We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Chris 'Keener' Dougherty and Jason Olson from Keener Jerseys to discuss the origin of their company the world of jersey customization in an interesting interview with two good hockey guys. The interview was transcribed below.
CARHA Hockey - What’s the background of Keener Jerseys, how did the company come to be?
Keener started customizing jerseys 25 years ago and he’s been customizing jerseys ever since. It started with his mom getting him some fabric from a store so he could do his own jersey customizations. Eventually, as he got better and better at customization, people contacted him to have their own jerseys customized by Keener. And as time went on, Keener began to make a real name for himself within the jersey collector’s community and many collectors will only send their jerseys to him. They consider him to be the absolute best customizer.
Keener and I began to realize that there is a market out there for teams that weren’t getting the service and quality they were seeking in the jersey market. It was apparent that we could bring an artistry to jerseys that teams would appreciate. We knew if we could make the process of getting jerseys really simple, that we’d be able to make our mark in the jersey landscape across Canada and North America.
CARHA Hockey - How did the two of you end up in business together, had you known each other for a long time?
We met each other in our early 20’s and we started hanging out all the time, watching hockey games and stuff like that. Before we started the business, there was about 15 years of just hanging out and I noticed that more and more jerseys were coming through his apartment. People were sending Keener jerseys to get them customized and I thought that people would be really interested in the work that he does and the knowledge that he has for the business. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and it dawned on me that with my business experience and Keener’s jersey expertise, we could create a real niche in the market. We’ve grown a lot in the last three years. It started off with just the two of us, and we now have a staff of about 10 people. We’ve moved to a bigger location with a storefront on a busy Winnipeg street. Things have been moving very fast. It’s been very busy and very exciting!
CARHA Hockey - Does Keener Jerseys specialize just in hockey or do you service other sports as well?
We focus mostly on hockey because we love the game so much. However, customization is similar across all sports, so we have teams coming to us from different areas that we’re able to work with to create some really unique jerseys. We’ve done basketball, soccer, ultimate frisbee to name a few. We recently did jerseys for a tobogganing team! The advantage of our business is that we have so many different fonts and tools that can help us to make really unique and special jerseys for basically any sport or team.
CARHA Hockey - Being in the business for a while now, I’m sure you’ve seen thousands of jerseys. Do you have a favourite jersey ever?
Keener’s favourite jersey is the 80's Oilers Nike jerseys. The numbers, names, and crests were beautifully hand stitched and it almost looks embroidered. Bright colours and worn by the greatest player ever.
Jason finds that some of the best jerseys are the ones where Keener Jerseys has worked with teams to create something special, taking existing pieces of different jerseys and making a vision into a reality. Creating something that has never been done before is always extremely exciting.
CARHA Hockey - What are your thoughts on the NHL potentially losing the alternate jersey next year with the Adidas partnership coming into place?
When Reebok took over in 2005, they had some problems with their new edge design so now there are two types of Reebok edge jerseys, Edge 1.0 that uses a stretchy fabric that didn't stand up well to the rigours of the NHL play. Edge 2.0 went back to the trusty CCM airknit. We just hope Adidas gets it right the first time.
CARHA Hockey - Why should customers choose Keener Jerseys?
For us, it comes down to the quality and craftsmanship we’re bringing to the table. We care a great deal about the end product and an excellent customer experience. From start to finish, we put a lot of effort into making sure every customer walks away saying “Wow that was a great experience”.
For a special discount code for CARHA Hockey members, check out the Keener Jerseys website.