I think the question I field most often is something along the lines of – “How did you get Oak + Oar into the hand of players on the Winnipeg Jets?
To be honest it was a strange series of events, which I chalk up to some good friends looking out mixed with some good luck. A few winters ago, when we dropped “The Return to Glory” collection, we hosted a pop-up shop Wildwood Park Community Centre.
I secured some ice and hosted a game of shinny for the day. The day itself was honestly one of the coldest days of winter, yet a few committed people showed up. The game turned out to be a really good time – but there is no way the event made any money.
By the end of the day I had sold a few hundred dollars of product which I think was enough to cover the cost of renting the ice. One of those sales ended up in the drawer of my good friend Dru. A few weeks passed when I received a text from Dru asking if it was all right to pass on my info to Mark Stuart. No sooner had that text come in than a text from Mark asking if it would be possible to purchase some gear. I guess Dru had been wearing the pocket tee he had purchased from the event while cutting Mark’s hair. Mark continued to support Oak + Oar to the point where I am sure he is a bit sick of seeing Oak + Oar in his closet.
I approached Stu about doing a collaboration shortly after. I had heard rumours that Mark was on point with his leatherwork abilities and had immediately thought of working on a belt with former Winnipegger Ken Diamond and photo tee with the help of Joseph Visser. And for the record, Stu has some serious leather crafting skill.
From there we planned a small release party where Mark ended up extending the invitation to just about everyone on the team. Not only was it rewarding to have Stu down to attend the event but when he is stoked enough to extend the invitation to teammates you know he believes in what you are doing.
The whole thing has been a humbling experience and a reminder that everything is a stepping-stone. It never gets old seeing Oak + Oar pop-up on these guys. I have been very fortunate to get the continued support of many of the guys and without a doubt attribute brand growth to Mark and his efforts to go out of his way to support local brands. Not sure I would be pursuing this full time without the likes of all of them embracing the brand.
You can catch our invterview we did with Stu here. It definitely isn’t the best quality but it is pretty entertaining.