Monday December 4, 2023
exclusive
Retail

How Noggin Boss Became the Next Big Thing in Sports Apparel

  • The Brian Robinson photo was just the latest moment in company history.
  • Noggin Boss appeared on "Shark Tank" and launched at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Founders of Noggin Boss Gabe Cooper and Sean Starner pose in large hats in front of desert back drop
Noggin Boss
Linkedin
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

The story of Noggin Boss really begins three times.

Most recently, it began in late November, when a photo of Washington Commanders RB Brian Robinson wearing a giant hat lit the internet ablaze.

After that, Noggins started popping up everywhere.

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen was awarded one from Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football crew as the player of the game after Buffalo’s win over New England. Players from the Orlando Magic did a photo shoot wearing the hats. Players from the University of Georgia wore them after winning the SEC Championship.

ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt also notably sported one on SportsCenter, having gotten in on the action long ago when Noggin Boss co-founders Gabe Cooper and Sean Starner were just trying to spread the good word about their product.

“We have planted seeds for years, and we will do whatever it takes to try to find people that we feel would be good promoters of the brand,” Cooper told Front Office Sports. “We literally shipped those years ago to Scott Van Pelt and never heard anything back, but all of a sudden, it resurfaced.”

Those promoters all notably wore Noggins with logos that Noggin Boss is unlicensed to sell — but Cooper says that’s a fortunate piece of serendipity for the company.

Noggin Boss has never sold a hat with an unlicensed logo on it, doing everything “100% above board.”

“Fans will take liberties on their own,” Cooper says. “We are very interested in going down the paths of obtaining the proper [league] licensing ourselves, so we wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that.”

A Hot Item

Of course, the sudden popularity of the brand means that everyone wants one.

After the Robinson photo, several outlets reported that Noggin Boss saw a 2,000% spike in sales. Cooper says that number was misrepresented — but the company has certainly seen a wild spike in orders, especially at this time of year.

“We’re just thankful for the grace that our fans are extending to us during the holiday season, which is crazy enough,” Cooper says.

Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson wears large hat while celebrating with teammates after game

Brian Robinson Photo Leads to 2,000% Spike for Big Hat Company

Monday was one of the biggest sales days in Noggin Boss history.
November 30, 2022

Noggin Boss was ready for this moment. That’s because its second pivotal moment happened in the studios of the extremely popular television series “Shark Tank.”

Cooper and Starner appeared on the show earlier this year, very quickly striking a deal with apparel magnate Daymond John.

But that wasn’t all: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban verbally agreed to sell Mavs Noggin Bosses in the team’s store. Cuban held up his end of the deal — and even delayed the Dallas Stars from selling Noggins because he wanted an exclusive selling period for his Mavericks.

The Noggin Boss founders purposely came into the Tank with a very low company valuation — realizing that what John and Cuban could offer them was much more valuable than money.

“These professionals have more connections than we could possibly ask for,” says Cooper, “so why would we disrespect them with an offer that we wouldn’t even give to a friend if we were trying to invite them into the business?”

Those connections are already paying dividends: Besides the Dallas teams, Noggin Boss has sold hats — through approved buyers — to the Arizona Cardinals, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, and San Jose Sharks.

Cooper also says that the company will have a strong presence during college football bowl season — and that it is finalizing licensing for a much more expansive offering.

How It All Started

But for all of its high-profile moments in the last few months, Noggin Boss’ story really began in early 2020 at the notorious Waste Management Phoenix Open. The raucous atmosphere of the golf tournament provided the perfect proving ground for the product.

“[It] was just such a huge hit, and that was the validation of like, ‘Okay, this is the good kickoff that we needed,’” Cooper says.

That success began to roll over into MLB Spring Training in Arizona — but then, of course, the world shut down because of COVID-19.

But that didn’t dampen Cooper or Starner’s spirit in the slightest. The pair knew they had something here — and they believe it could last in the long term.

Outside of the sports world, Noggin Boss has had a strong presence at bachelor and bachelorette parties, college campuses, and charity events — where Cooper says the hats get auctioned off for over $1,000.

He says the product’s universal appeal will keep it relevant for years to come.

“It just brings so much joy to people,” says Cooper. “We call it the Noggin Boss effect: When they wear it, they have so many smiles and so many conversations with complete strangers. It’s better than any medicine out there.”

Linkedin
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Shaquille O'Neal
exclusive

A.I. Shaq? Authentic Files Trademarks Hinting at Virtual Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal and licensing group claim “ASK SHAQ” and “SHAQ A.I.”
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James drives against Phoenix Suns guard Jordan Goodwin in the first half at Footprint Center.

NBA In-Season Tournament Gains Viewers in Second Week

The viewership is a 73% increase from last year’s equivalent Friday game.
Raina Kelley of ESPN
exclusive

Sources: Top Leader of ESPN’s 'Andscape' Poised To Leave

Raina Kelley, editor-in-chief of 'Andscape' since 2021, was the third leader of the platform, which launched in 2016.
NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney leads driver Kyle Larson during the Cup Series Championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

NASCAR Rolls Across 2023 Finish Line With Viewership Decline

NASCAR remains firmly ahead of surging Formula 1 in American broadcasts.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

CFP Selection Turns Heads with Controversial Selection

0:00
0:00

Featured Today

The College Football Playoff is considering rotating TV networks for the national championship game.

CFP Considers Super Bowl-Like Rotation For National Championship Game

Multiple networks could share rights to the championship game, sources told FOS.
Brett Favre
November 27, 2023

Favre Welfare Case Hold-Up? "AG’s Office Has Not Expressed Interest In Pursuing"

The DOJ interviewed Brett Favre in early 2020.
The future of the Pac-12 rests on a court decision.
November 24, 2023

The Pac-12 Plays Its Final Regular-Season Game. Then A Court Decides Its Fate.

The conference's future rests with a court decision.
Lane Kiffin
November 9, 2023

Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin Lawyers Argue for Dismissal of Player Lawsuit

FOS obtained audio of Lane Kiffin's interaction with the player behind lawsuit.

Careers

Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Wasserman
Multiple - USA Careers
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Saco Bay PT
Multiple - USA Careers

Sports Apparel Giants Looking For Holiday Season Turnaround

Once-surging category enters the critical selling period mired in a slump.
November 20, 2023

Messi Set To Challenge For Another Off-Pitch Record

Messi's World Cup jerseys are headed for auction.
November 21, 2023

Upbeat Dick’s Earnings Counter Slowdown In Sports Apparel Market

Surprise earnings beat contrasts from other recent results in the category.
Sponsored

NHL’s Chris Foster on Amplifying Content Distribution With Automation

Learn how the NHL is using WSC Sports to increase fan engagement.
October 12, 2023

Liverpool Facing Further Stadium Delays Amid Shifting Financial Future

Liverpool is expanding its stadium capacity to 61,000.
People take pictures on their phones of the New York Stock Exchange decorated with On branding.
October 6, 2023

Roger Federer-Backed On Outlines Ambitious Growth Plans

The Swiss company plans to double sales to $3.85 billion by 2026.
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani hits against the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning at Angel Stadium.
September 29, 2023

Shohei Ohtani Tops MLB Jersey Sales List For First Time

He's the first Japanese player to headline the list in MLB history.
Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi following the victory against Los Angeles FC at BMO Stadium.
September 29, 2023

Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami Jersey Headlines 2023 MLS Sales

Messi had MLS’ top-selling jersey in his first season.