Jason Hardin shares his love of Pasadena with clothing line
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Jason Hardin attended 19 elementary schools as he hopped from relative to relative, trying to find a stable home.
“My parents were unstable,” he says. “My father had trouble with the law.”
As a high school freshman in 1995, Hardin moved from the Bay Area to Van Nuys. However, he attended Pasadena High School.
“Pasadena was the first place I never wanted to leave,” Hardin says.
To show his love for Pasadena and Altadena, he created the Made in Dena clothing line.
“I feel Pasadena isn’t presented on the mainstream media past the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl,” Hardin says. “There is so much more to it. I always loved the businesses here.
“Outside of the political division and borders, Pasadena and Altadena have always been one community for those who grew up here. It was my way of trying to shine light on the community and pay homage to the things I tend to love in Pasadena.”
Thanks to his years at PHS, 1995 to 1998, Pasadena was the first place he had a steady group of friends.
“It was the longest time I went to one school,” he says. “I never stayed anywhere long enough.”
He rode the bus for 2 1/2 hours from Van Nuys to Pasadena High School every day. The time was worth it.
“When I moved to Van Nuys, (his guardian) says I could go to PHS if I could figure out how to get there,” he recalls. “I called the bus lines and found out how to get to PHS. I would take the bus every day, to and fro — even during football season. I didn’t have any time off. I just love the people here, the togetherness and the community.”
After high school, he briefly attended Pasadena City College, where he had access to a computer.
“That’s what got me involved in doing business services and graphic arts for folks,” he says. “I struggled with finding myself and exploring what I was good at. My father passed when I was 19. My mother was still living in San Jose. I was here kind of lost.
“I was homeless right out of high school. I was sleeping on the bus for a few months. I rode the 24-hour bus until school started at PCC and then I could go to my friend’s house and change.”
After college, he started the short-lived magazine The Dena Magazine to help promote the community as well as his friends involved in the arts and business.
“I wanted an affordable, if not free, way to promote my friends,” says Hardin, an avid golfer. “With all that love, I wanted to create something. I did it all myself. I wrote all the stories, sold all the advertising, did the artwork and took the photos.
“It was very, very tiring and overwhelming at points. I became so busy I couldn’t work on that product.”
An independent business consultant, Hardin plans to use Made in Dena with his youth-mentoring projects. He says he believes anyone can create or will themselves into their dream job.
“I don’t care how qualified you are,” he says. “If you create that dream job, you have that job. No one can deny you if you do that. I invite youth to help me. Even if you don’t like T-shirts, you can learn about finance, artwork and marketing.”
Hardin hopes to inspire others. He was lost, but he found his way, thanks to Pasadena.
“I never thought Made in Dena would resonate with so many folks and cross so many borders,” Hardin says. “Pasadena is a very diverse place. I still have an attachment to the city.
“People send me photos of them wearing Made in Dena clothing outside of Pasadena or Altadena. I was just amazed to see how proud people are of Pasadena — just like me.”
For more information, visit huntington.org.
Made in Dena Clothing