Meet a Dad - Geoffrey Baldwin! - Westport Moms

How old are your kids and how long have you lived in Westport? My wife, Katie and I moved to Westport from Brooklyn 10 years ago. She’s originally from Norwalk and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. We have two boys, Graham (9) and Harrison (7).

What has been the hardest thing about raising kids and working full time with long hours? My biggest challenge as a working parent is being balanced in how I approach my children’s needs. When things are busy and everyone is on a tight schedule it’s tough to listen and make space for every single feeling. At the same time, it can be all too easy to blindly cater to my kids’ every want and desire.

Providing balanced structure and support is a huge challenge and a big reason why I started my own design studio, so that I could be more flexible in my time with my kids.

How did you end up where you are now in terms of your job, or whatever passion project it is you might be doing? Growing up, I loved to draw and was obsessed with shoes. Today, footwear design is a common pursuit at many design schools, but for a kid in Northern Kentucky in the early 1990s it was sort of a bizarre interest. Fortunately for me, I had a teacher in high school who recognized that my interest was actually something called industrial design. Even more luckily, one of the best ID programs in the world is at the University of Cincinnati, which is a few minutes from my home.

Throughout my design career, I’ve worked in studios in Portland OR, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and New York. And my projects have taken me from Korea to Kenya to design everything from pick up trucks and basketball shoes to toothbrushes and satellite dishes.

In 2020, I started my own design studio People, Places and Things (www.ppt.studio), where I collaborate with large clients like Colgate Palmolive and Equinox and smaller start ups.

It was when I was coaching my oldest son, Graham’s flag football team that my worlds as a design dad and a sports parent began to collide. I remembered how clumsy the flag football gear was from my youth, but as a coach I got to experience it all over again from a new point of view. The belts were a pain to size and put on. Buckles broke and stitches popped. The flags were totally inconsistent. Sometimes they were too hard to put on or pull off and other times they fell off while kids were running down field. And all the cones and messed up flags and belts were a giant mess. The designer inside of me knew that there had to be another way.

That was when WIN WIN Athletics was born. WIN WIN Athletics is a new kind of sports company that solves everyday sports problems for everyday athletes. Our iconic and innovative gear helps make sports more inclusive and competitive for everyone.

This spring we are launching the best flag football kit in the world. It’s like a football field that you can carry.

In one iconic shape you have everything that you need to play a game of 5-on-5 flag football (10 cones and 20 belt-less flags). The patented cones nest together as storage for the flags. Our patented flags are belt-less and clip directly to a player’s waistband, which makes them easier to put on and more consistent to pull off, so there’s less time fumbling with flags and more time spent actually playing!

For the last 2 years, we have been prototyping, product testing, securing intellectual property and setting up our supply chain. We are currently taking pre-orders and will be shipping our first kits in July.

While things are just getting started for WIN WIN but we’ve already built a ton of momentum. Since the fall of 2023 we have been in discussions with the NFL to pilot our gear with their youth and adult leagues. And just this March we were the hit of the 2024 Shape America Physical Education conference in Cleveland, Ohio. From our testing we knew that educators would love our flag football gear’s simplicity and convenience, but we were blown away by the consistent feedback that our gear was the most inclusive that anyone had ever seen.

What is your favorite family activity to do in Westport or the surrounding towns? We’re a beach family! Any warm weekend that isn’t packed with youth sports is usually spent at Compo Beach tossing a ball, taking a nap or collecting tiny crabs and sea creatures. We also have been involved in the Day of Champions, family field day fundraiser for Experience Camps the last few years and it’s definitely a spring event that we look forward to as a family.

What was your most memorable family vacation and why? After multiple vacations were canceled due the pandemic we went to Maui for Thanksgiving in 2022.  Katie and I had gone to Maui years ago when she was pregnant with Graham and had always wanted to go back with the boys. As a crazy sports person, I also had an ulterior motive, my alma mater, The University of Cincinnati was playing in The Maui Invitational Basketball tournament that year too.

It was an amazing trip. They boys got to pick out their favorite colored Jeep for us to drive around in for the trip. We hit up every beach on the island, took the boys to a luau and even went on a submarine tour. Best of all we got to see our Bearcats play 3 games at the famous Lahaina Civic Center and we stayed at the same hotel as the team so our boys got to meet the players and coaches and even hangout with them by the pool!

What is your proudest daddy moment? I love playing, watching and coaching sports with my boys, so a lot of our fun moments are sports related. It’s always great to see them succeed, but I would say that I’m most proud of them when I see them deal with adversity in a positive way.

