Sight of the pink flash is becoming a staple on the British basketball scene and for good reason, its owner, Elliott Wade, has made it his mission to use the business to spread basketball culture throughout the UK.
Based in Manchester, H’N’L sources basketball jerseys – from the common to the rare – for the UK market but the brand is also known for sponsoring basketball activations at charity fundraising events and at BBL and WBBL gamedays.
Recently, Wade signed a two-year sponsorship deal with BBL outfit Bristol Flyers, and now has his dynamic logo featured on the back of the Flyers’ official playing shorts.
Delighted to have an ‘active part in the growth of the sport’ he loves, the 36-year-old ensures that altruism runs through the core of his business and last Christmas he ran a ‘kids jersey giveaway’ through his social media channels, giving a jersey free of charge to every child – 90 in total – that designed him a Christmas card.
“The whole point of my business is to make basketball jerseys more affordable for everyone without them having to buy fakes.
"From the Christmas card giveaway, I received loads of videos and pictures of the kids in their jerseys, and these were children who had never touched a basketball before, nor watched a game, and now they were taking an interest.
"I then thought ‘let's do this in clubs, let’s go around to clubs in the BBL and WBBL and start giving away jerseys at games as halftime prizes’.
“And then, as my name started getting bigger and more and more people were seeing me around the British basketball [scene], I communicated with a lot of players, ex-players who run camps in inner cities, PE teachers and community leaders and I just sent out jerseys to as many kids as I could.
"The whole point of what we're trying to do with basketball in this country is getting as many people into the game as possible, especially young kids that are going to love it for life.
“When you are asking parents to come along to games, they have already spent £50-60 pounds on their tickets and food; to then ask them to pay £60-80, which is the retail price on some of those kids’ jerseys, is just not possible, especially as they’re going to grow out of it within a year.
"So yeah, I go around and try and give as many as I can. Now we're up to up to 223 and I’m just a one-man business, so every [jersey] I get is out of my own pocket.
"I don’t make any money on this venture but that’s what I want to do to spread the game.”
In the midst of the cost-of-living crisis and fast approaching Christmas 2022, Wade has started a H’N’L ‘Pay it Back’ community scheme, whereby kids who have outgrown their jerseys can return them and it’ll be passed onto another to enjoy.
Meanwhile, the donator gets a £5 gift card for the H’N’L online store for every jersey they send in – as Wade writes on his website it’s ‘sustainable, strengthens the community and you get rewarded too’.
Wade, who is originally from Guilford, Surrey, has always had an affinity for basketball, especially the fashion, which regularly influences trends in the industry, but his passion for the British basketball community came from it picking him up and embracing him in his darkest hours.
In 2017, he moved to Spain to seek rehabilitation for his mental health after reaching the very low depths of depression, “I didn't really have any belonging or sense of want in the world and I started this business whilst I was out there, and I've basically been embraced by a whole community.
“When I moved back in 2020, I didn't really know anyone, but the British basketball community has given me a belonging and a platform to basically share what I've been through.
"[The business] is a way for me to give back to a community that gave me a sense of purpose and I think that's why the business and the brand has become so successful because there's a personal aspect to it that people are investing in, not only to just buy jerseys, but they're investing in a person who gives back to British basketball. And I think that’s the right approach as a business, not just being money orientated but being involved in the community and making it a life with a job.”
From here, Wade is looking to sponsor more basketball events, raise money for the game, do more talks in schools around mental well-being and starting a business and has one eye on potentially funding a court regeneration project. Watch this space.
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