Prior to 2006, SCHOOL ZONE wasn't a brand at all, just a play on words. If someone did a really great job of something we would say "You schooled it!" or if someone got completely annihilated in a sport or video game "You got schooled!!" A school zone, an area surrounding a school was in our case: an area where you're getting schooled. We paired this with "In the zone", people say "He's in the zone" to mean someone's mind is locked into a task. Shortly after the play on words was first used, the very first SCHOOL ZONE hat was created.


In the Fall of 2006, a symbol was created to match the phrase SCHOOL ZONE. The symbol was and is a guy who dressed like us, wearing a baseball hat, and carrying a drink, walking up to a very attractive-looking girl in clubwear in a model-like pose. These two characters were set within a pentagon shape with lines by the character's ankles and is meant to parody the an actual school zone crossing sign.  Basically, the symbol is meant to say, be yourself, have fun and chase what you're after. Don't hesitate, be confident in yourself and just school it. 

I approached a very artistically talented friend of mine Kris Carlson about the concept for the parody image and after a couple drafts we settled on a graphic very close to today's SCHOOL ZONE logo. Next, we wanted to create a life-size sign of the logo. I measured the dimensions of an actual school zone sign near my girlfriend's house and had a piece of plywood cut to shape and size. Kris and I went to our local community college and used a classroom projector to project his artwork onto the plywood which Kris traced. Over the next few days I taped off the artwork and painted it with spray paint to create a bright yellow neon and black image. 

From 2006 to late 2008 the symbol was used to represent a very ambitious party promotions brand. We held night club parties at two Providence, RI night clubs from which the financial proceeds were donated to charitable causes. My girlfriend and I were downtown many late nights putting flyers on cars and talking to people about our parties. We also displayed the sign at some house parties, two of which I actually tended the bar then DJ'd to close the night. We were chasing a dream and having fun doing it. Eventually, we tried our hand at for-profit promotions, which proved to be downfall of the brand for a short time.


After about a one year hiatus. I decided that I'd like to do something with the brand and took steps toward creating a clothing line of hats, shirts, and outerwear. I designed a very expensive to manufacture shirt as a sample for the brand's t-shirts which were planned to use a very unique custom application. As with everything we feel comfortable labeling SCHOOL ZONE it was thoroughly thought out, and manufactured with the highest quality possible. There were 24 t-shirts made and plans for the first SCHOOL ZONE merchandise available for sale was laid out: A black snapback baseball hat with a white and black patch. This plan didn't come together at the time  because I had recently bought a home and was putting a lot of time and money into that project. Again, the brand went dormant for some time.


Revisiting the idea of a clothing line, I decided to focus on SCHOOL ZONE being a hats only brand, so we could take on a much more focused goal and become great at one thing. Since the inception of the brand I've had a passion and special interest in baseball hats and street wear. Our plan this year, through 2013 and beyond is to release a new, thoroughly designed hat between one and three months apart and build a small customer base of people who love our products rather than trying to slap our logo on hats, jump into wholesaling and fizzle out quickly. The brand is much more than the image of our symbol, It's about what the symbol stands for. We've been building brand awareness by handing out stickers and logo t-shirts throughout the summer and fall. If you received a tee, please wear it with pride. We're proud to have you wear it because it means you're one of our first supporters. 

Thanks for reading. --Justin



Twitter: @schoolzonehats