Flycodes Apparel, born and bred right here in the Roanoke region, makes customized high-performance gear for teams, companies, and individuals in hopes of giving everyone an opportunity to represent their school and city. We sat down with founder Champ Hubbard to hear about his entrepreneurial journey and how our community has impacted the work.
How did your journey with Flycodes start? What was the catalyst for launching your business in the Roanoke Region?
We came back to Roanoke about 17 years ago to take care of our parents. I was a teacher in Northern Virginia, and I was trying to determine where I wanted to teach. As as alum, my heart was at William Fleming. I took a job there and eventually earned the girls’ basketball head coaching position. I was trying to come up with ways to help the girls with camaraderie and becoming a team. My thought was to work on the uniforms to give them a little swag, and the wheels started turning.
We understand that you have come to somewhat trademark our area code as a brand. Tell us where that came from?
Back in the day, when I was playing basketball, I remember Patrick Henry High School used to have these really cool PH socks. I thought if I could give our players something like that, something personalized to represent their school or community, it would put us on the map. I was able to start doing custom socks with the uniforms, and I decided to put 540 on the socks. Originally, I thought it was just a cool idea to represent where you are from, but then the socks took off. What I remember most about that first season is the players from the opposing teams weren’t looking at their opponent; they were looking at the socks. Something clicked in my head–maybe I have something here.
Since the beginning of the business, you have been about representing your community. If it’s not just about the socks and the uniforms, what is it about?
I thought for a while I was just going to bless people in the community, but ironically, this put Flycodes on the map outside the region. From day one, I have always wanted to bring attention to the community. Teams and schools in other places in Virginia got more attention, and we wanted our athletes here in the region to get the same opportunities. This is ultimately why we started highlighting the area code on our apparel to put us on the map and help athletes in the community. The socks set a precedent of college scouts remembering the socks and, ultimately, remembering the player. It opened a door for me as a coach to tell scouts about my kids and other kids in our region that were getting overlooked. It’s strange that it all started with a sock, but it worked out in our favor after we were able to help dozens of kids go to college on their talent alone. We kicked the door down, and opportunity followed.
How did you go from making custom socks to having a full apparel business here in the region?
After our brand started getting recognition and representation through the basketball and track communities, I knew I could expand on the idea and I started researching more apparel. In the back of my mind, I always wanted to be in the schools, so kids here could be unique. We are proud to now be represented at William Fleming, Patrick Henry, Northside, Cave Spring, Lord Botetourt, and Roanoke Catholic. My main goal was to provide uniforms for all the sports leagues in the region’s school systems. It’s like a dream come true to see our uniforms come out of the tunnel or the locker room. Additionally, we’re now providing apparel (like polos, outerwear, etc.) for several companies and their employees!
You share a lot about community and the importance of community involvement. Tell us what that means to you?
Part of the success we have had is due to community support. Starting a company here was always the most important aspect of my business. I always wanted the foundation of having our business here in Roanoke because it means something. People want to support you because you are local. If our business ever blows up to be bigger than we are now, we can always say our business started in little ol’ Roanoke, and that means a lot to the community. It brings attention, opportunity, and jobs here. Ultimately, my goal would be to provide jobs to people in our region and give back to help our schools.
Besides continuing your entrepreneurial journey here in the region, what other aspirations or dreams do you have for our region?
I would love to see joint ventures for the betterment of the community.
Interested in working with Flycodes? Connect with Champ: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you know of someone making a difference in the community or has a great story, we want to hear from you! Email Taylor.