Delray Beach entrepreneurs launch pickleball lifestyle brand

A Thursday night rainout on the tennis courts has led to a business venture for two Delray Beach women.

Carly Bellis and Courtney Campbell were expecting to meet for their usual Thursday night tennis match last year at the Delray Beach Tennis Center when rain soaked the courts.

“Courtney and I and our husbands were going to play tennis and it had rained and the courts were wet,” Bellis said. “So, the pros at the Delray Tennis Center suggested we try the pickleball courts because those courts were dry and we said, ‘Sure why not?’

“We rented some pickleball paddles from them and headed over and had a ball,” she said. “We kept playing and we went to buy our own gear and noticed that there was nothing out there that excited us or spoke to us. It is the fastest-growing sport right now and a lot of younger and younger people are playing it, so we thought it was a great opportunity to introduce a brand that was a lot more fun.”

According to the Sport and Fitness Industry Association, pickleball participation grew by 21.3% from 2019 to 2020 alone. And while the pandemic gave a bump to the growth, pickleball has been trending up in popularity for the last five years.

Leading the way is the growth of pickleball among younger age demographics. In fact, according to the 2020 Pickleball Participation Report, the average age of the 3.46 million pickleball players in the U.S is 43.5, with 49% of all players falling into the 18 to 54 age range.

Bellis and Campbell launched Swinton (named after the road that goes through the heart of Delray Beach) in February and the website went live just weeks ago.

“This has all been kind of a mad dash in putting this company together,” Bellis said. “We are very new to the market and we want to grow this, not only locally, but eventually nationally. We want to keep adding more products to it and eventually become a pickleball brand that people recognize and gravitate to.

“When we were coming up with names, we thought it would be fun to do something with Delray where the brand was born and where we both live,” she said. “We both live off Swinton.”

Bellis said they created the brand to update pickleball gear and fashion for young and young-at-heart players who want to feel good and have fun while playing the fastest growing sport in the United States.

Swinton pickleball is designed to appeal directly to the pickleball player looking to have fun while playing the game, and not taking himself or herself too seriously in the process.

Bellis and Campbell quickly realized that pickleball products — the paddles, balls and gear available for purchase didn’t match their trendy, laidback and fun vibe. Instead, the products seemed unchanged since the sport’s birth in 1965, and they were truly in need of an update.

“It became one of those situations where you want something, you look for it, and when you can’t find it, you make it,” Campbell said. “That’s pretty much how it happened for us. Carly and I wanted to create a brand that was as fun as the game itself — and that’s how Swinton came to be.”

Bellis, a former lawyer and entrepreneur with numerous digital and e-commerce businesses on her plate, and Campbell, the owner and creative director of Delray Beach-based branding agency Campbell Creative, were the perfect team when it came to creating the brand.

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“It took us a while to find products that we were happy about,” Bellis said. “We wanted products that were good quality and looked good. We looked to immediately get some samples made to see what worked and what we liked and we went live in the past week or so.”

“We are looking to disrupt the industry,” Campbell said. “Swinton is for those, just like us, who love getting out there on the court, playing with friends or strangers, and then celebrating after with a beer or glass of wine.”

Since they first started playing pickleball, the couples switched their Thursday night mixed doubles games from tennis to pickleball and haven’t gone back.

“I grew up playing tennis and I do still love it, but pickleball is unique in that it is just a ton of fun to play,” Bellis said, “especially round-robin style with a group of friends.”

Swinton has launched products, including athletic gear and apparel, paddles, gear bags, and more.

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