The Privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. ~Joseph Campbell
From the Sea came The Crown Brands. Sideout, King of the Beach & Miramar.
The American Riviera Brands
It all started in blue with Sideout® in 1984 at the University of California at Berkeley at a Frat House.
The Crown Brands (Sideout®, King of the Beach® , King of the Court®, Queen of the Beach®,Queen of the Court®, King of the Snow™, Queen of the Snow™ and Miramar®) were originally founded 35 years ago, together with Sideout®, along the Golden Coast of California, the birthplace of beach volleyball, by Stephen Yount Ascher, Jr. (“Steve”), a serial entrepreneur, ski racer and volleyball lover.
Steve met Christopher St. John Smith (“Sinjin”) one day in Montecito, California with Charles W. Malouf (“Chuck”), an apparel executive and mentor and an investor in Steve from the beginning, from Pasadena, California. The three met at their Miramar beach house at Miramar Beach, a small, two-story bungalow along the shores of the American Riviera.
The Miramar Beach House was made famous by artist Hank Pitcher, also from Pasadena, in a painting “Tommy’s Miramar”, Miramar Beach, Beach House Boards, with Steve’s volleyball net, strung right in front it. The picture still hangs above Steve’s bed in Pasadena.
Steve and Sinjin are “Bears” and “Bruins” and passionate athletes from Cal (Blue is his House, Cal ’84, No. 7) and UCLA (Blue is his House, UCLA ’79, No. 22, UCLA Hall of Fame 1991) respectively. Chuck went to Stanford (Cardinal was his House) and Chuck was a “Tree”.
Chuck Malouf, Steve’s business mentor, and Godfather of his son, Conner Willson Ascher (“Conner”) passed away peacefully at his home in Pasadena in the Crown City on March 2. Chuck was the Chairman of the Board of The Crown Brands from the beginning.
Sadly, we lost a true ‘King’ and legend yesterday. Our Board was convened at 3 pm pacific time at the Miramar home office, in Pasadena, the Crown City to recognize Chuck. All the original “Miramar Men” and Board Members were present in person or by phone, except Chuck. His chair was empty, but our prayers are for him and his new journey, and for his beautiful wife, Margot.
Chuck went to Stanford, an arch rival school to Cal, but Steve didn’t care, “which tells you a lot about Steve” says Sinjin. “Steve is a complex guy, you don’t need to meet him for long to work that out. And, Steve loves everyone, he’d give you the shirt off his back… but, he can’t play volleyball” Sinjin chuckled. To that, Steve laughed and quipped back ” Yeah, but Sinjin can’t ski so it’s okay”.
Despite their differences, the two paddled in and took off together on a personal journey and the surf trip of their lives. They have never looked back since. Their story together continues on to this day…
Yo, listen up! Here’s the story, it’s “The Privilege of a Lifetime.”
Steve and Sinjin quickly sized each other up on an early “surf trip” to Cabo San Lucas, where Sinjin’s brother Paul was living. When they were thirsty for a beer under the Cabo sun, they decided to play together for the first time against some locals to win the first “King of the Beach” in a Mexican Open tournament for fun in 1984. Sinjin turned to Steve as the first ball flew towards them and shouted “Steve, wake up! Stay in the corner, just set me the ball, get back there and watch! Don’t come near the net or we’re dead!”
Steve and Sinjin won their first “King of the Beach” title in 1984, a cold six-pack of Corona beer at “The Office” and a ball. Steve was to never step on the court in competition with Sinjin again. From that day on, Steve stood back, watched as Sinjin’s sponsor, and “went to work.” Sinjin stayed on the court, building the Royal Crown Brands into the powerhouse brands they are today.
Along the way, Sinjin went on to become the greatest beach volleyball player of all time, pitch-man, Olympian and “Face of the Sport” of global volleyball. His “movie star” good looks earned him a spot in People Magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. Sinjin won over 145 Open tournaments, 5 World Championships, 5 Manhattan Beach Opens, many of them with his legendary partner, Randy Stoklos (“Randy”). Sinjin helped build volleyball into a professional sport in the US, and around the world. It is through Sinjin that Beach Volleyball became an Olympic Sport in 1996.
