ROKNE Pickleball: Where style, quality, and technology meet
DALLAS, TX - ROKNE Pickleball was front and center at the 2023 Pickleball Business Forum, which was held in conjunction with last month's USA Pickleball National Championships.
During one of the panels, I heard a little bit about this up-and-coming paddle company from co-founder, Elise Ivy, and I knew I had to learn more.
ROKNE Pickleball has enjoyed a rather exciting journey in terms of creating, developing, and marketing the Curve line of paddles that are often seen in players' hands today.
For Ivy, it all began in 2020 when she started playing pickleball because it was the perfect outdoor activity to be social and get some exercise, yet remain socially distant.
“I bought two paddles on Amazon and I watched some YouTube videos to figure out how to play," recalled Ivy. “I had indoor balls for outdoor play. Yes, I was that girl. But, I learned and it was so fun.”
Ivy hit the courts regularly and her gameplay got better.
Soon enough, it was time for an upgrade.
“I went home, got back on Amazon, and looked for better equipment that wasn’t horribly ugly. The paddle I had was like two plastic pieces of board and terrible balls," described Ivy. “I thought, 'I would never run a marathon in high heels, so there has to be equipment that’s better than this.'”
Her mission was simple - find a quality paddle that was eye-catching, too.
She quickly realized, however, that it wouldn't be easy.
“This was before the big boom in pickleball. I noticed a trend. The paddles out there either had a nice aesthetic to them with zero technology, or had great technology, but they were so ugly with lasers and things blowing up on the paddle. I thought this was brutal,” remarked Ivy.
That's when Ivy came up with the idea to create a brand of technologically advanced paddles that were aesthetically pleasing as well.
“My brother and I always wanted to go into business together. He married into a big racket sports family, so I called him and said, ‘We might have found our business,'” explained Ivy. “My brother made a spreadsheet of every paddle, every dimension possible, and we found this great little whitespace to slot in at a lower price than other people. That’s how it all started.”
Before ROKNE, Ivy made a name for herself as a host on QVC where she had her own beauty show and launched 65 beauty brands.
“I had all this knowledge on how to build a product, sell it, and how to market it, so I took that knowledge and applied it to how to launch a pickleball paddle,” shared Ivy.
There are people who caution about going into business with family, but Ivy and her brother seem to be a textbook example of a success story.
“We have always been polar opposites. We’re so different, but at the same time we had this really strong respect for what the other person could do because it was a weakness in ourselves. We have opposite, but complementary skill sets. We kind of lucked out that we’re so different,” remarked Ivy.
Trying to figure out a name for their business, though, proved to be tricky.
“My top priority was getting social media handles and a website name available,” said Ivy. “At this point, everything has been taken, so we were going to have to make up our own word for the brand name.”
They wanted to use “rock” in the title. After playing around with the word, they eventually agreed upon ROKNE. It was the perfect combination of sporty and cool... and all the social media handles were available.
ROKNE has an assortment of different paddles to choose from depending on the player’s experience.
If there’s one paddle Ivy recommended, however, it would be the Curve Classic.
“It’s such a step up from the cheapo Amazon paddles, but you’re not breaking the bank with it,” noted Ivy.
The paddle comes in seven different colors, including a beautiful palm leaf design from a partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue.
“We were the first pickleball band on their website, and it turns out the head buyer played pickleball, so she had all this foresight in where this sport would go,” said Ivy. “It’s really important to us to have an aesthetic that people feel proud of on the court. I used to have this joke that when I started playing, I was so bad, I had to at least look good on the court.”
However, a good aesthetic isn’t limited to only the women pickleball players.
“We’ve found that aesthetic matters to guys just as much as it matters to girls. It isn't one-sided. The guys love having their own cool colors, too,” mentioned Ivy.
The sky's the limit for ROKNE, and with the recent launch of their Made in the USA paddles, this company is quickly establishing a brand story that players be proud of.
Ivy summed up their entire business journey in one simple remark: “We started unconventionally, but we decided early on we’re making aesthetic and technology equal parts in our company. That’s what we’ve done.”
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