Slowly but surely I am starting to pull back the curtain on my daily life, including family and small glimpses into what it takes to run Santana Social Club. Here a few photos to give you a slight peak with more to come.
Sometimes having an overactive and all over the place mind leads to some random but good photography. Below are some old photos from New Orleans, Texas, California and some places in between.
Classic California surf and skate culture also served as inspiration. Pulling from the quintessential California uniform of t-shirt and jeans.
Here are some film outtakes shot by Paul Carrillo for our Local 563 shoot
Hands down my favorite part of actually making a garment is the actual cutting/sewing/dying of a garment. I love to be in the factory helping the sewers, giving direction to the cutters, this is the environment that I thrive.
California, for most is only a dream or some type of fantasy land that either doesn’t exist or exists as a place to go escape all your worries and bask in the constant sun and salt air. For myself, California was where I was born and raised and also a place I bounced around from the top of the state to the bottom and was constantly seeking an exit. That may sound crazy to most but I wasn't always sure my path was meant to be in California. Growing up in the Bay Area, with a layover in Santa Barbara and then Orange County and Long Beach, I wasn’t sure I always quite fit in in California. I didn’t grow up surfing (I do now, it is 1/3 my life) and skateboarding, well let’s just say I didn’t have any companies banging down my door to sponsor me, not even my local skate shop.
Once I moved to New Orleans I wanted so bad to shed my California background not because I was ashamed but because I wanted something completely my own. People and brands left and right, especially the ones not born and raised in California, go out of their way to over exemplify the California culture, even if they have only experienced it for a short time. With my brief time in New Orleans I spent all my time making sure my designs looked nothing like a California lifestyle brand. It was only upon my return to California and my 3 years spent away from the great state did I realize how lucky I was to not only grow up there but to be able spend time in the Bay Area growing up as well as spending ample amount of time in Los Angeles and Orange County as a kid because of my mom’s roots. Once back in California I got back in touch with my roots, I moved with my wife and daughters’ back to Long Beach and spent our weekends in Seal Beach and Laguna Beach (where I would spend a week most Summers when I was a kid). It was this time that allowed me to reestablish my gratitude and realize how lucky I was to be from California. My design process didn’t change nor did I become inspired by all things California but I did allow myself to allow my true DNA to come out which is I was a California boy through and through. I didn't need to overcompensate by creating designs that were over the top California culture, I didn’t need to fake anything, this is who I was. Once my wife and I decided that we were going uproot our family and move the brand to New York is about the time that doing shows like American Field and pop ups at Modern Anthology in Brooklyn did we start to get commentary from customers and interested people alike that the brand exuded a California “vibe”. I hadn’t really heard this too much so it was interesting. Yeah we made vintage washed tees and sweatshirts and dealt in raw denim but so did a lot of brands and designers, yet people insisted there was something about us. Every time I heard this, I smiled. From our trip across America to get to NY, my wife and I sticking out like sore thumbs most places we stopped, I didn’t care. I was proud to be from California. Everything we do and everything I design is natural, it comes from my experiences growing up in California, my mom’s family history in LA dating back to the 20’s. California is not something I am trying to emulate or show off, it is something I am.
Inspiration to me has always been a little like pulling on a loose thread. Once you start pulling everything starts unraveling. I don’t ever really go looking for inspiration per se because I feel like it ends up being forced and I would miss out on a lot of amazing things. Remembering what life was like pre-internet where you had to really discover new things through word of mouth, friends or print is exactly how I still go about things today, with a little social media/internet thrown in.
Below are a few images that I use as a constant source of inspiration. I liked the idea of doing this because growing up, even now, I’ve always loved a peak behind the curtain of different creatives to see what fuels them.
It’s not always known but I am not the sole person responsible for Santana Social Club, there are a few other hands involved. I’ve said before that Santana Social Club is small, family business. Myself, my wife and my partner Paul Carrillo. Paul handles most of the photography duties as well art direction and networking because lord knows I am not an expert conversationalist. Paul shoots 35mm film on various different cameras and focuses more on street/lifestyle subjects. Whatever Paul’s surroundings are you can believe he will find a great photo opportunity. I asked Paul to pick some of his most recent, favorite photos. Check them out below.
The second to last day of the road trip was another long haul, 10 plus hours. There was constant stopping to break up the monotony of pounding through 3 states, and not to mention having to pay a toll every time you wanted to exit the freeway in Ohio but that's another story for another day.
On one of our many detours through Ohio we came upon this amazing motel sign. There was never any shortage of beautiful signage and old type faces in each of these small towns.
I believe this is the Allegheny River in PA, but once again things started blurring together.
The hotel bar was basically empty and all ours so not much to complain about here. Lewisburg, PA was a flash in the pan on this road trip, had to move onto the next.
