Anyone who has spent a summer afternoon on the sidelines of a local lacrosse tournament knows the dizzying medley of swinging sticks, cheering parents, determined athletes and colorful gear. Yes, savvy marketers have taken advantage of a culture enthralled with its sport and eager to advertise its membership into it. Out of this, came LAX SO HARD, the vision of a Baltimore lacrosse mom and her effort to fill the void in what she sees as authentic sports gear.
With two teenage sons, Jen Vick spent eight years cheering at games, enjoying every minute of their tournament travel. She and her husband adopted a cheer that derived from a well-known Kanye West song telling their boys to “Get out there and lax so hard!” The cheer, and the idea for a business, was the beginning of her nascent clothing line LAX SO HARD.
Jen began to notice that while lacrosse players of both sexes favored traditional lacrosse gear there was little specifically for girls. Instead, girls wore the clothing meant for their brothers. While major lines experimented with girls clothing, it was more of a dabble than a focus. As a former high school athlete, Jen saw the opportunity to create a clothing line that would offer cool stuff for the girls, as well as their moms and brothers.
While the idea was an easy one, the execution was not. Jen admits that besides being a “die hard” Project Runway fan, she did not have design or retail experience, much less the professional experience to start and run a business or launch a brand. Friends and contacts in the lacrosse and retail industries helped, guiding her through the process. Seeing the entire production process from start to finish can be a challenge at times, with Jen on long road-trips from Baltimore to Miami, trucking bolts of fabric from North Carolina to her manufacturer in Florida.
From the beginning, Jen has focused her attention on the features customers want that the industry lacked, from fabric to design to graphics. Each LAX SO HARD graphic design incorporates an aspect of the sport. The line’s Maryland flag lacrosse shorts differ from others in that the flag itself is woven into the lacrosse head graphic. She’s also careful to distinguish between a boy’s head and a girl’s head in her stick designs. The line’s lacrosse flower key shirt, for example, speaks to female lacrosse players by using a girl’s lacrosse head in each petal of the flower design. Her most recent design endeavor is a flag series representing state and US flags within her t-shirt and shorts graphics, giving a nod to the sport’s American roots.
Last summer, Jen took her product on the road, traveling to tournaments up and down the East Coast to raise brand awareness and push product. As her brand grows, she looks to move away from tournament promotion to online and retail sales. Launches of the brand at local children’s clothing store Wee Chic and Vernon Powell the Athlete stores are upcoming and she has partnered with Amazon.com to help with the sale and distribution of LAX SO HARD online products.
At first, she worried her own boys would dismiss the business as a “mom thing,” but as they began to recognize distinctive LAX SO HARD t-shirts at tournaments in New York and New Jersey, they saw the success of their mom’s endeavor and became two of her biggest supporters. Any why not? LAX SO HARD reflects a love and respect for the game that appeals to the athletes who play the sport and the adults who support them. In a lacrosse loving town like Baltimore, that’s a marketing plan destined for success.