Like many life-changing creations, Utility Athletics was born after a breakup.
“It was a bit of a tumultuous time in my life,” said Max Ritz, co-founder, CEO and president of Utility Athletics.
“I was going through a few things that I was not really able to dig myself out of. I just couldn’t find the inspiration or the jump or the drive to do anything.”
In those moments of desperation, Ritz motivated himself to pursue one of his dreams.
“I started drawing some sketches, started playing around with Adobe Illustrator, with no formal training whatsoever.”
A few hours later, Ritz says he came up with Utility’s Athletic’s signature logo, which looks like the letter ‘U.’
Utility Athletics, founded in Regina in 2015, designs and sells apparel catering to the sport and lifestyle demographic, including shirts, hoodies, tank tops and hats. However, the brand wants to motivate everyone through their products and message, regardless of athletic ability or lifestyle preference.
“When you wear it you feel proud, you feel confident, you feel strong. No matter what size, shape, colour, race, wherever you come from, if you’re wearing our stuff you’re part of what we believe in.”
One of the company’s beliefs, according to Ritz, is the importance of personal growth and development.
Ritz says a big part of Utility Athletics is their message, which is emphasized and printed on almost all of their products: It Starts With U (ISWU)
“That’s what I think differentiates us a little bit, is just how deep our message can truly go when people look beyond just the logo of our apparel,” said Ritz.
Ritz created Utility Athletics to empower himself and wants others to have the same experience.
“We want to create that emotion that makes you feel like it’s all possible,” he said.
With no formal business training, Ritz has taken it upon himself to learn the business side of things, which includes everything from balancing books to merchandising.
Despite the strenuous learning curve, he says his experience is part of the brand’s message — taking control of the situation and doing whatever it takes to achieve your goals.
“It all goes back to the message of self-growth, self-dedication to a process, and believing that you can achieve everything you want in this life as long as you understand that it starts with you,” he said.
“We’re not here just to put out a hoodie and hope people like it. We’re here to promote the message of the power of self, and the power within you to.”
Ritz says he wants the brand to remind people they can achieve anything they want, as long as they’re willing to work for it.
Tanner Ring, co-founder and vice president of Utility Athletics, says the company’s message is a big part of why he got involved.
As an avid sports fan, Ring says he experienced his fair share of personal challenges due to his size.
“I wasn’t always the biggest, strongest, fastest guy growing up. I struggled in that area,” said Ring.
Despite lacking in physical ability, Ring says he always challenged himself to compete and wound up playing college baseball after high school.
“It’s not about what others are going to think about you or what others are doing. It’s all about you.”
That attitude has kept Utility Athletics afloat for the last few years in a competitive industry.
“It’s a lot of time and money invested, a lot of ups and downs and learning lessons along the way. We’ve had some big learning curves,” Ring said.
“You’ve got to learn from them. You’ve got to go back to the drawing board and find out what’s going to built you up instead of sitting on those setbacks.”
Both co-founders say that attitude and motivation will hopefully give Utility Athletics a competitive edge.
“We don’t just want to compete in this industry, we want to dominate,” said Ritz.
After a few new additions to the Utility Athletics team, Ritz and Ring hope to start expanding across the province and country.
“We’re looking to make some serious noise in the next year,” he added.
Utility Athletics is currently offering product delivery through their social media accounts and recently launched their shopify website. Their products can also be found on the company’s website.