Back when he was a player, on Mission Hockey’s Pro R&D team, Stephen Campbell always looked forward to one of his favorite days of the year – when the team’s new uniforms would come out.
It wasn’t just that he got new, fresh gear. He was fascinated on the design -- how the color scheme came together, how the logo looked. He found himself trying to figure out the thought process that went into it.
Little did he know it would lead to a career.
Over the past decade, including the last year with his own company – Unify Gamewear – Campbell has designed some 1,000 custom uniforms. That list includes teams in the new National Roller Hockey League, including the already-popular logo of the Port Huron Yeti.
“The Inline Hockey Community has played a huge role helping me get going and getting me to where I am today,” Campbell said. “I’m very fortunate to have so many people out there giving me the opportunity to design their uniforms and other graphic needs.”
It all started innocently enough. He just liked the designs of Justin Hoffman, who would do the hockey sweaters he played in.
“Justin Hoffman was always someone I looked up to,” Campbell said. “The way he would use his creativity to create something unique and never seen before in the sport. It sparked so much interest.”
Campbell went to school, and later worked, as an engineer, but he found himself getting pulled back to his interest in graphic design. He decided to teach himself how do it at a professional level.
“The minute I got home from work I would begin to train myself on it.”
He got good at it. Really good at it. The proof is in his work, not to mention the breadth of clients, from teams of all shapes, sizes, age groups and budgets. What started as a “side hustle” has morphed into something bigger than he could have dreamed, quitting his steady day job as an engineer and opening his own graphic design company.
“It’s still very scary living month to month without a guaranteed paycheck from your employer like most are used to,” Campbell said. “However now that I've been at it for over a year, I wouldn't change it for a thing.”
Campbell jumped at the chance to work with the NRHL. Not only did it offer a blank canvas to work with, but he appreciated the entrepreneurial spirit of the league.
“Working with the NRHL has been great. Like just about all my customers they have been supportive, communicative, and easy to work with,” he said. “It makes the whole process roll out smooth which makes my job easy. I really appreciate all the support the NRHL has done for me. I will continue to help them out with anything they made need in the future.”
Based on his work on the Yeti, this looks like a long-term partnership. The logo is eye-catching, fun and unique.
"We knew we had to call Stephen when we were at the branding/logo stage for announcing teams," stated NRHL President Matt Wiedenhoeft. "He designed the NRHL logo in the beginning, which has been a big hit. Continuing this continued relationship was an easy choice."
“Stephen is amazing,” said NRHL president Bob Clouston. “We are extremely fortunate to be working with someone as talented as he is. The reaction to the logos has been incredible. Fans love it and creates a memorable brand for our league that says big things are in store for the NRHL.”
Campbell said he’s learned to trust himself when it comes to designing a logo and a uniform.
“I always tell myself that one day I’m going to wake up and finally realize I have no more ideas on what to do,” he said. “I actually usually start with a team name, sometimes the team has a logo, which makes things much easier. And I go from there. I always can tell that once I see the team’s logo and it’s a good one, that the uniform is going to turn out epic.
“I love taking aspects of the cool logo and reusing it throughout the jersey to give it its own custom unique look,” he said.
Maybe best of all, he knows the ultimate payoff – the excitement players get when they see their new uniform.
That’s what drove him to this unexpected career. That’s what continues to motivate him today.
If you’d like to contact Stephen Campbell and Unify Gamewear, he can be reached in the following ways: