Jon Stevenson understands the genius of simplicity. It helped him create his high-end children’s wear company Trumpette, which also holds creativity and audacity in high regard.
Those values are apparent in the eclectic, art-laden Carmichael home Stevenson shares with partner John Silici.
Stevenson and Silici purchased the house eight years ago after Trumpette had moved its headquarters to the capital city from Petaluma. The pair selected Sacramento as it split the difference between their two hometowns and families – Stevenson was born and raised in Stockton, where his father and son each live, and Silici is from San Francisco, where his parents reside.
Stevenson is the founder and CEO of Trumpette, 2020 I St., Sacramento, with a retail outlet on the ground floor and company offices above. Silici serves as vice president of operations for the business, which earned more than $7 million in sales last year.
Both Stevenson and Silici have design and visual aesthetics in their backgrounds, and a house that needed a little work was not a problem for them. In fact, it was just what they were looking for.
“I saw the potential, I knew we had to beef up our game,” Stevenson said. “We were living in Fair Oaks in a smaller house, and we just knew this house had tons and tons of potential. It’s been fun doing it.”
“We’ve basically done everything that you see, the fountains, swimming pools,” Silici said. “I like working outside. We raise bonsai trees. We have all kinds of different pets, love birds, turtles, fish, dogs. It’s a perfect size, an acre. We enjoy it a lot.”
While a definite sense of style runs throughout, the sprawling house feels cozy and lived in. You don’t have a problem sitting on a couch or lounging on the deck.
“I think the most incredible, most rewarding thing for me is when someone says my home is comfortable or warm,” Stevenson said. “That is the ultimate compliment.”
The renovation included installing an elegant koi pond in the front of the house, where there had been rose bushes, and a sleek lap pool in back, replacing a thicket of olive trees.
Inside the house, the kitchen, living and dining rooms were opened up, creating space for entertaining and their extensive, varied art and photography collection.
“I’ve always prided myself on never being into a specific look,” Stevenson said.
Most recently, he’s had the exterior painted black.
“We were in Amsterdam and we saw a lot of black buildings, very chic, big tall skinny ones,” Stevenson said. “I sort of put it in the back of my brain. Then last year I went to Oregon and I saw a lot of black buildings and I started photographing them. I called John and said we should paint our house black. So we did.”
Sculpture, photographs, paintings, drawings and lithographs are all around outside and inside, from the floors to the ceilings.
The living room has large framed black-and-white photos (one of tulips by the late Robert Mapplethorpe, another of a young Zsa Zsa Gabor by photographer Jesse Bravo). A funky Joe Mariscal ceramic dog is also featured (they own three real dogs), as well as Asian statuettes.
Stevenson said the room was the central space of the original 1903 farm house.
“That’s why the walls are so thick,” he said.
In other rooms are works by Wayne Thiebaud, Diane Arbuss and Andy Warhol.
Stevenson had a significant art collection before he came to Sacramento, and he’s been an active supporter of regional artists, purchasing work by Mariscal, Mike Stevens, Suzanne Adan, Patrick Marrasso and Michaele LeCompte, among others.
His support for the arts also includes membership on the boards of the Crocker Art Museum, B Street Theatre, the Race for the Arts, CSAA and Verge Center for the Arts; he’s starting his own Jon Stevenson Foundation for the Arts.
Stevenson was running two men’s stores in San Francisco when Trumpette evolved. He had created a simple T-shirt with the word “BOY” stenciled across the front for his son Nicky.
After fielding inquiries about where to get the the shirt, he made some for his store, as well as a “GIRL” version. They sold out in three days and Stevenson realized he was on to something.
He made the shirts in eight others languages, and soon socks and other accessories followed. Stevenson sold his men’s wear stores and concentrated on building Trumpette.
Celebrities have given the company a boost with children of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Drew Barrymore and Hillary Scott photographed wearing Trumpette attire.
“I’ve been very eclectic in my business with my designers,” Stevenson said. “I don’t want them to just do baby socks or just to do this one thing. I don’t want to pigeonhole them. I don’t want them stuck in a rut.”
On a kitchen wall – appropriately enough – is a photo of a baby in a onesie with the famous “Got Milk?” tagline across the front. It’s one of Stevenson’s favorite Tumpette creations.
He had licensed logos from Ringling Brothers and Campbell Soup, among others, when he saw a “Got Milk?” billboard and had an idea. When he called the Milk Advisory Board, which owned the copyright, they offered it to him for free.
“We did ‘Got Milk?’ in pink, blue and white and it took off, and that really got the momentum of Trumpette going,” Stevenson said.
More simplicity, creativity and audacity followed.
“I came up with the idea of 12 pairs of baby socks in an egg carton – ‘a perfect little dozen,’ ” Stevenson said. “John came up with the name. We didn’t quite have the brand recognition that we have now, but that one concept has turned Trumpette into what it is today.
“There are a lot of knockoffs, but we are the original.”