Manhattan Beach’s Chris Kelley launched Ty Clothing earlier this year in honor of his friend Tyler Anderson, an outdoorsman who died in 2010 while working as a mountain guide in Peru.
“It’s another avenue to spread the word of living more and giving back,” Kelley said.
“Live More” is the clothing line’s tag line. Currently, the company offers T-shirts, sweat shirts, hats, women’s apparel and other accessories. Ten percent of the profits will go to a charity of the purchaser’s choice including Heal the Bay, Corporate Angel Network, Central Oregon Trail Alliance or the Tyler Anderson Youth Camp.
According to Kelley, Anderson had “lost his way” in middle school and high school and was sent to an outdoor school in Idaho by his parents. The outdoors soon became his passion. Anderson’s brother Charlie is Kelley’s best friend, and after the 37-year-old Tyler lost his life when he fell in a crevasse while leading his clients up a glacier to the summit of Yanapacha, Kelley attended the funeral and went camping in Bend, Ore., with Charlie.
“I read an article about where you take kids to the outdoors and you kind of change their lives,” Kelley recalled. “I said to Charlie, we were out at Smith Rock in Bend camping, ‘I have this idea. What if we started a camp in honor of Ty? What if we started a camp for inner-city kids? He was like: ‘Really?’ I’m like, ‘Let’s do it.’ We talked to our wives, they said we were crazy.”
About eight months later they had their first camp in Bend and the Tyler Anderson Youth Camp was formed. They flew 10 children from Compton and Gardena to Bend and took them, along with two local children, hiking, camping and canoeing, activities they had never participated in. Since the first camp, they have included children from New Jersey, Colorado and more from Los Angeles.
“My best moment of the camp was the first time when we were in the airplane because eight of the 10 kids had never been in an airplane … we were taking off and you could see their faces,” he said. “We were going through clouds, we got above the clouds and they were like they had seen the most amazing thing in their life.”
But Kelley realized that seeing these children once a year could not have a “huge affect” on their lives, even though he and his wife would take some of the children to Disneyland or the beach during the year. So in 2012, he founded the Ty Learning Center, which is located at Image Solutions in Torrance, a company he founded 18 years ago in his Redondo Beach apartment. Kelley also gives back through Image Solutions, which supplies uniforms to companies like Chili’s, Albertsons and DirectTV, by donating 10 percent of the annual profits to the Tyler Anderson Youth Camp and other charities like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The Ty Learning Center is for the youth camp students living in Gardena. The twice-weekly mentoring sessions are run by a full-time program manager and it’s staffed by Image Solutions employees that volunteer their time with the students to help them with school. Kelley set up an awards system to get the students motivated,which includes trips to Universal Studios or to the youth camp. He said the system has proven results, especially for one student.
“Jesus is a great kid. Last quarter he gave up and he got Fs and Ds in a couple of classes, so we didn’t let him go, and he was very upset, he was crying, I understood that,” Kelley said. “I said to him, ‘I’m not going to do this. I’m not going to put time, energy and money into you if you’re going to give up on us. That’s not what we’re about here at the Ty Learning Center.’ So he’s back this year, and he’s got all As and Bs and he’s No. 1 out of all 12 kids in terms of his assignment logs (finishing homework).”
Ty Clothing recently donated 250 hats to Heal the Bay in its efforts to halt oil drilling in Hermosa Beach. The hats, which are not for sale but given to Heal the Bay supporters and volunteers, read “Oil and Water Don’t Mix.”
Another T-shirt reads, “Make your own peanut butter,” a nod to Tyler Anderson.
“When he was in Huaraz, he loved peanut butter and it was really hard to come by and expensive … so he would get peanuts in Lima, bring them up and make his own peanut butter, grind it. We have that concept—make your own peanut butter. Instead of buying dinner from McDonald’s or Chipotle, go make it. Find your own path.”
“We really want to get people active. Go out and do something. Don’t sit on the couch. Don’t be on your phone or computer. Go surfing, go in the water, build a sand castle (or) cook your own food. Make your own peanut butter.”