Introducing GracelyneTim Strawn
Recently IART connected with a new company, Gracelyne, and what follows is a brief history of the company. We also received two of their tennis racquets for review that will be posted very soon and we’ve reviewed two strings from the company. Data on the strings can be found in the string characteristic DB.
Where we came from
Gracelyne was founded in 2018, and our mission is to work directly with the pros and coaches that teach and grow the game with a high quality, streamlined range of racquets and equipment. We began our journey focused on Squash, which led us to develop our two frame models; our Blue Teardrop shaped racquet, and our Gray Oval shaped racquet. We tested and gathered data on dozens of existing squash frames that had been circulating for the past decade from different manufacturers and brands, testing them all over many months. As we compiled the information, certain trends became evident and observable across the frames that had been among the most popular and played with in the Squash industry. We arrived at a weight and balance in both our blue and gray frames that we felt were an ideal set up that would be well received among players, coaches and professionals alike.
Early on we made the decision to grow our company slowly with the aim of keeping our operations lean, passing along competitive costs for our products to our clients and providing service details like exact weights and balances of each frame in a boutique fashion. Our first batches of Squash frames were well received by players, although with a minor setback of a grommet durability issue in our Blue frame, these racquets both stood up to the test of durability and performance over time. Our intention is to maintain these two frames and their specs in our product line, so that pros are confident in the product they are selling, and the players are confident that the product is high quality and will make for an easy racquet to adopt and play with for many years.
This led to a similar process for developing a line of Tennis frames, however, our initial strategy for entering the Tennis market was slightly flawed. Since the Tennis market is much larger and more competitive than Squash, where our aim was to cater to the high performance player at the top end of the product market, our decision to enter the Tennis market with a mid-range, affordable frame with our Original Tennis frame needed to be re-addressed. Our conclusion was that in order to keep within our mission we should focus on the top end of the Tennis frame market as well, and instead bring only two or three premium products that pros would really enjoy using, and could market to performance oriented players.
We set off to test many manufacturer options that echoed the same quality attributes we sought in the development of our Blue Squash frame; a performance frame that would feel great to play with for top players, without sacrificing power and durability. We were excited to create a much lighter, and slightly more head heavy frame than most of the products available. The Pro304 offers players and pros an option to transition from the heavy top end frames currently available from most brands, to something more nimble, and maneuverable that still provides a very solid feel when striking the ball at pace. An additional benefit to this frame is that due to its weight and slightly head-heavy balance, aspiring young players can use this full size frame at an earlier stage becoming comfortable and building confidence in their stroke mechanics without having to transition from a cut back frame.
Our polyester Tennis strings (Incognito and Amazing Grace) are both made in the USA, and we are currently working to develop Squash strings for both singles softball and doubles hardball that we feel can compete with the industry’s best that are also made in the USA. Gracelyne has a distribution partner in Dubai, and is working on entering other international markets like Egypt, Australia, and Europe. Through our founder’s networks we are building our brand in the United States and Canada and looking for pros and independent pro shops to partner with. Gracelyne has recently sponsored Canadian Squash Junior Mohamed Kamal who is top ranked in his Provincial divisions and was named to the Canadian development Squad. Mohamed is in a strong position to represent Canada’s junior team at various upcoming international competitions and we are excited that such a promising young talent is so enthusiastic about our racquets. We hope that the Gracelyne Blue Squash frame will help lead him to success on the international stage, and to a Canadian National junior title later this year; an accomplishment he would share with one of our founders, Keith Pritchard, who won multiple times in his Junior Career!
Where we are going
Gracelyne is working to bring our third Tennis frame to market, along with a club racquet backpack. Our new frame line will be called the Gracelyne Montani series, which will encompass our Oval Squash frame, and a traditional Tennis frame that is well balanced and a comfortable weight for pros and players who are not seeking a lightweight option. With our company’s roots in West Virginia, and one of our founders from Calgary AB, we felt the mountain theme an appropriate choice for us to promote the pursuit of Peak Performance in racquet sports with our Montani series.
Our goal is to deliver excellent products, great service and pay specific attention to the details that are most important to the pros and coaches who are out there interacting and building these two incredible racquet sports every day. As we build Gracelyne we want to be able to pass along the cost savings and benefits that come from our streamlined model, so that there is not only a confidence and real enjoyment of our products by those who use them, but also a healthy profit margin that can be retained through the sale of our products by the pros and coaches who have often seen this revenue stream slowly eroded or undercut by online retailers and big box stores. Gracelyne is a lot like a craft brewery; we know that we are not going to compete with the major brands at scale, but we are certain that we can add value to the industry with really fine tuned products that pros and top players will really appreciate, just like a really great small batch beer! Gracelyne hopes to develop lasting relationships with the pros and independent pro shops who play such an integral role within racquet sports by providing a service-oriented, boutique feel, and building something special together in the years to come.