News and Events
Alumni Chris Detert and Guy Jordan Bring New Energy to the PR World
"I set up a tent in my backyard," remembers Chris Detert (SC '01), "and filled it with shoes. I'd take people to my car or meet them in an alley or parking lot—anything I could do to talk about those shoes." Detert tirelessly hit the streets to promote his first client Osiris Shoes. He set up a home office and saved capital for a business space. From these humble beginnings grew American Rebel PR.
The public relations agency has expanded dramatically since its inception in 2006, now employing five fulltime staffers and another five interns. No longer relegated to a tent or a car, American Rebel increased its real estate from two offices to three in the last year alone. The fast-tracking agency now represents about a dozen clients, up from only three or four just a few months ago.
Those are significant achievements for Detert and business partner Guy Jordan (SC '01), his best friend and former Pepperdine roommate. American Rebel thrives on their connection, a fitting characteristic for these professionals whose livelihood depends on the cultivation of successful relationships.
"We have a really strong friendship," says Detert, "and we've built solid, important relationships with the right people. We're really good at utilizing those relationships, and we've always done right by the companies we've worked for."
Fresh out of Pepperdine, the twosome began working for the same company but via different routes. Detert explored his rock n' roll spirit in college, and played a regular gig at the local Malibu Inn. "I always wanted to make music my profession," Detert says, "but when it came to forming a band and hitting the road, I realized it wasn't my cup of tea after all." He sought a way to stick with the music industry and took a job with an entertainment management company called The Firm. He started in the mailroom and rapidly rose to assistant manager within two years.
Soon Detert learned of an opportunity with an upstart fashion company called Von Dutch. "The day I got there, they were putting carpet in the first-ever Von Dutch store," he recalls. "I sat in the waiting room with a table full of interesting, candid photos. I saw this was a raw company that was really starting to get going."
He was right. The company, then worth only $2 to 3 million, grew to $35 that year and doubled again the following year. At age 24, only eight months after he started with Von Dutch, Detert became the company's vice president of marketing and PR.
Although Von Dutch enjoyed favored status with celebrities and coverage in the press, it had begun to decline when consultant Jay Wilson came in to assess it. Wilson was about to be installed as president of Osiris Shoes and wanted Detert to do for Osiris what he had done for Von Dutch. He offered Detert twice his salary to start his own agency and take Osiris on as a client.
While continuing to work with Von Dutch, Detert hit the pavement for his new client and began his guerilla marketing campaign. After six months he had the money for an office and American Rebel PR finally found a home.
Detert also found a business partner in his longtime friend Guy Jordan. They first met in a summer bridge program before their freshman year at Seaver College. The two clicked and roomed together all four years. They both declared advertising majors, scheduled their classes together, and even pledged together for fraternity Sigma Pi.
Jordan joined The Firm's mailroom team with Detert after graduation. "I didn't even know what the company was about at the time," he recalls. "I'd graduated and thought, 'A job right after school? I'll take it!'" Like his friend, Jordan was promoted quickly. He became the assistant to the head of marketing and then marketing coordinator, handling ancillary income for clients and integrated marketing programs.
While throwing a Super Bowl party in San Diego, Jordan met rapper Snoop Dogg. "We hit it off, and about seven months later he asked me to manage him at The Firm." Jordan jumped at the chance, but within two years he had grown frustrated with management. He missed the marketing side of the business, and took a position handling The Doors brand and Jim Morrison's estate. During this period Jordan reconnected with his old college friend and signed up with Detert's budding PR business.
With Jordan on the American Rebel team, the agency went on a client signing spree. They clinched a deal with Matt and Nat, a vegan handbag line out of Montreal, Canada. The duo went to the Sundance Film Festival and snagged Vivitar Camera Company. Next came Olevia TV, and more.
"It's definitely something we both get really excited about," Detert says of their work. "By falling backwards into it, we realized that PR is the business for us. It really plays to our strengths."
Staying strong in the business and doing it their way remain Detert and Jordan's biggest goals. They admit that "it really helps to be your own boss," an attitude reflected in the agency's name. "The image of an American rebel is about youth, strength, and an unconventional way to solve problems," Detert says. "And that's us."