When he’s not dishing out punishment on the ice in the form of body checks and uppercuts, National Hockey League (NHL) player George Parros is hard at work building brand awareness for Violent Gentlemen, a unisex clothing line that celebrates hockey’s less glamorous heroes – the enforcers. That’s right – the 6’5” 228-pound mustachioed tough guy is a bit of a fashionista, offering up stylish ladies’ camisoles and leggings, along with scarves, tees, and snapbacks. Who’da thunk it?
Violent Gentlemen was launched in 2011 from Costa Mesa, CA while George Parros was playing for the Anaheim Ducks. Mike Hammer was selling “Parros Nation” shirts in the Ducks’ arena’s parking lot while George Parros had been toying with the idea of starting his own fashion line. The two were put in contact with each other, decided to team up, and co-founded Violent Gentlemen. Brian Talbert, who was brought on board to serve as Creative Director, came up with the name Violent Gentlemen as it embodies the values of hockey’s greatest enforcers: grit and toughness, but also respect and honor.
Building the Brand
The company is very active on social media, engaging customers on a daily basis on its Twitter and Facebook pages. “Unofficial” brand ambassadors also help build awareness, with other professional athletes like Cam Fowler and Carey Price of the NHL, CM Punk of the WWE, and Michael Bisping and Quinton Jackson of the UFC sporting Violent Gentlemen clothing. Parros, a fan favorite in the NHL, is of course the face of the company and handles media relations.
About George Parros
Parros is anything but the stereotypical dim-witted jock. In fact, he studied economics at Princeton University. His senior thesis “Trouble on the Docks” examined the labor dispute of the West Coast’s longshoremen and its impact on the U.S. economy. In junior hockey, he worked as a runner at the Chicago Board of Trade. In 2010, Parros was named the fourth smartest athlete by Sporting News.
Born in Washington, PA and raised in Randolph, NJ, Parros played junior hockey for the Chicago Freeze before joining the Princeton University men’s hockey team, where he served as captain in his senior year during the 2002-2003 season. The right winger was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1999 but spent most of his career with the Anaheim Ducks, winning the Stanley Cup with the team in 2007. He currently plays for the Montreal Canadiens.
Aside from his being one of the most feared fighters in the NHL, Parros is best known for his trademark mustache and long hair. Parros’s annual haircut has become a charitable ritual, with money raised from the event going to charity, while the trimmed mane is donated to Locks of Love.
Professional Athletes With Their Own Business
Parros isn’t the only professional athlete who’s been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Thanks to the rise of e-commerce, social media, and new communication technologies, launching a business while maintaining a rigorous travel and workout schedule is becoming more and more doable for professional athletes. Ryan Diem, a former offensive lineman for the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL, founded his own muscle car restoration shop in 2007. Venus Williams is the founder and CEO of V Starr, a commercial and residential design firm. And Maria Sharapova created Sugarpova, a line of premium gummy candies. Add in Parros's Violent Gentlemen and it's evident that many athletes have enough business acumen to be wildly successful off the ice, field, or court as well.