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The Challengers Eastside Golf

  • On-screen text: Charles Schwab Presents

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: I don’t even feel as though I’m in the fashion industry. I feel like I’m making clothes to connect with people.

    On-screen text:The Challengers
    A series about people who QUESTION. ENGAGE. SUCCEED.
    Eastside Golf

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: My name is Olajuwon Ajanaku, founder of Eastside Golf. I’ve been playing golf since I was six years old—play golf, junior golf, ended up getting a scholarship to go to Morehouse College and won a National Golf Championship 2010. After I graduated, turned pro in golf did that for a couple of years, but got to a point I just couldn’t afford it anymore. I was taking up odd jobs, I was still playing mini-tour golf, had a couple of professional wins under my belt and even was caddying. But it got to a point I just couldn’t afford it. So I thought,

    Spoken on screen text: What if I could create a brand to sponsor myself?

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: In every sport, usually you see players become owners, but

    Spoken on screen text: Have you ever seen an owner become a player?

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: You know, I want to play golf. I was just like, it’s going to be hard to find sponsors, Olajuwon. So what’s the first thing? Let’s just make a logo. And I talked to my best friend at the time, Earl; he was doing his own thing.

    Earl Cooper: I am Earl Cooper, and I am the co-founder of Eastside Golf. So I met Olajuwon in college at Morehouse College. We met there on the golf team. But when you graduate, you’re faced with decisions. You follow your passion or go to a law school, cause I have a degree in political science. But I had dreams of playing on the PGA Tour. I just wasn’t good enough—quickly realized that. But I still wanted to be involved in golf. So jumped into becoming a PGA professional. And then in 2016, I was named Golf Digest’s one of the best young teachers in America. So my Eastside story started with him, about to turn 30. He just, “Hey man, I need to create a logo.” I’m like, “Okay.” And he’s like, “Hey, can you hook me up with an artist?”

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: First picture that I came with was this picture of me when I was 12 years old. Then I was like, you know what, let’s say, same motion, jeans, sweatshirt, and actually a Cuban Link Chain. I felt like that would explain how you are to be out on a golf course, just being yourself. I wanted something that would represent me, as I swing a golf club.

    Earl Cooper: I’m like, man, that’s dope. That’s fly. And you should put that on the shirt.

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: It was just going to go on my polo and on my bag. But would people understand the logo?

    Earl Cooper: He puts it on a shirt. It’s like, man, you won’t believe what happened to me today.

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: I went downtown Detroit, I maybe got stopped 60 or 70 times. They like, “Yo, who are you? What’s that logo? Where can I get it? And do you play golf?” Those are the continuous questions that I got. Then after that, Earl was just like, “Yo bro, like do something with it.” I end up making sweatshirts, t-shirts, socks, hats, umbrellas, and other accessories. And from November 2019 to February 2020, I sold out six times.

    Earl Cooper: He filed an LLC, filed for trademarks, did the sourcing of the products, all of the things that kind of goes into making something special.

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: Actually on the first 2,000 orders, I wrote thank-you cards on every single last one of them.

    Spoken on-screen text: I wrote 2,000 thank you cards.

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: But it was what was needed. I wanted to show the customer I appreciated them. It went a long way. It went a very long way.

    Earl Cooper: He was doing the steps and I was supporting him. Now we’re in January 2020 and he’s like, man, we got to go to the PGA show. I’m just kind of like, man, they’re not going to understand based on my experience, that logo swinging with a chain. This isn’t going to work inside of the golf world. He’s like, no, we got to go, man. You got to go. And I literally, I mean, during the PGA show, I felt like we stole the show.

    Earl Cooper: Yo! One time. One time!

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: A lot of people, after I made the logo, they would tell me that they see themselves in this logo, and that they feel like they can be themselves finally, within the game.

    Earl Cooper: You got something special. I knew it was special, but it’s always one of those things where you question this. Is it just me just trying to support my friend, or is this a real business?

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: The shoe that we collaborated with Jordan brand on, man, I feel like it’s a huge success. Because it is trading on StockX, it has the respect from the fashion industry, has the respect from sneaker heads. I mean, that’s crazy. Where we stand now is, I’m there to where I can sponsor myself, but right now we’re trying to make the game for everybody. And we want to work with companies that feel the same way.

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: Success to me with Eastside Golf looks like you seeing the younger generation come up to me and say, “Hey, you guys inspired me. I played basketball and golf, but I see the intersection. I see that you can do both.“ That’s success. I just want to pass it along, and I want the younger generation to use golf to their best ability and as a tool in their life.

    On-screen text: ASK QUESTIONS. BE ENGAGED.

    [Charles Schwab logo] Own your tomorrow®

    Olajuwon Ajanaku: It’s always been about representation. If you don’t see somebody else doing it, then how would you know that it’s even possible?

    On-screen text: [Charles Schwab logo] [PGA Tour logo] The Official Investment Firm

    ©2022 Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. All rights reserved. Member SIPC. (0222-17H2)

    On screen text: Thanks to: Sugar Creek Golf Club
    Nyre Williams
    Nyre Williams Jr.

Have you ever seen an owner become a player?

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