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Jason Trice went from a football hall-of-famer to owning a nationally recognized clothing brand. Now, he wants to encourage his customers to vote.

FLINT, MI—Jason Trice is a self-admitted “serial entrepreneur.” The Flint native’s brand, Bedrock Apparel, is known internationally, but it’s not his first time starting a successful business venture.

“I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life,” The Grand Valley State University alumnus told The ‘Gander. “I was in Miami running a successful luxury concierge.”

The Miami-based business served the who’s-who of South Beach, including NBA superstar Dwayne Wade and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union. 

Trice returned to Flint to care for his ill mother. As the youngest of her children, he wanted to shutter the Miami business to return home. Family and community were his top priorities.

“From the day I moved home, she lived another two years and three months,” he said. “So, I spent as much time as I could, and helped as much as I could, with everything.”

Trice says the community embraced him the moment he returned home. 

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Flint Goes Viral. Again.

While caring for his mother, Trice’s entrepreneurial and creative brain continued to innovate. He developed an apparel design and colorway (the specific and customizable range and combination of colors) that were unique and decided to set up shop. At the time, the fashion industry was plagued with stories of racist retail items and design houses. 

The landscape offered opportunity to Bedrock Apparel, which Trice incorporated in February 2018.

“Gabrielle and D Wade only wore Black designs at the [2018] All Star game,” Trice recalled of the public endorsement that set his brand on the path to international recognition. “Two months later, In Style Magazine was writing a story on her book and they asked her what she wore to her book club. And lo and behold, at that time, she said in the article ‘I wear the coziest of sweatshirts right now, and that is Bedrock Apparel.’”

Since then, NFL, NBA, and other celebrities have publicly endorsed or worn the brand. Trice credits Union with the brand recognition he currently receives from the public.

“Still, to this day, as you go on her [Union’s Instagram] page, you’ll see her daughter wearing it,” he said. “And I mean, you can’t pay for that. You gotta think, 10 million people are seeing that whenever she does that.”

Gabrielle Union is a Proud Supporter of BEDROCK APPAREL.

Posted by Bedrock Apparel on Thursday, May 3, 2018

Bedrock Apparel and entrepreneurs like Trice give a new life to the usual Flint newscycle, usually filled with stories of poisoned water and blight. 

“And it was a horrible depiction of what people thought the city was like,” he said of the city’s image in the press. “When I came home I wanted to give the city something positive.”

Through community connections like his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Trice was able to leverage key relationships to help further his newest business. The city’s then-mayor Karen Weaver would begin public addresses by saying, “Welcome to Bedrock,” according to Trice.

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Bedrock the Vote

For years, Michiganders both in and outside the city have played on its name by referring to its residents as “Flintstones,” named after the popular cartoon that first began airing in 1960. The hometown of the animated characters was called Bedrock.

“The word ‘bedrock’, it’s so easily relatable to anybody in our community because they also can identify with it,” Trice said. “And then when you look at how strong and resilient we are as a city, as a community.”

Political candidates who visit the state are often introduced to Trice. The business owner is a celebrity in his own right, playing college football at Grand Valley State under Coach Brian Kelly (now head coach of Notre Dame) and later inducted into the GVSU hall of fame in 2017.

“I met with a lot of [candidates],” he said. “Corey Booker came, Beto O’Rourke and others [but] I’m not overly political. Obviously we love Biden because Biden was a part of Barack [Obama]…and Barack was and is everything to us as a community and my family.”

He most recently met Sen. Kamala Harris during her visit to the city last week.

Trice isn’t pushing his customers or the Flint community to become political mavens, but he does want them to vote in the general election. Bedrock Apparel will host a voting drive titled “Bedrock the Vote” on Oct. 9, with hopes of hosting other events as the election draws nearer.

“It’s kind of a tag to this company itself, but also because I have all of the young hip-hop guys, a lot of young rappers, and young athletes [paying attention]. They all love our store. And I know a lot of them have not voted. 

“They don’t know how to vote. They have never been taught. When in high-school, did they teach us that? So, not only do we have to help them get registered to vote, we have to teach them what to vote for.”

Shared Goals

Voter suppression has largely been an issue within the Republican party, with some lawmakers blatantly saying the election cannot be won if all eligible voters cast ballots. Democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been working in ways similarly to Trice to get more voters to the polls.

The campaign released an ad this week targeting voters like Trice and his customers.

Trice says he already knew which candidate would be getting his vote.

“I felt he [Biden] was old enough, strong enough, had seen enough, [and] that whatever these games President Trump was playing was not going to affect him,” Trice said of the Democratic candidate. 

Michigan voters are encouraged to begin casting ballots now in person at local clerks’ offices, by mail, and by drop box. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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