Hip Grips was started by Caryl Parker, a former IBM sales person who was an avid tennis player. She saw an opportunity to design better looking overgrips for tennis racquets. The overgrips that were currently on the market were bland and generic, so Caryl thought that she could create more lively looking overgrips that could appeal to both male and female tennis players. The result is Hip Grips, modern designed Hawaiian style overgrips that are colorful and unique.
Taking a look at the grips online, I can see that they definitely are not for everyone. The Hawaiian prints are fairly “loud” and seem to mainly be targeted at female players, though there are some that men may like if they want to stand out. The grips are very unique and they do make a fashion “statement.” I can see where they would do well in certain niche markets, such as the weekend female tennis player, or the casual tennis enthusiasts who is looking for something unique to spice up their racquet. I don’t think it would appeal to the professional Tennis player, although I could be wrong. Perhaps a professional female may think that they are cool and endorse the product, which could launch major revenue for Hip Grips. The unique and individual character of the product is the best part of the product, and if it catches on with the right people unique products such as these could start a trend.
It is interesting to learn about the obstacles that Ms. Parker had to face when she started Hip Grips. It was a small family operation that had her husband and kids putting the grips into the tubes to be sold. However, she still had to deal with “disgruntled” employees because her family was getting sick of doing the work. What started out as fun, became truly work. This shows that even though you don’t have a traditional work setting in an office or factory, and you “hire” family, doesn’t mean you don’t run into the same problems you would at a traditional workplace. Running your own business is hard work, anyway you look at it.
Another reality that “hit home,” so to speak, was when Caryl realized that she would have to find and research all the prospective customers herself. There was no list provided, as there would be at IBM or other major companies. The business needs to be grown from the ground up, and there would be many new trails to blaze. In addition to the actual sales work, Ms. Parker also had to deal with the finance and logistical side of her business. This is quite different from working for a big company, where your job is sales and that’s all you have to worry about. All aspects of the business fell on to Ms. Parkers’ shoulders. She would either need to do it all herself or have a partner to help with it, which luckily she found with Ms. Guidicelli, who enjoyed the financial side of the business. There were also small details, yet very important details that Ms. Parker overlooked when launching the business, such as her cell phone plan. She did not get a proper plan for the business and racked up $900 worth of charges in the first month! A good thing to learn about this is that she did have to learn from her mistakes; luckily the mistakes didn’t kill the business. As the old adage states, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. This can also be applied to business.
The decision to license the product out to Wilson I think was a god one. They didn’t have to deal with the day-to-day manufacturing hassles and distribution. The much larger company would most likely be better apt to take care of these issues. Ms. Parker and Ms. Guidicelli would collect the license fees for the designs. This way they can focus on the part of the business they like the most. The only downsides would actually be the upsides, a paradox so to speak. They would not have control of manufacturing and distribution so they would have any say in how their product was being produced and where it was being distributed. This can be good or bad for the Parker and Guidicelli. Wilson would be in a better position to distribute and manufacture the products, but how they do it is also completely up to Wilson, Parker and Gudicelli would have no say in that part of the business. They could not oversee the quality of production nor change distribution if something wasn’t working. Basically, their business creativity in those aspects would be sold out to Wilson.