Pickleball is in a weird spot. On one hand, it’s become an immensely popular sport, attracting an ever-growing and ever-diversifying player base across the country. On the other, it’s still a fairly niche activity, treated as an amusing little curio by the powers that be; there’s not exactly a pickleball analogue for Jordan Brand or Yeezy. Suddenly, there’s a huge demand for pickleball stuff, but not much grassroots effort to provide the corresponding supply. This is where Nettie, an upstart pickleball paddle and equipment company, comes into play.
Founded in 2021 by Catherine Baxter, a former director of development at Planned Parenthood, Nettie aims to satisfy the needs of the everyday pickleball player because it was created in response to the needs of everyday pickleball players: this is a fun game, so it should have the equipment to match. Whereas other pickleball gear is purely performance-focused or adopts a neon-y, Monster Energy Drink-like aesthetic, Nettie traffics in bright primary colors; each paddle is a sunburst of color, like a Josef Albers print put on shuffle.
During the spring of 2020, Baxter became interested in pickleball when her soon-to-be in-laws began playing pickleball in the living room of their New York City apartment. In 2021, Baxter moved to Cincinnati and saw the true extent of pickleball’s reach; although pickleball is most commonly associated with sun belt retirement communities, Cincinnati is home to a vibrant pickleball scene with breweries hosting pickleball events for the public. And so, Nettie, the first pickleball lifestyle brand, was born.
Last week, ONE37pm sat down with Baxter to talk about her unlikely journey to become a pickleball entrepreneur.