What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Pete: Fortunately (or unfortunately) I did not have much of a plan. As push came to shove and I got close to joining the real world, I quickly realized what I did not want to do after interviewing with the living dead in the corporate world. These people were not much older than me and looked liked hell with no spark whatsoever. I got a call from Mossimo Giannulli (of Mossimo that is now sold in Target) and he was starting a clothing company out of his garage and needed help selling what he was designing. I jumped in and 26 years later, I am still loving the rag trade!
Tony: Pro basketall player. From the age of 8 through high school we played almost everyday - even in the 100+ degree Davis summer heat. Hoops breaks consisted of skateboarding, baseball and this wacky new music, punk rock.
How did you get into making jeans? Why?
Pete: I have loved clothes and denim since I was in kindergarten. I remember specific things about how I needed my jeans to look. One of my first pairs of jeans at age 5 was quickly taken outside on their first wear and I proceeded to drag my knees down the sidewalk until each knee had a hole in it. It was 1970 and hippies were everywhere and that is how they wore them so I wanted in. We didn't have much money in our family so my mom wanted to kill me, I am sure of that. My love for good jeans carried on and then jumped up many levels once I met Tony back in 1990. He is the man when it comes to true denim knowledge and can out thumb wrestle anyone in this category.
Tony: Funny how life works out. I owned a boutique in San Francisco in 1993 and a woman came in one day and asked me if we carried a local brand called Claudio Agnelli. I hunted down the brand (tough to do so pre-internet) and started to sell the line. Eventually became friends with the owner (a legend in American denim history named Cliff Abbey), helped him open a retail for for his new brand Sutter’s and a few months later became his partner. In eight years we made and sold 4 million pairs of jeans. All of the contacts and suppliers we work with at Tellason are the same Cliff and I used back in the Sutter’s days.
What do you like most about working for yourself and developing your products?
Pete: Zero filter. We make what we want and we make things that never go out of style. Tony and I are old enough to realize how well our clothes were made when we were kids and the quality that went into our father's wardrobe as well. My senior year graduation present from my dad was a Barracuda jacket. The same coat he wore for 25 years, finally passed down to me.
Tony: Making stuff we like and know has durability built in. No fashion, just classics.
Where do you see your business going in the future?
Pete: Slow growth. We have no ambition to be all things to all people. With age, come wisdom (for some), and we hope to make things with integrity and treat our retailers and customers with great respect along the way. There is nothing in us that tells us to chase the white rabbit and jump on trends or looks that are popular this year or next year's predictions. We don't claim to create anything new, but do take great pride in making classic items in a man's closet that eventually wear out and need to be replaced. If it was made well the first time, get another one and keep the ride going!
Tony: www.walmart.com - so I can afford to buy a house on West Cliff Drive!