Growing up in Chicago, having lived in Wisconsin, spending lots of time on the east coast, and now living in southern California, O'Donnell had been exposed to all walks of life, from the midwest farmer to the east coast prep to the west coast "dude". The stage was set to build an apparel brand whose recipe included just a "dash" of flavor from all of the above.
As word quickly spread about the johnnie-O brand, an emergence of shoppers looking to "step out" in a classic, yet fun way followed suit. From its humble beginning as just an ordinary polo shirt, the johnnie-O line has evolved into an apparel and lifestyle brand distinctly defined as "west coast prep". Items for men, women, and children now include shirts, belts, hats, socks, sweatshirts, and other specialty items including all weather shorts, the "wedge" collar pique polo, as well as johnnie-O GolfSkins.
The brand has attracted the likes of celebrity personalities including NFL quarterback Drew Brees, tennis legend Pete Sampras, baseball ace Barry Zito, as well as actors Adrian Grenier of "Entourage", Luke Wilson, and brother, Chris O'Donnell. Additionally, johnnie-O sponsors the racing efforts of GT superstar and recent Rolex Series Rookie of the year, Tim George Jr.
The brand has also been recognized philanthropically for its contributions to numerous charitable organizations such as Autism Speaks, The BreesDream Foundation, Friends of Golf Foundation, The John Thomas Dye School Foundation, among many others.
John O'Donnell - Bio
O'Donnell was born in St. Louis, but spent most of his childhood in the northern suburbs of Chicago with his six brothers and sisters, including his most famous sibling, actor Chris O'Donnell.
An avid golfer since age 12, O'Donnell played on the golf team at UCLA, where he majored in history and business. O'Donnell emerged from the collegiate ranks as a competitive amateur golfer, participating in five USGA events, including two U.S. Amateur championships. He also played in The World Club Championships in Korea, The Unibank Open in Rio de Janeiro, and a slew of club tournaments and invitationals.
In addition to his sporting pursuits, O'Donnell developed a knack for business while selling radio advertising in Madison, WI. From there he took a television advertising role with Fox Sports Net Chicago before returning to the California sun by way of the Golf Channel's Los Angeles office.
Known as johnnie-O to friends, the idea for the brand started in 2005 while helping a buddy with a hobby. O'Donnell quickly recognized a potential business opportunity and developed the first pieces for friends on a golf trip. To their delight, the "surfer dude" shirts added a twist on their golf wardrobes, and before long, the word spread and the johnnie-O line was created.
A creative designer at heart, O'Donnell has expanded the line to include men's, women's, and children's apparel. Today, such celebrities as Adrian Grenier of "Entourage" fame, tennis legend Pete Sampras, football star Drew Brees and baseball Cy Young winner Barry Zito can also be seen sporting johnnie-O.
O'Donnell now resides in Los Angeles where he continues chipping away at his golf and business legacies.