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Lifestyle

Lax gets a fashion fix

To Jennifer Vick, being on the sidelines doesn't mean you are out of the game — the fashion game.

Vick, a Glen Arm resident, spent years watching her sons, Porter, 13, and Mason, 15, play lacrosse. While at the games, she noticed more and more girls playing the sport. But they often showed up to practice and games wearing "boys' stuff."

"The fit was not good, and the clothes were not relevant," she said.

Vick also saw a lack of lacrosse-style clothing geared toward sisters and mothers watching the games. So, despite zero experience in retail and design, she founded Lax So Hard, a new clothing line that aims to give girls, boys and even their parents fashionable and functional lacrosse clothing that fits.

Named after her family's game-day rally cry, Lax So Hard includes everything from colorful tanks and T-shirts to patterned shorts and mid-calf socks. T-shirt prices range from $25 to $30, while shorts cost $35 to $40.

Vick, 46, graduated from the University of Baltimore with a business management degree and has worked in sales for more than 20 years. In January 2013, she started her own surgical sales distributorship, selling surgical implants and tools to operating rooms across the state.

"I've always had an interest in being my own boss, running my own show," she said. "I like the flexibility of making my own decisions."

Throughout her life, the entrepreneur said, she has always looked for new ways to meet needs through business.

Still, surgical sales and retail design are different ball games.

To start Lax So Hard, Vick applied for a trademark in 2012. She then got help from longtime family friend Whitney Campassi, a faculty member in the Art Institute of Colorado's fashion department. In February 2013, Campassi gave Vick a "crash course" in fashion design.

For four days in Denver, Vick learned the importance of inseams and outseams and measuring with elastic, as well as fashion terminology and what to look for when buying fabric.

"She's an excellent learner," Campassi said. "By the end of the process, she was labeling patterns and helping me with the markings."

Vick created her first design — a pink, purple, blue and green flower made out of women's lacrosse stick heads — on her way back to Maryland.

After finding a local pattern maker, testing design ideas with family and friends and making several trips to New York for fabric shows, Vick was ready to move forward with production. And by July 2013, she had her first pair of Lax So Hard shorts in hand.

Vick uses blended fabrics for her line. The shorts are made from a moisture-wicking, antimicrobial fabric, made of 88 percent polyester and 12 percent spandex. The shirts are a lighter blend, made from a mix of polyester, cotton and rayon jersey.

All items are made in the United States — fabrics are sourced from North Carolina and items made in Florida — except for the shirts, which are made in China and Bangladesh. Vick said she hopes to soon produce everything domestically.

"My goal was to be U.S.A.-made," she said. "Lacrosse is a U.S. sport."

Vick began selling her line at youth lacrosse tournaments across the Mid-Atlantic. At her first one in New York, she sold more than 50 of the flower-design girls shorts within two days.

Each time she added a new design, it sold, she said. So in 2014, she expanded her presence online. Wee Chic in Lutherville and Vernon Powell Shoes in Salisbury also began carrying the line.

The girls' clothing "took off" more quickly than the boys, "simply because there wasn't any other option," Vick said.

But as word spread, the boys began catch up.

"Both of them are equally selling well at this point," Vick said.

At Wee Chic, owner Bridget Stickline said she sold all 10 of the boys' Maryland-flag-print shorts within three days of their arrival.

"The boys really keyed into it," Stickline said. "They were dragging their mothers in kicking and screaming to buy lacrosse shorts."

Boys like Connor Wyskiel of Ruxton, who bought the Maryland-flag shorts after seeing them posted on Wee Chic's Instagram account. He said he wears the shorts at lacrosse practice and around the house.

"It's cool," he said. "The materials are great. It's soft and stretchy, too."

Jim Metzbower, girls lacrosse commissioner for the Carroll Manor Recreation Council, said he is familiar with Lax So Hard and that the company launched at just the right time.

"When I played in high school, we got a T-shirt," he said. But today's middle and high school students want more "funky and fashionable" clothes, the father of two teenage girls said.

"They want something that's athletic and attractive at the same time," Metzbower said. "Kids and parents want it to be multipurpose so it can be used for lacrosse and other things."

While Vick would not provide exact sales figures, she said Lax So Hard sales as of July 2014 are more than double than all of 2013.

Next year, Vick said, she hopes to expand her line and make it relevant to all sports. But she said she will always honor the company's lacrosse roots.

"Lacrosse will always be first," she said. "The players are loyal. The families are loyal. They always want to represent their sport."


Lax So Hard

Lax So Hard is sold at Wee Chic in Green Spring Station, at Vernon Powell Shoes or online at laxsohard.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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