The Azhiaziam Story:
It was an obsession way back in 1983 with a young surfer who only wanted to go fast and catch "Air" off of the waves. Now it’s grown into a multifaceted brand encompassing all sorts of anti-gravity sports, and musicians and artists from all over the Globe. We all share a common bond; we are all AZHIAZIAM.
Founder Mike Lopaka Jones grew up in Los Osos, California surfing the rugged waters of the Central Coast. His mother, a Hawaiian native, made sure to get "Mikey" in the water at a young age. Unfortunately, back when he began surfing (1979), there were not many other surfers in the 5- to 6-year-old range, so he would often surf all alone as his mom sat on the beach waiting for her son to get some waves. It was over this time that he had developed his surfing skills, mostly alone, with no father figure or older surfer to guide him in the waves. When he did end up surfing around people, some older guys would get mad at him for launching airs off the top of every wave that he caught. "What are you doing!?" people would shout. "Stay on the face; you are wasting waves!" By this point, the still pre-teen Mike Jones realized that his approach was not liked by the Old Guard Surfers. "Catching Air" was not a respectable maneuver and should not be done! But that didn’t stop him.
Mike's first time making actual "Surf Buddies" started in junior high, when on the first day of school he met a slew of surfer kids from the neighboring town of Morro Bay who had already formed a posse and had been surfing with each other for years. From that day on, Mike joined their ranks and quickly became one of their crew. These young kids embraced the whole "Catching Air" thing, though only a few could actually do airs. This tight-knit group was the catalyst for a life-long pursuit of getting higher and higher with every air.
During his junior high and high school years Mike competed in surf contests up and down the California Coast, in both NSSA and WSA Sanctioned events, dreaming of someday being a professional surfer. This was all sidelined when Mike made the decision to join the U.S. Navy during the Gulf War to serve his country – and hopefully get some waves along the way.
In 1995, after four years in the Navy and surfing whenever possible in places like Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia, Korea, Kwajalein, Hawaii, and Guam, Mike was eager to get home and continue surfing competitively. His surf buddies from school were all surfing in professional events by this time, so Mike kicked right back into gear and surfed every pro event he could enter on the West Coast. Over the course of surfing in these events, Mike realized surf competition judging criteria was biased against the way that he surfed; doing “Airs" was still frowned upon, and doing an air in a heat would get a score of a 3 (out of 10) while another competitor could do a few little wiggles on a wave and get a 6 or an 8! Mike thought this was totally unfair as he knew the difficulty in his maneuvers should have garnished higher scores than simple and safe surfing. Frustrated with the system, Mike decided to focus more on his college education and free surfing every day to hone his aerial prowess.
It’s now 2019, and Aerial Surfing is embraced in professional surfing, and a perfect score of a 10 can be achieved with a single aerial maneuver.
While in college at Cal Poly, Mike formed a band called Bootsie Merango. Their Cali Funk Reggae-infused mix of music was highly danceable and they became the top band in San Luis Obispo County. It was during this musical and educational time period that Mike had a doodle book full of drawings, song lyrics and ideas. One night he had scribbled down the word AZ.HI.AZ.I.AM in the book. He chuckled but didn't think much of it, it was just one of hundreds of ideas in his doodle book. It took a while before he started to see that the word was special. Friends would come over to his house and pick up the doodle book, glancing through the different drawings and lyrics. As they would turn the pages, they seemed to always stop at a certain point in the book and ask, "What does that say?" Mike would reply "AS HIGH AS I AM" only to see the faces light up and people exclaim, "THAT'S SICK!"
Mike started making “Az.hi.az.i.aM” stickers that he passed out by the tens of thousands. When he would run out of them, people would always be clamoring for more stickers. But they wanted pretty much anything with the name on it. And were willing to pay him whatever he wanted to charge to get it. The demand was overwhelming and Mike decided it was a no-brainer to turn this name into a company and incorporate his life-long love of surfing and “catching air” into the concept of this word that had become such a phenomenon in the area: A brand to represent the trailblazers in the underappreciated art of aerial maneuvering in surfing.
And thus Azhiaziam, a brand representing a passion for the defiance of gravity, was born.
Azhiaziam’s first store opened its doors in Los Osos, California in 2003. The 400-square-foot shop carried the first products of the Azhiaziam brand. Some were T-shirts that had been screen-printed in Mike’s house on a tabletop printing press, others were trucker hats with an Azhiaziam stencil cut-out spray-painted across the front. There were wetsuits, surf gear, hoodies, hats, and decals. Locals and people from around the world were in there every day, excited to support an authentic brand.
Throughout the following years, the Azhiaziam base was growing. Some were groms that embodied what the company represented. Many of Azhiaziam’s biggest fans weren’t surfers, but skateboarders, base jumpers, motocross racers, rock climbers, jet-skiers, musicians – boundary pushers. What Mike quickly realized was that there were countless other sports based on catching air, and those athletes truly wanted to be a part of what Azhiaziam represented. And so Azhiaziam came to incorporate these innovators from all walks of life and all areas of interest, with a special emphasis on those sports that were pushing past the constraints of the status quo and pulling gravity-defying maneuvers.
Azhiaziam went on to hold Surfing “Air” Competitions locally, host music events, and sponsor up-and-coming bands like Iration and Rebelution. Azhiaziam has sponsored AzHiAzIaM products to surf innovators like Christian and Greyson Fletcher, Chris Ward, Ryan Carlson, Chuck Patterson to name a few. Azhiaziam team members from other sports have included Vert, Street and Down Hill Skaters, Motocross, Ultra 4 Racing, Bull Riders, Base Jumpers, Jet Skiers and many, many more.
But deep down, AzHiAzIaM is for everyone. You don’t have to be active in some wild sport to be AzHiAzIaM. It can be whatever YOU want it to be. Define it for yourself. And that is the best part about the brand. Stay AzHiAzIaM.
OUR RETAIL SHOP IS LOCATED AT:
1140 Front Street Unit B
Morro Bay California 93442