Quality of craftsmanship is always a source of inspiration for every single one of my designs and a part of the DNA of Santana Social Club. Tyler Jorgenson, owner and shaper of Wax Surf Co. embodies that spirit of quality craftsmanship. There is no mass producing here. All of Tyler's boards are crafted one at a time by himself, ensuring that each surfer's needs are met in and outside of the water. Photographer Sean Ryan Pierce caught Tyler in action wearing the Purple Heart tee, Allen embroidered hoodie and Taylor strap back.
Day 5 was definitely more of a grueling day to say the least. About 10 and a half hours spent from Omaha to South Bend. Nearing the end of our trip we tried covering as much ground as we could because packing 2 toddlers and 2 dogs, let's just say things were starting to get testy.
We got out of Nebraska pretty quickly and spent a little time in Iowa, trying to take as many breaks as possible so not everyone went nuts, not sure that didn't happen though.
Pretty sure this is crossing over into Illinois, when you knock out 3 states in a day things start blurring together.
One of the many things I loved about this road trip and what I love about small towns is the store fronts, restaurants, liquor stores etc. The signage is understated and timeless. One of the biggest philosophies of my design process is always minimal, clean and understated.
I kept seeing signs for this small town called Princetown. The signs weren't anything special but I think the consistency of them drew me in. Only when we got closer did the signs start touting it as the Ronald Reagan's birthplace. The town definitely felt like it was frozen in time with very few updates to the buildings and signage.
After 10 hours in the car we finally arrived in South Bend, Indiana (these photos were taken the next day) home of Notre Dame. I am not a college football fan so this wasn't as special as it would be to some other die hards.
There is definitely 2 sections to South Bend. The Hell's Angels club house is located in the area in which I am sure they try to keep the Notre Dame students away from but it is also the area where I felt had the most character.
On to the next.
Day 4 definitely seemed to be one of the longest day on the trip with the flat lands of Nebraska supplying us with beauty but repetitiveness that seemed to inject us into a constant state of drowsiness.
Day 3 of our California to New York road trip put us through Salt Lake City (hands down the cleanest city I have ever been in) to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Film, television and photos don't really do the stark beauty of Wyoming any justice. Beautiful etched mountains and lush flat lands really makes your imagination run wild to a time when it was all solely inhabited by Native Americans.
Outside of a small town in Wyoming called Rawlins we came across this stand along church and a set of swings. With the closest human being about 50 miles away it was pretty interesting to find an active church on the side of the highway. I guess when it's time to pray it's time to pray.
Rawlins was an impromptu stop on our road trip. Spotted from the highway we could clearly see that wasn't modern day town with big box stores and chain restaurants propping it up. Rawlins is a town that has been around since the late 1800's. The store fronts still boast beautiful hand painted signs.
These deer happened to just find themselves a nice shady spot in town and could not be bothered by anybody. We later found out this is a pretty regular occurrence.
At last we arrived in Cheyenne, WY. Of course we had to stop into the Wrangler. Day 3 wrapped, time for a drink and on to Day 4.
On day 2 of our trip we packed up again and headed out of Winnemucca, Nevada to Salt Lake City. One of the things I found inspiring and I've always found inspiring about small towns, I'm talking less than 15,000 people, is the importance of small business. Throughout all the small towns I have passed through in the U.S. be it Texas, Louisiana, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee etc. it is that small businesses, NOT big chain companies prop these towns up and actually create some semblance of culture, jobs and identity for these towns that cannot be replicated in most cookie cutter towns or cities. These small towns and small businesses continue to serve as an inspiration to Santana and also as aspiration to push beyond.
For over 7 years now my wife and I have thrown around the idea about moving to New York, even with our 3 years spent in New Orleans and our move back to LA, 2 kids and 2 dogs later, New York has always seemed inevitable, it always seemed to be the goal. The thought of insanity, the questions and the doubts from people around us only pushed our desire to get there. We've heard it all from business to family to cost of living. How's it going to be for business and our family? Being a small 100% self funded business and the need to make an impact in the apparel industry, New York was the only logical place for us and Santana Social Club and the risk was always going to be taken.
Los Angeles is and will always be an amazing city, the history and inspiration for Santana was born out of Boyle Heights, Los Angeles where my Grandfather grew up and Los Angeles has done some amazing things for SSC we will continue to produce a good amount of our product there. Plus having me in New York and my Partner in Los Angeles it will give us that continued power to push from the west coast to the east coast and that time has come to really finally go for it to take SSC to another level. To show the people that have continued to support us and show others that are just discovering us something that we truly believe in.
Santana Social Club will always be designed with great detail, made with the highest quality and created domestically from beginning to end, which will always be important. Today marks the first day of our drive cross country from the east bay where we were staying the last 8 weeks after our house in Long Beach sold in March, but sometimes you have to trust your gut with no questions, no doubts and no what if's. You've got to take chances and make your dreams happen because no one will do it for you.
Each day I will be updating our journal giving you a little behind the scenes of life on the road with my crazy family, myself and my partner and a more in depth background on how Santana Social club really functions and what we have envisioned for the future since starting in 2010.
Stay tuned and thank you for your support.