Two Morehouse college graduates won a national championship together, and now they are winning in business, too.
Fast Company reports Olajuwon Ajanaku and Earl Cooper launched the golf lifestyle apparel brand Eastside Golf in 2019 to create more visibility in the sport among youth and those who don’t play golf.
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The Company's Inception
Prior to the venture, Ajanaku was exercising his degree in accounting through the corporate realm of commercial financing. He originally hoped to become a PGA pro, similar to Cooper, but was unable to secure sponsorship. He never allowed his aspirations with the sport to fizzle out. This is what led to the creation of Eastside Golf and enabled him to become his own sponsor, per Fast Company.
The founders recognized the apparel brand would have great promise after receiving attention from people intrigued by the company’s swingman logo, which portrays Ajanaku in jeans and a sweatshirt.
“Going out on the golf course, one of the things that a lot of people don’t get to be is themselves,” Ajanaku told Fast Company. “The logo literally says I don’t care. I’m out here because I love the game of golf and because I like dressing fly. When people are able to be themselves, it gives them the power to do so many other things.”
Cooper advised Ajanaku to sport the logo on a T-shirt instead of just a golf bag, which allowed them to create buzz around their company.
Fast Company mentions that Ajanaku emptied his accounts to purchase and sell more apparel. Then, while at a PGA trade show, they gained further positive reactions, encouraging them to go full force with the brand.
Projected Company Revenue
The outlet reports that the brand made $100,000 in its first year of business. Today, they are on track to generate $4 million in 2023 and scale their team from two to 16 employees.
Working With The Jordan Brand
“Because MJ and I love the game and these two gentlemen had aspirations of creating a brand with a new perspective for the game, we wanted to provide them with a potential jump-start by creating a collaboration,” said Humphrey, now the general manager of Jordan Golf, per Fast Company. “We shared our thoughts, creativity, and business philosophy to hopefully aid them in their efforts. Making this type of investment in a minority-owned business that loved the game simply seemed like the right thing to do.”
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The partnership with Jordan Brand has led to various apparel items and shoes. They most recently launched the Change 1961 Collection, which includes three Eastside Golf X Jordan Golf shoes and a 14-piece apparel collection from Eastside Golf, according to Golf Digest.
“Sitting in that design room and telling our story, our why, in a way that they’ve never experienced has been remarkable,” Ajanaku expressed. “We’re just bringing a different wave to golf.”
Looking ahead, the founders are looking to establish a brick-and-mortar store in Atlanta, GA, as well as create a foundation centered around supporting the youth and next generation of golfers.
“We want to grow the brand to a place where we’re touching all points of golf,” Ajanaku told Fast Company. “Growing the game of golf to a place we wanted to see it when we were younger. I know that when we were 10 years old, we had a bunch of ideas. Now, it’s about putting that into play, because I know that’s what the next generations want to see.”