Childhood best friends, pickleball lovers and now business owners! Meet the women behind Varsity Pickle. Karen and Adele created Varsity Pickle for the pickleball player who wants a little style on and off the court. We recently spoke with them about their designs, where the name came from, and what is next! View the full line here.
Why did you start Varsity Pickle?
We’ve been best friends our entire lives. We spent our childhood rollerblading, jumping on the trampoline, and making up dances. We first learned how to play pickleball in middle school gym class and constantly got in trouble for talking too much during the lessons. We both picked it up again in the past few years (along with millions of others) and still probably talk more than we play.
When we looked online for pickleball apparel, most of what we saw wasn't designed well – flaming pickleballs, clip-art graphics – not the kind of clothing we would want to wear.
We have backgrounds in design and marketing, so we decided to collaborate and create a line of apparel you can wear on and off the court that is playful, fun, and cool. We are also, coincidentally, both very passionate about pickles (the food) and would definitely make varsity if there were a team.
How did you come up with the name?
We weren't really 'varsity athletes' in high school. We blended in and didn't embarrass ourselves, but never knew the thrill of being a varsity star. So the first time we ever won a pickleball game, it felt like we might finally be good at something. We created Varsity Pickle to celebrate every level of pickle player with gear that makes you proud to play.
Can you talk us through the design process?
Pickleball is fun, and we let that inform the creative direction. A collegiate, retro aesthetic felt right to us. It was important to choose styles and materials that players would be comfortable in and we would wear ourselves. Our sweatshirts are all super soft but light, and our performance wear is very high quality, sweat-wicking material.
People often ask us “What makes pickleball clothing different from other sports?” The answer is not much, really, but pickleball players want you to know they play pickleball, so we feature pickle branding on all of our gear. It’s a strong community! When you see someone with a pickleball shirt on, you have to tell them you’re part of the pickleball club too!
How is it running a business with your bestie?
So fun. Duh! It’s no surprise that after 30+ years of friendship, we’d make a great partnership. We have different strengths and we help bring the best out in each other. We know how to work hard but still find time to laugh at ourselves. Plus it’s super helpful, that when we reference our 7th grade gym teacher vibes, we both know exactly what that means.
How long have you two been playing Pickleball?
We started in middle school, played a bit in high school, and then picked it up again in the past few years.
We love to play pick-up games, on vacation, with people older than us, younger than us, for exercise, and even after a few beers. All that said, we are both totally average pickleball players. We are NOT tournament ready. But we definitely have fun out on the court!
What do you love about Pickleball?
We love how simple pickleball is to pick up compared to other sports. Even your first game is fun! Everybody makes varsity, and then there is so much room to level up.
What else can we expect from Varsity Pickle in the future?
Besides world domination? A kids’ line and more awesome, retro gear.
We are excited to see more apparel coming to pickleball and look forward to seeing what else Varsity Pickle brings to their collection. Shop now at PickleballCentral.