Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in sports and athletics but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Carly Llewellyn, Co-Founder of Tangerine Paddle, located in Washington, DC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is Tangerine Paddle. Tangerine is a lifestyle brand that makes colorful and fun pickleball bags and paddles. Our customers are new and intermediate pickleball players who are looking to be more active, spend time with family and friends, learn a new hobby, and look good while doing it!
Tell us about yourself
During COVID, my husband and I started playing a lot of racquet sports. In the winter, we would play paddle tennis, and in the warmer months, we played tennis and pickleball. It was a great way to be active and see friends when we were still living in a restricted world. As we played more and more, we realized that there weren’t a ton of great products on the market for pickleball and paddle. All of the bags were black and utilitarian. So in 2022, we made our first product - the pickleball tote bag. Later in 2022, we came out with a line of fun pickleball paddles and are continuing to add new designs.
What motivates us is creating a brand that is something we are proud of and something that we, as consumers, would want to own. When I’m playing pickleball or paddle, I want to look and feel my best. I love being able to carry my tote and paddles onto the court and having people stop me to ask where I got them.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My husband and I have two young children, ages 6 and 8, who are always helping out or coming up with new ideas for the business. Last week, our eight-year-old asked if he could start his own business or help run Tangerine when he’s older. Being able to instill the values of hard work, creativity, and dedication in our children is the biggest accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
My husband and I co-founded Tangerine and ran the business together. One of the hardest things is having to draw a line between work and other things. It is very easy for us to continue to brainstorm new ideas or talk about projects that we need to tackle. Being a business owner means being always on. We have to be conscious of shutting off work from time to time and focus on other things in our lives that matter.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Your business doesn’t need to be focused on your biggest passion, but it should be something that excites and motivates you. In the past, I’ve worked in many different industries, from energy policy to climate change to retail, and it is way easier and more fun to get up and do work every day if you care about what you are doing.
- Really get to know your customer. The world of pickleball is huge, but we aren’t focused on professional athletes. Our goal is to excite and delight the people that want to be active, want to see their friends, want to get outside, and want to have fun while doing it. I always think about my friends or my peers when I’m coming up with a new design or product idea.
- Look for pain points in your daily life. Not every business idea has to solve a global problem. Identify something that you don’t like, or you are struggling with, and figure out a better way to do it!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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