One family swears it will never forget where its roots originated — that place is Virginia Tech.
Steve Hollar and his daughter Lexi are introducing Tech fans to a new kind memorabilia to faun over. However, their fairly new products are unlike the traditional items that can be found in bookstores.
From Fairfax, Va., the Hollars come from a long line of Hokie descent. Steve and his wife attended Tech, and when his daughter attended the university a few years ago, he was ecstatic to have an excuse to go back to Blacksburg.
Now that Lexi has recently graduated, Steve decided he needed to find a new purpose for his frequent trips to the heart of the Hokie Nation.
After earning a degree in computer science at Tech, Steve maintained a great interest in woodworking — he combines his talents in shop, since much of the equipment he uses, such as a laser engraver, is computer-controlled.
With his education and hobby in mind, Steve came up with an idea for a new business — Game Day Designs — when Lexi was still in school to stay busy after retirement. Game Day Designs creates Tech paraphernalia beyond koozies and tailgating plates.
Steve initially made engraved pens, which Game Day Designs still sells. However, he wanted to expand his expertise by using other materials. He later realized that Corian — brand-name solid surface material commonly used to make kitchen countertop surfaces — had various color options.
He eventually found a Corian color match that embodied the classic Hokie maroon and orange, so he uses the material to create most items.
“I wanted to do something I was familiar with, and Virginia Tech was obviously something I was familiar with," Steve said.
"Lexi was still in school when I decided to try this, so I just started putting 'VT' on things. After all, if you put a 'VT' on anything, somebody is going to buy it.”
Steve began making an assortment of Tech-themed items that could be used in homes or for gifts. Game Day Designs now offers cutting boards, wine stoppers, glass Christmas ornaments, Lazy Susan turntables, napkin holders, graduation frames, engraved wine glasses, as well as wine glass and cheese holders — all inlayed with Tech logos.
“The possibilities are endless what he can come up with,” Lexi said. “The neat thing about it is you won’t see anything else like it. We’ve gone to tons of craft fairs, the Campus Emporium, the Tech Bookstore — they all have the same thing after a while.”
Game Day Designs provides customers with a new outlet to purchase Hokie gear that isn't traditional or cliche, Lexi said.
“My dad’s stuff is unique because there’s nothing else like it, and it’s good quality,” she said. "The items are not the kind of things found around your average college dorm. They're beyond your usual tailgate items.”
The father-daughter team works well together — Steve creates the products, while his daughter works on advertising through Facebook, Pinterest and word of mouth
When Lexi still attended Tech, she was able to spread the word about the company to her fellow students.
Now that she has graduated, her and her father's business thrives off of trips to Blacksburg to not only show off product designs, but also to have a little fun.
“We just love Tech and any excuse to go down. Every time we go down to Tech we talk about where we’re going to eat and plan to make trips to the Cascades, among other things,” Lexi said. “My dad and I literally have a bucket list for when we go down for weekends.”
Through mingling with other Hokie alumni, the Hollars have learned that a person's love for Tech lives on outside the Blacksburg community.
“You meet so many people at craft fairs who are really excited to see these things they’ve never seen before and to meet other Hokies who share the passion we have for Virginia Tech,” Lexi said.
The main goal of Game Day Designs is to give Hokies of all ages a constant connection through items that can remain in households for years.
“You’ll find out that after four years you just won’t want to leave,” Steve said.