There are several clothing companies targeting hockey players, but Steve Neirinckx has purposely marketed his brand differently. Yawning Cage Player Apparel appeals to the serious hockey player and athlete along with his or her family members.
The Thamesford resident works full time as a consultant in project management, but for him clothing and hockey have really gone hand in hand. “As I had kids and started coaching hockey, I noticed all the apparel was predictable and funny. All the stereotypical slangs from the sport are printed on a shirt and that’s great. But I started thinking of the parents who invest in Triple-A hockey for their kids. They aren’t going to wear that stuff.” Steve, who originally went to school for graphic design, then decided to take a more serious approach to the apparel business to appeal to families who are more serious about the sport and it has become a passion for him. “I really enjoyed producing the graphics and coming up with the name. The brand really is unique and stands out,” he added.
Steve says he has so far had a good response but is still learning the ropes of the apparel industry. He also launched the online business just before the pandemic landed which has limited his ability to increase exposure at events like hockey tournaments. He isn’t sure yet what the future holds but understands that now isn’t the time to open a Yawning Cage storefront. “The amount of risk for bricks and mortar stores right now is pretty high but I’m not ruling it out in the future.”
The brand itself has a unique flavour and vision which can be explained best by its own words: “In a society overwhelmed with “bro culture”, we’re here to remind you that this form of living isn’t’ for everyone. We’re a brand for those who represent what it means to be a professional and aren’t concerned with fitting into the classic hockey stereotypes that overwhelm the industry. By wearing the Yawning Cage badge, you’re letting everyone know what kind of person you are. Someone who isn’t just along for the ride. You do whatever it takes, you never settle, and push yourself each day to be the best you can be and achieve success, in whatever it is that you’re doing.”
Steve has made the business a family affair with his blended family modelling the goods on his website. “My wife Melodie is the social media guru. She is really the one who can drive the product through those channels, and she is my consultant on the women’s clothing styles, so I don’t screw that up,” he joked.
The business has pledged to not only use high-quality products but also utilize local suppliers. “The e-commerce website was developed by a local designer and our clothing is all produced in London. It’s especially important for us to buy local because the local community has been supportive of us since we started.”
To have a look at Yawning Cage’s product line or make an order go to www.yawningcage.com.
Rural Oxford Economic Development is a proud supporter of this #RuralOxford startup.