As someone who has been close to the licensed sports business his entire life, Brian Rutt can't stand to see a sports logo that doesn't look right.
So the man behind The Emblem Source, a Dallas-based company that makes patches for baseball uniforms and bowl games, couldn't stand seeing his fellow Jews wearing yarmulkes with badly designed logos.
Rutt knew that the market for Jewish head coverings was a small niche, but he also knew that if he could convince the leagues that there was some money in it, they'd be able to cash in on what had traditionally been an unlicensed category.
The Emblem Source now makes the official yarmulkes of Major League Baseball and the NBA, and although there isn't a player on the field or on the court who wears the Pro Kippah, the business has taken off.
Rutt's company obviously makes more and sells more yarmulkes in highly Jewish-populated areas. People in Brooklyn can't get enough of the black Brooklyn Nets one or a retro Dodgers one he recently made. He made an Expos ones for Jewish fans of the former Montreal team, and Miami Heat fans will have a "whiteout" version for the playoffs.
The yarmulkes cost $19 to $23 each, depending on the style.
"We often have grandfathers buying them for their sons and grandsons," Rutt said.
Aside from helping the leagues take some of the authorized goods out of the market, Rutt has also increased his business by making a patented clip that goes on both sides and holds the yarmulke in place from the inside. It's a cleaner look for those who want it to really look like a hat or even for a basketball player who needs to run up and down the floor with it on.
So far, Rutt's marketing efforts have all been grassroots. But he's hoping that a Jewish player will come along and wear a yarmulke on the court, enabling him to better display his product to the world.
A Jan. 25 ESPN.com Playbook story about officially licensed yarmulkes incorrectly said which company has a patented clip that holds the yarmulke in place. That patent is owned by Klipped Kippahs.