Around the same time last year, Kirk Arsenault found himself in a tough spot.
He was still recovering from a recent heart attack – which resulted in a quadruple bypass surgery – and returned to work sooner than he was supposed to, only to lose his job soon after.
But rather than moping or stressing about what to do next, the South Surrey dad – and former youth football coach and rugby player with the Semiahmoo Old Boys – used the free time to start a business. , selling a product he would tinker with for years.
After teaming up with a friend who had connections in the apparel business, Arsenault launched Str8laced, selling sports cleat wraps that keep laces from coming off in the middle of a game or practice. The wraps are made from a poly-cotton blend – the same material used in football socks, but with more elasticity.
“It’s been an ongoing thing for a few years, but we’ve just rounded up all of our ducks in a row,” he said.
“This (new career path) might not be something I expected, but everything happens for a reason – that has always been my point of view. It went pretty well. People talk about making lemonades from lemons and that was exactly it. It freed up my time and here we are, moving forward.
“We’re just working to get the word out and then we’ll see where it goes.”
Arsenault said the idea for the lace blankets came to him after years of playing sports himself, as well as watching his daughter’s teams play.
“In rugby we always tie our laces, but once I started using them – I had a pair of models that I had made at home – we found that it worked really well”, he explained. “And watching (the younger kids) play football, it’s the middle of winter and they’re out there – sometimes it’s hard to bend down to tie my own shoelaces, let alone a bunch of young people.” girls running with their laces undone. “
So far, Arsenault has donated 200 pairs of their product to South Surrey / White Rock’s Coastal FC Football Association – “To test them and tell me what they think”, he said – while a friend who coaches a youth team in Port Coquitlam also bought a set for his team.
Arsenault said they will appear in a few local stores soon – like Docksteader Source for Sports, he noted – and that he hopes to continue to expand the reach of the company.
He will also be looking to expand to Alberta as he prepares to move with his family to Medicine Hat at the end of the month. After losing their previous job, Arsenault said they decided to sell their home and move to a location where the cost of living was lower.
The price of the packaging isn’t prohibitive – $ 3.99 individually at retail stores, or $ 1.99 if teams place direct bulk orders – and Arsenault said that was by design.
“I didn’t want to create a bulky, expensive product for something that serves such a purpose. It’s one of those things that comes in handy – there’s a need… and we’re providing (a solution) at a low cost.
Even though he is preparing to leave the community – his business partner will stay here and lead the BC portion of the operation, he noted – Arsenault has said he hopes his product will have a lasting effect. .
“I hope people see these things on the pitch and say ‘Hey, I think they’re made by that cranky old Kirk who was training me,’ he said.