For Mike Dawson, the sweet smell of success could come from the stinkiest of odours.
Dawson began distributing a new after-sport hand deodorizer this summer that he developed, bottled and marketed by him.
Seven retailers are already carrying the product, called Fresh Mitts, including Micor Sports in Sarnia.
Dawson, 27, was born and raised in Sarnia and graduated from Northern Collegiate before pursuing a business and electrical engineering degree at McMaster.
He grew up playing minor hockey and Jr. B. lacrosse for the Point Edward Pacers, and played Jr. A. lacrosse in Mississauga and Burlington.
For years, he said, he listened to teammates and their families complain about the smell sports gloves leave on the skin. Even after a shower with soap, the smell hangs on.
“We’d all try the home remedies to mask that smell but nothing really worked. If you play a sport that requires you to hold a stick, it’s even worse because you’re grinding that bacteria and the smell even deeper into your skin,” said Dawson.
“When we got older and had girlfriends, it became even more important, so I was thinking about it for a long time.
“I realized no one had solved the problem.”
After landing an engineering consulting job in Calgary, Dawson began working with a Montreal cosmetics lab on a cream to eradicate the unique stench produced by sweat and bacteria in sports gloves.
“I worked with the lab for about 10 months and it took 13 iterations before we found something that kills the odour,” he said.
“The winning formula is a combination of natural and synthetic ingredients that work together and do the job.”
The research and development for Fresh Mitts cost only a few thousand dollars, he added, declining to identify the active ingredients.
Next came a study to see if consumers would be interested. Dawson handed Fresh Mitts to about 100 sports players.
“I decided if they came out of the change rooms excited about it I’d move ahead with the company. If they didn’t say anything or didn’t bother using it, I’d let it go.
“But when they came out, they were pumped and said it actually works.”
In July, Dawson’s Calgary condo became the distribution centre for Fresh Mitts. The cream gets shipped in bulk from Montreal. Jars arrive from China for Dawson to manually fill. Retailers in Sarnia, Toronto, Six Nations and Calgary have put orders in.
“They all sell sports equipment and some are lacrosse specific,” he said. “I’m also talking to boxing gyms, hockey shops and arenas. The retailers are jumping on it pretty quickly.
“Hopefully, once a professional athlete endorses Fresh Mitts, I’ll have even more orders. I’ve already set up meetings with a couple of high level NHLers, so we’ll see how that goes.”
Fresh Mitts is also available online at www.freshmitts.com and costs $15 for a 100 ml jar, which is enough for 75 uses. Product details are available on Instagram & Twitter @freshmitts and Facebook @freshmittsinc.
Dawson said he hopes to move his company into warehouse space soon.
“The dream is that Fresh Mitts will eventually be in the athlete’s toolkit alongside stick tape, shine tape, 2-in-1 body wash, shampoo and deodorant.”