Our teams usually have 3 rules that have nothing to do with sports:
– Listen and you do it by looking.
– Positive talk. Talk each other up and pick each other up.
– No whining. It doesn’t help anything.

That no whining one is huge. Stuff doesn’t always go your way in sports, or life. So when I see my kids struggling at a sport, obviously I feel bad for them. I feel like I want to call timeout and try to help them fix it. But everytime, I see one of my kids fail, then take a deep breath and keep trying with determined eyes, it makes me feel like I’m doing a good job as a dad. Like all the stuff that we talk about in between is making sense.

What’s your favorite app or gadget right now? My go to gadget is my 3d printer. I’m always printing some sort of prototype for a project or client.

What’s your favorite sport to play and/or watch (who do you root for?) And/or what’s your workout of choice? Baseball. Hands down. I still play on an 18 and over men’s baseball team with guys over half my age. Most of my teammates are either graduating high school or playing in college at small Northeastern schools like Trinity, Endicott, Salve Regina, Amherst, Clark and others.

In the winter, I  frequent pick up football and basketball games with other dads around Westport.

My home workouts are pretty simple: I try to keep it whole body with LOTS of stretching 😂.

 What’s your favorite restaurant in town for a family dinner? Friends? My wife’s favorite date night spot is Yamafuji Sushi. We love it because it reminds us a lot of some of our favorite spots when we lived in SF. As a family, my kids love Sherwood Diner. They have a running list of the best bacon, egg and cheeses. Whenever they try a new one it always gets compared to Sherwood!

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I skipped 6th and 7th grade when I was younger. My father and all of his brothers had gone to a college prep school in Kentucky called Covington Latin School, where most kids skip grades. I entered Covington Latin after 5th grade and started in their version of 8th grade called Prep Year. I stayed at Covington Latin for 2 years, but being the sports obsessed person that I am, I ended up transferring to a more traditional high school where I could play more competitive sports.

At Beechwood High School, aside from discovering industrial design through an art teacher, I also played baseball, basketball and football (winning 3 State titles in Football along the way).

If you had 24 hours to do whatever you wanted – what would you do? I love being creative. I love being active and competing. And I love being with my boys. There’s a lot of annoying “adult” stuff that gets in the way, but most of my days are spent doing those three things in one way or another.

Some of my best days have been ones where I get to play baseball and there’s a lot of making going on in my studio and a kid pops in and starts messing around with a prototype, asking lots of questions or drawing his own ideas.

What is your greatest regret? I’m not sure that I have any.

What’s your drink of choice? Lots of water. Athletic Light. Blanton’s. In that order.

What is the one thing your spouse does that you are eternally grateful for? =) Katie just gets me. She is all in on who I am. And I can’t thank her enough for it. She lets me be a crazy adult man who plays baseball with children. She has been by my side when design work has taken us all over the country or world. And now she’s the entire reason I’m building a sporting goods brand out of our garage. She’s got my back and I’ve got hers.

What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other dads OR what do you wish you could tell your younger self about being a father?

Just be there.

I remember when Graham and Harrison were in pre-school and I was dropping them off before I got on the train to go to the city for work. I was in a rush, but Graham wanted me to watch him “sign in” at his desk. In the back of my mind, all I could think about were the dozens of things that I had to do that day. But for some reason, while he spelled out his name on a big piece of construction paper I had a thought that has changed the way that I approach being a dad:

I thought, I can talk to adults about work any time I want. But I can only see this kid write his name, this way, in this place, right now. Fuck the train.

Build your life around your kids in whatever way you can. And when you can’t, share your work with them. Explain it in ways they’ll understand (as it turns out that also helps you talk to other dumb adults better, who knew?!) 

QUICK THIS OR THAT:
At a movie: Candy or Popcorn? Popcorn
Cook or order in? Cook
Cake or Ice Cream? Anything Custard
Iced Coffee or Hot Coffee? Neither
Beach or Mountains? Beach
Puzzle or Board Game? Board Game (Always a good game of Risk happening at the Baldwin house)
Wine or a Cocktail (if cocktail, which one?) Bourbon neat.
Reading or writing? Writing
Before bed: Social media or book/TV? TV (Either watching a Cincinnati Sports game or being a captive audience to one of my wife’s favorite Bravo shows)
Watch or play sports?  Play. Of course 😉
Stay in or go out? Stay in
Comedy or Drama? Comedy

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