Huntington Harbour-based manufacturers of Simple Green products, enlists Jammin to make jackets, wind shirts and totes with the Simple Green color and logo.

"When we go to a [trade] show, we all dress the same. There's no division of management," Hyder says. "If the president of the company is dressed the same as the shipping manager, there's an esprit de corps."


Hyder likes Jammin because the company can make the Simple Green "trade dress" in the identical shade of green used on Simple Green's cleaners and other products.

"We wouldn't want a Kelly green jacket when Simple Green is a forest green color," he says. To further distinguish themselves from the competition, Hyder can order the clothing in a one-of-a-kind design with the company logo.

"Quaker State has a similar green to ours, and I sure don't want to show up at a trade show next to Quaker State wearing an identical shirt," he says.

Jammin caters to organizations of all types that require cloned clothing. They specialize in custom jackets emblazoned with the colors and logos of amateur and professional sports teams, corporations both large and small, the military, police and fire departments--any group that needs to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack.

Customers can order clothes through a catalog, or they can surf the net and design clothes on the Jammin web site at Some drop by the company's Anaheim headquarters, which looks more like a high-tech computer firm than a clothing company, and "shop" by computer.

Using Jammin's computerized design program, they create custom clothes. With a touch of the keyboard they can choose from stripes, diagonals, circles or other blocked patterns in any combination of colors.

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