With Steve off the court (Sinjin and Randy would occasionally allow Steve to “be the sponsor” at only significant victories and milestones) and managing the Crown Brands from “The Office”, Sinjin would go on a tear with Randy at their “Office” and win 114 Opens. Together the two would set records still unequaled today. They are the “Kings of the Beach” and won so many World Championships in Rio de Janeiro that they’re still known as the ‘Kings of Rio” in front of the Copacabana Palace.
Steve and Sinjin would dream up marketing ideas like “let’s make an iconic movie together and call it Sideout, featuring C. Thomas Howell, Peter Horton, Harley Jane Kozak and Courtney Thorne-Smith. Or, how about an iconic Sideout® King of the Beach® poster when the cameras first rolled for beach volleyball in 1988? Sometimes they’d pull things off, and sometimes there were some ups and downs along the way.
But, together off the court, Steve and Sinjin would build the now iconic Royal Crown Brands and the greatest beach volleyball in the world, the “King of the Beach”, preferred by real volleyball enthusiasts worldwide. “There are hundreds of iconic beach volleyball courts around the world where you are not allowed on the court with any other ball than the “King of the Beach”, according to Sinjin.
Steve would go on to become one of the most respected and successful brand managers and agents in the world today. His global brand management firm, Miramar Brands Group, Inc. builds iconic global fashion, media and consumer-facing brands like ELLE and Elle Decor and others.
Today, together with Steve’s son Stephen Yount (“Stevie”) Ascher, III, Miramar’s President, they’re playing a mentor role with Stevie in helping to build magazines like Cannabis Now.
Sinjin’s son, Hagen Smith, named after legendary beach volleyball player Ron Von Hagen, leads the journey out on the court for The Royal Crown Brands with Steve and his Dad. Steve’s son Stevie is now “in the field” with Hagen.
Stevie is staying off the beach, too, like his Dad. Together they all lead Miramar® and The Royal Crown Brands. With Stevie and Hagen “in the field”, new and fresh ideas are pouring into the company, leading Miramar to the future of global brands and media worldwide.
After 35 years, The Crown Brands are still with Mikasa, too, making the highest quality beach volleyballs in the world, the Mikasa® King of the Beach® Official Tour Ball. Events of The Royal Crown Brands today include both King and Queen of the Beach® grassroots tour events, King and Queen of the Court® international FIVB events licensed to Sportworx in the Netherlands, and now, snow volleyball! The second annual King and Queen of the Snow™ will be held at Mammoth, April 5-7, 2019
“We still host some of the greatest events on the planet”, Sinjin said to Steve. “And we’re lucky and grateful” Steve quipped back. Steve then threw the keys to his car to Sinjin and said “you drive now, take me back to the beach again. I want to play again with you. We might win our second Open together!”
Smith chuckled and said, “get in back seat Steve, where do you want to go?” Steve won gold at his second “Open”, this time with Sinjin’s son Stanton Smith and friends at Sorrento Beach on February 23rd, 2019.
Sinjin is now the Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles based Miramar Brands Group, Inc. (“Miramar”) and Phoenix based Omnichannel World, LLC (“Omnichanel”).
“Steve has incredible creativity and talent, an amazing vision and a heart of gold. I’ve executed on a few things in my career, so we’re gonna keep our eye on the ball together. I’m excited to learn from Steve now, he’s a winner and we’re looking forward to continuing to build the companies together with our partners and sons, Stevie and Hagen, at the helm with us. I’m looking forward to the future for Miramar and Omnichanel. I’m excited to shepherd in the next generation.”
The Crown Brands. Our brands and partners are some of the most powerful media and entertainment companies in the world. Our products are here to enhance your experience and journey to the sea under one lifestyle.
“Blessed are the arrogant For there is the kingdom of their own company. Blessed are the superstars. For the magnificence in their light We understand better our own insignificance. Blessed are the filthy rich For you can only truly own what you give away.” ~U2, “Get Out of Your Own Way”
By King of the Beach