We all know the person who says they’re from New York when they’re really from Scarsdale. Or the person who says they’re from Philadelphia when they’re really from Elkins Park. Or on the West Coast, the person who claims to be from Los Angeles and really grew up in Huntington Beach. The reason I find this disingenuity so irritating isn’t that I believe the person is being fake or chasing clout, but because all of those satellite suburbs have their own unique character and it’s far more interesting to own them for what they are.
When Jordan Stewart, Tim Crome, and Kyle Young started their clothing brand Prime Life in 2012, they wanted to rep their hometown of Chino Hills, California. Though it would be easy to lump Chino Hills into Los Angeles, Crome, Stewart, and Young have focused their brand’s journey on its origins in the San Bernardino Valley suburb. “Other brands who might say they’re from Los Angeles, we know they’re not necessarily from Los Angeles. It’s too cliché,” Stewart said. “For us, we make the distinction because our heart’s at home.”
“Other brands who might say they’re from Los Angeles, we know they’re not necessarily from Los Angeles. It’s too cliché,” Stewart said. “For us, we make the distinction because our heart’s at home.”
Prime Life started as the brainchild of the three friends at the local high school in Chino Hills. Young knew he wanted to have “prime” in the brand’s name, and they went from there. “The original idea was that PRIME stood for Pure Royalty Inside Me,” Crome reminisced. The word has a whole milieu of connotations from being in the prime of one’s life to prime numbers that stand alone with nothing to divide them by. The trio looked at other brands’ names, landed on Prime Life, and enlisted Stewart’s mother who worked in graphic design to get them started with a logo.
“The original idea was that PRIME stood for Pure Royalty Inside Me,” Crome reminisced.
2022 marks the brand’s ten-year anniversary. At the time I sat down with California-based Crome and Stewart via FaceTime from rainy, dark Pennsylvania, Prime Life had just released their PairOfDice collection. It’s a double entendre between the image of a pair of dice and the idea of paradise, but for Crome, Stewart, and Young it has a deeper meaning. “We wanted to exemplify our tagline, ‘against all odds,’ by using the dice to represent taking risks,” Crome, who serves as the company’s creative director, explained. Their goal is to inspire others to feel empowered to pursue their passions, which often involves the risk of high highs but very low lows, as I can well attest to as an independent author.
“We always have the same numbers showing: 5 and 4. 5 letters in Prime, 4 letters in life,” Crome said. “But also, it adds up to 9 and our Chino Hills area code is 909. We represent where we come from and bring it home.”
The logo of the dice is also consistent across all of the designs it appears on. “We always have the same numbers showing: 5 and 4. 5 letters in Prime, 4 letters in life,” Crome said. “But also, it adds up to 9 and our Chino Hills area code is 909. We represent where we come from and bring it home.” The PairOfDice collection was the first time the company branched into more intricate clothing items like letterman jackets and quarter-zips, which allowed for much more creative control. This collection was the brand’s most extensive yet and was a challenge that showed them how much they’ve grown as creatives and entrepreneurs.
“People also didn’t take us seriously and cut corners to make a buck off of some eighteen-year-olds,” he added. But now that they’ve created a successful brand around empowerment and drive for creatives, they’ve left any of those detractors far behind in the dust.
It also gave them an opportunity to reflect on how much they’ve put into Prime Life over the years. “One of the biggest challenges for us has been time management,” Stewart said. “We all have 9-to-5 jobs, and I would encourage anyone who’s an entrepreneur to use their income from their everyday job to fund their passion.” There’s a stereotype of an entrepreneur as someone with fabulous generational wealth whose money allows them to flippantly do whatever they want. But as Stewart stated, most people who start their own business ventures need regular income and get discouraged when time management doesn’t turn out how they planned. “It’s not an either-or thing,” Stewart said. “People also didn’t take us seriously and cut corners to make a buck off of some eighteen-year-olds,” he added. But now that they’ve created a successful brand around empowerment and drive for creatives, they’ve left any of those detractors far behind in the dust.
Crome highlighted how communication has been key to the collaborative partnership at the helm of Prime Life. “It’s important to know you have a bigger plan for the brand even when you’re in different states and on different schedules,” he said. During college, Stewart and Crome went to San Jose State, Young went to Arizona State, and another collaborator at the time went as far as Boston. “But the differences in our circumstances allowed us to expand to different markets and spread our wings,” Crome reflected.
“It’d have to be in Chino Hills.”
Given that Prime Life turns ten this year, I asked the team where they saw the brand ten years from now. All agreed that collaborations with musicians like Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, or Pharrell would be goals to work towards. But the first goal they stated was to have “one of the most viewed, crowded fashion shows in the country. But they didn’t want to go to New York Fashion Week or advertise in Hollywood. Like always, Crome and Stewart brought it home and added: “It’d have to be in Chino Hills.”
Prime Life is one of UP’s sponsors that lines up with our mission of supporting creatives and entrepreneurs across all art forms.