Life and Times of Bumpy Pitch Vol. 1
When we first started Bumpy Pitch we had no idea what we were doing. We didn't know the first thing about designing or manufacturing clothes. We were soccer players who just so happened to have an had an idea for a business. And that was about all we had. There were a handful of people that we turned to when we were seeking advice. We asked questions and were curious and we were eager to start trying to build something that we believed in. But with no experience and very little knowledge about the apparel space it was / and has been tough at times to navigate.
So we wanted to start a series where we share some of our experiences that we have encountered along the way. Some things we did well. Some things we completely screwed up. And some daily things that we go through.
But all 100% truthful. And most likely the types of things that most clothing brands (or companies in general) don't want to tell you.
Maybe this will help some folks that aspire to start their own business and maybe some people will just find the trials and tribulations of trying to start a company amusing. Either way, we hope you enjoy.
The Bumpy Pitch logo you see above is actually the second logo in our companies history. The first one was pretty awful, which made sense at the time because we had no idea what we were doing. Literally.
But this second iteration I actually really liked. We wanted something that felt vintage and clean. Something that looked like it could have been around for awhile. Something with clean lines and little distraction (this ethos is actually a pretty important part of how we design everything). The lines in the bp and the font of bumpy pitch took awhile to get right, but when this logo was finished, we thought we had something pretty cool.
We started using this in all of our messaging. This was around the latter part of 2009 I believe. All our linesheets and lookbooks that we sent to retailers. We made countless shirts with this logo (only the bp though - the shirts didn't include the bumpy pitch below it). The shirts sold well. People gave us really positive feedback. We even had people submitting photos showing them wearing this particular logo t-shirt in countless places around the world.
This was cool! This new logo seemed to be connecting and it felt good.
Then there was a major disaster. I remember flipping on CNN and there was video being looped of oil literally shooting out of a broken pipe at the bottom of the ocean. I had never seen anything like this. It was heartbreaking and nobody seemed to know how to fix the problem.
As I'm watching this unfold, I kept hearing them refer to this disaster as BP. This oil rig or pipe or whatever it was just so happened to be owned by BP. Our logo and identity at the time was all about our "bp."
This seemed like it could be a big problem for us.
Even though we were a very small brand, we didn't want there to be any confusion that somehow linked us with the BP oil company. We were a little company trying to make soccer even more beautiful, yet because of nothing other than a couple of letters, we could somehow, someway be seriously mistaken for something else. We were about as far removed from the oil spill or anything to do with it as you could imagine. But we knew this could be a problem.
At some point while the oil was still flooding out of that broken pipe, we got an email from someone who said they had been wearing their "bp" shirt when someone on the street angrily questioned them about how they could wear a shirt that says "bp" on it. That little voice inside us that said this could be an issue was proving to be true. The letters BP were tainted at that moment. Nobody wanted to be associated with those two previously innocent letters.
So we had to do something. We had to act. And we needed to act fast.
Bumpy Pitch Football Club
Even before the oil spill and the feeling that we needed to change things up and distance ourselves from two seemingly innocent letters, we had been discussing the idea of BPFC. When we were thinking about this, the obvious reference was to the "FC" that is associated with countless clubs around the world. It seemed like a natural fit.
Given that we had already been thinking about what BPFC meant to us and what it could mean on a broader scale, we were somewhat prepared to act when the oil spill and subsequent shaming of all things "BP" related started to happen.
We decided to keep with a vintage theme for the new crest, but to take it back even more vintage. The "bp" logo that we had designed above, had a 60's or 70's mod theme feel about it. For the new design, we knew we wanted to dig even deeper into the archives of soccer. We decided on a vintage soccer ball being the focal point of the new crest. It was beautiful and had great lines and had a storied history. That ball, for some, looks like a volleyball (that's another story for another day).
At the time, I was living on a street called Laurel Terrace. That was our "global" HQ at the time. A small nook in the house served as the operations center for all things Bumpy Pitch.
Given that we were based on a street called Laurel Terrace and that the laurel leaves are such a classic sporting icon, we decided to incorporate that with the vintage soccer ball. The rest kind of came together quickly. We went with a collegiate style font for the BPFC and the new, 3rd company logo, was in place.
When you go into business you know that things are going to go wrong. You know that you are going to make mistakes. You know that whatever planning you have done will need constant tinkering with and updating. But I'm not sure you ever think that there will be a massive environmental disaster that is the fault of another company that shares the same initials as your company. That's just not in the manual (side note - there is no manual).
But that is a big part of owning your own business. Figuring out the answers to things that you have no idea about. And in that regard, owning a business can be a lot like life. You have to figure out things along the way. We all try to make the best decisions possible with the available information. Sometimes we need to act quickly when we feel there is a need to, all while being cognizant of what those actions and decisions may mean in the long term.
For all of you thinking about starting a business, there are going to be adversities and events that you could never have prepared yourself for. Let's just hope it's nothing like this one.