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Meet Kevin Gray of New Jersey Sets in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Gray.

Kevin, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It’s early 1984 and my family uproots from Manila, Philippines for Los Angeles, CA and few months later I was born. We bounced around Northern and Southern California so growing up made homes in both regions. I guess I had a typical childhood just riding bikes and playing basketball. You could not find me without a basketball in hand.

Fast forward to college years, I ended up getting a Degree in Kinesiology with emphasis in sports psychology and coaching from California State University Long Beach. As soon as I graduated, I left it all to move to the Philippines with a hoop dream to pursue an international basketball career. Injuries and fun loving nature derailed those dreams but somehow landed a career in Radio and entertainment. The majority of my father’s side is actually well known in the Philippines in the arts, music and film industry.

As I was working hosting a morning radio show and hosting events, I stayed close the game I loved as a child. I would design jerseys as a hobby and use jersey makers in the Philippines to make me stuff that I would sell back to friends back in LA or SF. I would communicate thru Facebook messenger or other apps and they would deposit cash into my local Chase or Washington Mutual as it was known back then. The love of basketball in the country is unrivaled. It definitely refueled a passion for the game. I was always hustling some way or another and making basketball jerseys was my way of keeping basketball close. I met my future wife in Philippines as she was on a business trip working with Manny Pacquiao. Hit fast forward again and we are living back in LA together about to have a baby together.

It’s 2013 and our daughter is 1 year old and supporting a family with a restaurant server salary and part-time basketball coaching was not it. Having a child was my moment of truth. I decided to go all in on myself and create a company to try to see if we can take the art of jersey making, which I fell in love with in the Philippines and make money here. Logo revisions, name changes, partners leaving, trademark applications and lots of sweat and tears later we are here with New Jersey Sets. NJS is now known as the premier custom jersey creators designed with our love for the game. My wife and I have been able to take our business in 6+ years and design and produce jerseys for NBA, Nike, Jordan Brand, Bleacher Report, Snoop Dogg, MTV, and Nick Cannon to name a few. We still operate out of our home in Pasadena, CA and still manufacture from our homeland in the Philippines. The Philippines to US connect is still going strong as we strive to not only give great product and service but to continue tradition.

Has it been a smooth road?
Entrepreneurship is never a smooth road. You have to be willing to go broke to pursue your endeavors. So the constant risk and worry plays heavy but with faith and a great support system, you can truly achieve many things. With our business being international, I think communication is always the toughest. I can say that goes for any business or even personal relationship. It always boils down to communication. That goes from interpersonal managing to speaking to your customers. Are you communicating enough? Are you using the right words? When someone wants a refund or complains, how do you handle the situation? Did you convey the design and details properly. So many things can get misconstrued and that is definitely going to happen. The challenge is when it does go wrong or not your way, how do you handle it? Its never how you fall, its always about the bounce back.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I run the business now more as a creative director. Yes, I am considered the owner, founder, CEO blah blah blah but without a team, nothing can be achieved. Once I gave up power and empowered others to do more, we took off! We are known for custom jerseys, in fact, we built our brand around it. We offer detail and options that other jerseys companies are unwilling to provide. We can go retro or modern in design and add all the trimmings of a high end cut and sew clothing manufacturer. Our attention to detail and eye for design is our strong suit. We also possess a willingness to work with clients no matter the design and deadline.

In the six years, we have been going strong I am most proud of our growth and projects we have taken on. We are approaching our 5th season of MTV’s Wild N Out show where we outfit the entire cast and crew in ALL types of jerseys such as baseball, hockey, basketball, and football. We just added motocross jerseys and even cropped apparel for the ladies. We started out just as basketball jersey maker but this show has definitely brought us out our comfort zone and we are better of for it. You can see the growth and evolution throughout the years. Starting this business and the reach we now have knowing we started with no loan or big money backing has been the most rewarding feeling.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
The internet has made our world so small. I think location does not play that big of a role as it once did. Like in the NBA, small market cities can still have huge massive superstars like Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. However, it can still play a big role. We are in LA area and the amount of people you may run into that can change your life is definitely more likely but with Twitter and the direct messaging on apps like Instagram etc. we are truly closer to people than you know. If your product is good and your branding is on point, you can still have presence no matter where we are. I can live in a mountain or dessert secluded but with good wifi, I can communicate and sell something on the cloud. So I would not let location hinder my ability to do good business.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Ryan Wong, Varon P., Gabe Fowler, Emra Visuals

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