News

Jolly Boy Clothing line raises funds to send kids to camp

By DAVE MASON, NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER

August 20, 2018 6:17 AM

Kami Marshall designs and sells the Jolly Boy line of T-shirts ($28) and caps ($26), as worn by the Jolly Boy himself, her son, Otis, 7. Part of the proceeds from the Ventura business will go to send kids to camp.

Fred Bryant and his Baltimore neighbors liked to get together for parties.

When Mr. Bryant saw the smile on a neighborhood boy, Brooks Marshall, he made the kid their mascot during Jolly parties that grew to include appetizers. Mr. Bryant even gave Brooks a cap that said "Jolly Boy I."

"He liked the idea that I was always a happy kid," Mr. Marshall, now 40, told the News-Press recently from behind his desk in his downtown Ventura office. A photo of him as Jolly Boy I, wearing the iconic cap, sits on a shelf next to the actual cap, which Mr. Marshall has saved all these years.

Today's Jolly Boy is Otis Marshall, Mr. Marshall and wife Kami Marshall's enthusiastic 7-year-old. Still energetic after a kids' surfing camp, the boy hammed it up recently for a News-Press photo shoot of him modeling the T-shirts and caps in — what else? — his parents' Jolly Boy line for kids.

"He is the best salesman," Mrs. Marshall, 38, referring to when the couple sell clothing out of their truck during special events. "He harasses people. 'You've got money? You've got a hat! We take credit cards!'" She laughed.

Otis has a personal stake in the clothes. A silhouette of him on his knees on a skateboard appears as the logo. It was designed by Oniracom, a Santa Barbara graphics firm.

"I love the logo!" Mrs. Marshall said. "When I saw the proofs, I burst out in tears."

Mr. and Mrs. Marshall launched Jolly Boy in 2017 after six years of development. They sell the clothes online at www.jollyboy.com, in Santa Barbara at Jake and Jones, 136 E. Canon Perdido St., and in Ventura at Passport Habits, 542 E. Main St.

 

Otis Marshall models a Jolly Boy T-shirt and cap, perfect for putting around in the downtown Ventura office of his father, Brooks Marshall.

 

Mrs. Marshall was charmed by the story of the neighbor creating the first Jolly Boy cap for her husband and it gave her the idea for the line.

"It was a way to do something that was inspired by the people that I love," she said, referring to the two Jolly Boys in her life. (Mr. Bryant gave his blessing to the venture and is featured on their website.)

Mr. Marshall handles Jolly Boy's finances, and Mrs. Marshall designs all the clothing, which is a mix of organic cotton products and organic cotton/recycled polyester blends.

 
The family behind Jolly Boy fashions consists of Otis, 7, the current Jolly Boy; and his parents, Kami Marshall and Brooks Marshall, the original Jolly Boy.

Prices are $24 for baby caps, $26 for other kids' caps, $50 for hoodies and $28 for T-shirts, beanies and onesies. Despite the name Jolly Boy, the clothes are designed for both boys and girls, ages 0-8.

If a girl doesn't want to wear the words "Jolly Boy" on a T-shirt, she can pick a shirt with a drawing Mrs. Marshall did of their family's truck.

Mrs. Marshall said she doesn't want to go through the long trademark process again to add the brands "Jolly Girl" or "Jolly Kid," but noted the colors appeal to both boys and girls.

"My little girl (Schuyler, 3 1/2) loves red, green and blue, so it's a unisex line for kids, not just for boys," Mrs. Marshall said. "We're slowly evolving. The pink cap should be arriving soon.

"Right out of the gate, I wanted to stick with primary colors and a more timeless, classic look," she said.

Sizes are 3 to 6 months, 6 to 12 months, 2T, 4T, 6T, 8T and 10T.

Mrs. Marshall said she was striving for simple elegance in the clothes, which are manufactured in Los Angeles, New York and China. The beanies are made by Women + Shelter, a nonprofit that teaches vocational skills to abused women in New Delhi.  Mr. Marshall said they make the beanies, one at a time, on a sewing machine.

On another charitable front, part of Jolly Boy's proceeds are going to a cause close to Mr. and Mrs. Marshall's heart: sending kids to a camp or camps in Ventura County. They're figuring out the details.

"We still have our fund that is growing. We've raised $2,500 so far," Mrs. Marshall said.

Jolly Boy clothing and its support of camps were inspired by the couple's backgrounds.

Mrs. Marshall, a Jacksonville, Fla., native, earned a bachelor's degree in early childhood education at Florida State University in 2002. She ended up moving to Vail, Colo., where, in part, she worked as a ski instructor. She also worked as a camp counselor one summer in Estes Park, Colo.

Then she moved to Atlanta, where she was introduced to the world of fashion. She managed the Anthropologie store there.

Mr. Marshall, who has fond memories of attending the Colvig Silver Camp in Durango, Colo., as a teenager, earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish at Vanderbilt University in Nashville in 2001 and a master's degree in international commerce in 2003.

Mr. Marshall was working in investment banking when he and Mrs. Marshall met in Atlanta through mutual friends in 2004. They married in 2008, but got bad news when they returned from their honeymoon.

The recession led to layoffs for Mr. Marshall and everyone else at his company.

In 2009, the couple moved from Atlanta to Laguna Beach, a step closer to Mrs. Marshall's ultimate dream of living in a city she heard about, Santa Barbara. In Laguna Beach, Mrs. Marshall taught kindergarten at Laguna Niguel Montessori School, and Mr. Marshall worked on business development for a health imaging company. He left that company to work on mergers and acquisitions for U.S. Health Works in Santa Clarita, and after a short stint in Pasadena, the couple moved in 2014 to a city that impressed Mr. Marshall from a Sunset Magazine layout: Ventura.

After the move, Mrs. Marshall started working on her dream of the Jolly Boy line. Mr. Marshall works in financial consulting while devoting as much time as he can to Jolly Boy.

Mrs. Marshall said she took six years to develop the line because she wanted to ensure it would be high-quality.

"I didn't want to just buy a blank cap and slap our logo on it," she said. "Every thread of our company is thought out.

"I wanted a product that would be a forever item and be handed down (from the first child wearing it) to the next child," Mrs. Marshall said. "It's sturdy and durable."

She showed how the caps have a firm front for kids who play hard, as well as a mesh back.

"It's nice and breathable so you don't have a sweaty head," Mrs. Marshall said.

The T-shirts are tagless so kids don't feel anything itching their necks, and the hoodies are so soft that customers have requested an adult version, Mrs. Marshall said.

But these clothes are all for kids, and the Jolly Boy himself, Otis, is eager for a piece of the action. Mrs. Marshall recalled what he recently told her.

"I'm part of Jolly Boy. How much ownership do I have in this company?"

She laughed.

"Good heavens!"

email: dmason@newspress.com

IF YOU GO

Jolly Boy sells T-shirts, onesies, caps and beanies for boys and girls, 0 to age 8, at jollyboy.com.

The business also sells clothes in Santa Barbara at Jake and Jones, 136 E. Canon Perdido St. (770-7763) and in Ventura at Passport Habits, 542 E. Main St., as well as at special events.

For more information, call 676-0088 or email through the "Contact Us" section of jollyboy.com. You also can write the business at Jolly Boy, 35 W. Main St., Suite B , PMB 125, Ventura 93001.