BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A local startup is giving hockey players an assist in customizing their gear.
SkateSkins™ is a new endeavor by the team behind Buffalo’s Just Dishin’. They create customizable accessories for hockey skates that are easy to install, remove, and re-install.
The idea for SkateSkins™ was in the works for a while, but during COVID-19 quarantine was when the product came together, Just Dishin’ owner Matthew Keeler said.
“I was locked in my room for a year, in there with the material and this drive to try and create a product that’s formfitting, that would fit on all makes and models of skates, that would give all hockey players the ability to customize the skates,” Keeler said.
While basketball and football athletes often get creative with customized footwear for games, hockey is usually more traditional.
“Not a lot of people try to step outside the box and be different in that regard,” Keeler, who has been playing hockey since age 4, said. “What we’re doing is something that’s kind of never been done before – sometimes you can be looked down on if you’re different in hockey, and we try to give people the confidence and creative expression to step out of their comfort zones.”
The accessories come in four different sizes – youth, junior, adult, and extended size.
“Kids can wear them, adults, professional players – we want to push the creative boundaries for hockey players and let themselves express themselves in a creative way,” said Nick Ciavarella, Chief of Operations Officer of Just Dishin, said.
Their out-of-the-box ideas are getting plenty of attention: a Nike Air Jordan 1 skate design they created went viral on social media and was spotlighted in hockey and streetwear blogs.
They teamed up with custom cleat artist Kota Kustoms out of Lockport to bring the design to life.
“We had this idea for a while – basically making these sneaker/skate concepts – it was like, ‘we have to bring these to life’,” Keeler recalled.
SkateSkins™ offers customers the option to upload their own designs to the website – either for whole teams, or individual designs.
They have about 21 designs, four colors and four flag designs.
Just Dishin’ started out in 2011 as a Twitter account, Ciavarella said. They grew into a clothing brand and then into their current form: creating apparel, content, website design, and other creative services.
They help athletes manage their personal brands, helping out some well-known clients like the Bills’ Dion Dawkins and the Sabres’ Rasmus Dahlin.
The team, which has about ten people, has grown from working out of a studio apartment to having space on the 29th floor of Seneca One.
“We feel blessed,” Ciavarella said. “We feel like we have a lot more work to do, and we’re going to continue to push forward the game of hockey.”
Kelly Khatib is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.
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