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Meet Grant and Sarah Nestor of Hammies Shorts in Santa Barbara

Today we’d like to introduce you to Grant and Sarah Nestor.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The Hammies short is a retro short based on a classic corduroy short style that was popularized in 70-80s. If you were around during this time period, then you probably remember the OP short or Stubbies short. Hammies is an old short for a new generation.

I (Grant) have worn the vintage shorts for over a decade and in 2015 I said “If someone doesn’t bring back these shorts, I’m going to have to myself.” Two years later, no one was making them so I did what I needed to do.

Sarah (now wife and co-owner) and I were living in Venice at the time. I was doing software consulting and she was teaching first grade. I started making day trips to downtown LA to visit factories, fabric and trim suppliers, and dye houses. After six months of development, the first batch of Hammies arrived.

For the next three years, I worked on Hammies as a side-project. The short quality improved, new colors were introduced, and the customer base grew. It gradually demanded more and more of my time and it was like throwing a couple more bowling pins into a juggling act.

Last Summer, Sarah and I got married. Sarah left her teaching job and we both started working on Hammies full-time. We moved the inventory from our little house in Santa Monica to a fulfillment center in San Bernardino. We moved the rest of our stuff into storage and started a six months trip around the world (the “Hammies Honeymoon”). We were on a tiny island in Indonesia when COVID-19 escalated to global proportions and we made the difficult decision to end our trip three months early and return home to Santa Barbara (where I grew up).

After running the business abroad for three months, we proved to ourselves that we can actually run the business from anywhere that has a decent Internet connection.

This year has been the biggest one for Hammies for a variety of reasons. First, quitting our day jobs forced us to grow Hammies to a scale that will support us moving forward. We moved our production to a new full-package factory and in doing eliminated all of our quality issues. We started selling wholesale and now have a team of retail partners across the US. Lastly, we started development on some new products that will be available in Spring 2021.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
We have had our share of growing pains. It’s easy to manage product quality, inventory, customer support, and online presence when your customer base is small. In year 2, we started running into quality issues (like inconsistent sizing and damaged fabric). We have underestimated demand and sold out prematurely every Summer. Having said that, our customers have been very understanding and supportive throughout this process and most have stuck it out with us.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Hammies Shorts story. Tell us more about the business.
Hammies is a retro shorts brand. It’s nice because our product is our brand and our brand is our product: the short. We will be expanding our product line next year so our identity will need to change from “retro shorts brand” to “retro brand,” but I think the solo product strategy has been very effective for our branding up until now.

We’re most proud of the joy our product brings people. We are very active on Instagram so we get to see and interact with our customers directly and the one thing they all have in common is they’re having fun in the shorts. In the first year, we connected with Moxi Rollerskates and now the majority of our customers are rollerskaters (and so are we now!). Rollerskating is coming back in a big way and it’s been so fun to be apart of that.

What makes Hammies unique is our commitment to the classics. Retro is a big trend in fashion these days and there are lots of brands making retro apparel but the majority of them are following the trend and when retro fades out, they will follow the next trend. We are not following any trend. We like to say that “we are so behind the curve that we’re ahead of it” and there’s some truth to that. When we started, corduroy was very difficult to source because no one was wearing it. Two years later is was everywhere! When we started, short shorts for dudes was extreme and now it’s normal. Our mission is “to make that 70-80s look, you know, more accessible” and specifically forgotten styles from 70-80s beach culture. Another way to look at it, we only want to make what no one else is making. So we spend a lot of time doing research (watching movies and TV shows, reading magazines, and collecting photos from that time period), searching for “that look.”

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck has played a huge role in the success of Hammies thus far. They say “it’s all about who you know” in business and when we started, I didn’t know anyone! Luck has played a huge role in the connections we have made with people and other brands over the past four years. One fun story: In the very beginning, I was researching the history of the shorts and 70-80s beach culture in general and I kept seeing photos of people on rollerskates. I thought, “Maybe Hammies should bring back rollerskating!” I did some Googling and found Moxi Rollerskates who was already doing exactly that, so I thought “Great! I’ll just reach out to them once Hammies is a little more established.” Two months later, Marin from Moxi reached out to us! She said she found us on Instagram and loved the shorts and we did a photoshoot a week later. Today, rollerskaters make up the majority of our customers.

Pricing:

  • Classic short: $70
  • Two-tone short: $80

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Grant and Sarah photo: Franziska Märkl

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