Meet Catherine Baxter.
Founder & CEO of Nettie Pickleball Co.
"...Cincinnati is a small city with incredible people. This means the networks and connections are tight-knit, and people go out of their way to help you."
Nettie is a pickleball brand bringing well-designed, affordable, and retro-inspired gear and apparel to the casual pickleball player.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give an entrepreneur in Cincinnati?
A: One piece of advice would be to “sell” your business wherever you are. Whether it's a software vendor, a wholesale account, a neighbor, or your accountant – there is so much value in telling the bigger vision and story of your business all the time. I’ve secured unique collaborations, deals, and unexpected connections by committing to sharing the full story of Nettie (intergenerational connection, technology-free play, good design) rather than just talking about selling pickleball paddles. People are much more likely to become invested in you and your company if you show them what you see happening in the future.
Q: How did a grant from Main Street Ventures impact you and your business?
A: I am a solo entrepreneur and have side-hustled thus far – working on Nettie on nights and weekends. A grant from Main Street Ventures will allow me to bring in partners to collaborate with and really grow. Having capital to bring on creatives, marketers, fulfillment partners, and more will allow me to spend more of my time focused on growth, sustainability, and vision and less time in the weeds.
Q: What does a typical day in your life look like?
A: Since I started, every day looks like a different mix of full-time job and Nettie. On a day where I am just working on Nettie… it looks like waking up and fulfilling and packing up orders. Then I'll spend a few hours on creative and content generation (I can’t live without Canva!). Then I may meet with my digital marketer to talk through the strategy of ads for the next week, followed by doing some thinking about pricing for the next set of products. If it is nice I’ll go on a walk around Pendleton and get a coffee from Urbana Cafe!
Q: What is a lesson you've learned that has shaped your work?
A: One lesson that I have learned is from my former boss and mentor Katie Orenstein who says, “the story we tell, becomes the world we live in.” There are lots of ways this lesson can be applied to my work at Nettie, but one interpretation is that there is serious power in storytelling when creating a brand that extends beyond a product, but gives people something to pay attention to and means something more than what is being sold. The second way it applies is that founding a business means you will have to share the vision and story of what the company/brand/organization can be before it is ever there. And that sometimes the nature of just speaking something out loud, helps breathe it into existence.
Q: What's next for Nettie?
A: Right now, I’m planning for the spring season where people will start playing pickleball outside again as the weather warms up. My products are super gift-able, and I’m anticipating a big push around Mother’s Day. On the operations front, we’ll soon have a new website, apparel, and new paddles. Stay tuned!