The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on familial gatherings and outdoor physical activities. Amidst all this, a half-century-old game made an unexpected surge in popularity – Pickleball was back! The game wasn’t the people’s choice for a very long time, but after the pandemic hit the world, it piqued the interest of millions of new players. It would not be long before the sport had literally doubled in participation and it still shows no sign of slowing. To add more personality and fun to this game, John and Karen Whitaker, self-avowed “Pandemic Picklers,” started an apparel brand, dink.pro, solely dedicated to serving the players of this game.
The Whitakers dink.pro line offers hoodies, t-shirts, tanks, hats, pullovers, and jackets, each with a purposeful nod to the “language” specific to pickleball. From the start, their goal was to make quality clothing identifiable to this sport. Karen explains it this way; “As we became more involved in the sport it became obvious there was a need for high-quality apparel that could also be immediately recognizable as pickleball wear.”
The Whitaker brand, dink.pro, also strives to promote the positive impact this game has on the community. The tagline, “Live, Love, Play,” is one example – “I used to play golf quite a bit, but it was a 5-hour commitment away from the family” added John, “pickleball is literally a sport our entire family loves and plays together. It’s actually made us closer.” You can see this spirit on pickleball courts everywhere – husbands and wives, parents and kids (and grandchildren!), everybody can compete.
Whitakers’ dink.pro is driven by passion; while Karen took the helm as the CEO, John continues his part in financing and designing; the brand went live in November 2022, and continues to expand its sales model to include leagues, clubs, and tournament offerings. They proudly call themselves the “Pandemic Picklers,” committed to making picklers look different and recognizable while creating clothing that makes them look stylish and confident.
While the company is still in its infancy stage, Karen confirms “we are in this for the long term, pickleball is a passion, not a fad!”expanding the brand. One design that captures this spirit is “ONE MORE GAME,” a vibe of dedication that most pickleball players are familiar with.