A new take on a classic pastime 0
Members of the Gazoo Hoops Crew, from left, Allison de Ruiter, Danielle Brubacher, Natalie Hastings, and Christy Munro at the Festival of Northern Lights.
For this week’s article I traveled north to Sudbury, Ontario to interview Collingwood native and creator of Gazoo Hoops Natalie Hastings.
The interview took place at The Festival of Northern Lights where Hastings set up shop for the weekend to sell her handmade hula hoops.
That Saturday morning consisted of gorgeous weather and a backdrop of crystal blue lakes and lush green trees. The Gazoo Hoops tent could not have been in a better location, directly in front of the main stage and right across from the bouncy castle, enticing children of all ages to come rushing over to try hooping themselves.
“This is just a silly kind of fun thing,” says Hastings. “You think of a lot of activities and they require so much equipment and so much special stuff and this (hula hooping) is just very simple.”
Made of PVC tubing and electrical tape, the hoops are truly unique, and not only do they stand out from other brands, but also from each other. No two hoops look alike, whether they differ in colour or pattern, and if you would like to see a specific colour added to your hoop of choice it’s no problem.
Hastings makes each of the hoops entirely by her own hand.
“Sometimes I rope my parents into making hoops or recruit a few volunteers, but the majority of the time it’s just me,” she says
How did all of this start?
“It all started back when I took a trip to California with a good girlfriend of mine. We were at a farmer’s market, everyone was out hula-hooping and I tried it and just kind of fell in love with it,” says Hastings. “When I came back home I decided I wanted to make one, but in order to make one you need to get supplies that makes around 10 and I didn’t need 10, so I just started selling them around to friends and then it all just escalated from there.”
The stage was being closed for soundcheck and many of the kids had dispersed for lunch, so we took a short break to regroup and hydrate when a familiar song came on over the speakers. Joel Plaskett and The Emergency were the big act of the day and they were doing a soundcheck in preparation of their performance scheduled for later that night.
An idea emerged from amongst the group to present Plaskett with his very own Gazoo Hoop.
“I’ve never had a famous person hula-hoop! I want Joel Plaskett to hula-hoop so bad.”
The hoop was chosen and a plan was set — maneuver ourselves to the front of the stage in order to slide it over to him.
Once the soundcheck was over and people started to make their way back over to the tent, I noticed that everyone was joining in. Kids, parents, grandparents, and even some of the volunteers at the festival were coming over to try it.
People who had already been hooping that morning had come back to try again and buy their own hoop because they had so much fun with it.
“Everyone should hula hoop because you can’t be angry while you’re hula-hooping. You could try really hard but it doesn’t work and it’s really good exercise and a lot more fun than doing sit ups. It’s not just for the abs either, you can do it on your arms or your legs, it’s really up to the individual,” added Christy Munro, also apart of the Gazoo Hoops Crew. “It’s also self-motivated in terms of tricks. It’s up to you how much you want to do and how far you want to take it.
“You don’t have to be a professional to start; you don’t even have to work up to that. You are in charge of your own level.”
There were also a great deal of spectators watching everyone spin and twirl the hoops around and enjoying every minute of everyone’s enjoyment. The attention even attracted a reporter for Radio Canada, which resulted in her interviewing Hastings about her business.
“I caused a traffic jam once. A bunch of us were hula-hooping in the park and cars were stopping to watch us, they got distracted. The lights would turn green and they wouldn’t go they would just be staring at us.”
After some time, the spectators became the performers, finally mustering up the courage to try it themselves.
“They didn’t come here to hoop, but even if you drop it you just laugh about it. That’s so much better than not trying it. I think it’s really important to get out of your comfort zone and not be self-conscious or worry about the fact that you might look stupid. Just have fun.”
How long has Gazoo Hoops been around?
“About three years. I took a business course at Guelph University when I was a student there, and I was able to work with my own business, so that really enabled me to set this all up and shortly after that I started selling at the markets in Guelph. It’s been a lot of work but it’s been good, you have to put time into something in order for it to pay off.”
As the day turned into night and the Gazoo Hoop tent was closed for business, we grabbed our stuff and headed over to the main stage to secure ourselves a spot in the perfect location to hand Joel Plaskett his Gazoo Hoop.
Finally making it up to the front of the stage, Hastings lifted the hoop to place it as close to Plaskett as possible when the crowd became insistent on passing it along from person to person, as if the hoop had done a stage dive.
Watching the intrigue and the sheer excitement from the crowd as the hoop surfed around was pretty incredible. When the hoop finally made its way back into Hastings’ hands she took that opportunity to quickly roll it up on stage, where it landed right at Plaskett’s feet.
When the song finished, he picked it up and tried to hula with it, causing the crowd to go wild. He then set it aside and continued to play his set, just when we thought that that was the best thing that could have ever possibly happened, the girl behind us said she was going to get Natalie on stage.
She shimmied herself up to the front of the stage beside us and started miming to the bass player as he was playing the current song. He nodded his head in agreement and before we knew it, Natalie was lifted up on stage by fellow concert-goers, grabbed the Plaskett hoop and started hopping on stage. Plaskett at one point went over and started doing a guitar solo next to her while she hooped along to the song.
When the song was done, Plaskett made a second attempt at trying to hula and was able to keep it up for a bit which was awesome. The crowd then jumped on this opportunity and rushed the stage, which Plaskett seemed to be completely fine with; even one one guy went up to the microphone and sang a song alongside Plaskett.
When the concert was over it all seemed like a blur, none of us could believe what had just happened.
“I can’t wait to tell my mom,” said Hastings, “she is the biggest Joel Plaskett fan.”
The next morning before I began to make my way back to Collingwood, and before the hoop tent opened for its second and final day at The Northern Lights Festival, Hastings and I had another opportunity to chat. It was again, another absolutely beautiful day and people were eager to start hooping.
One woman came over and asked Hastings for a business card because she was interested in placing an order of 30 for the kids in her class. Shortly after that a couple of Roller Derby girls came over and asked Hastings if she was interested in maybe doing a half-time show at one of their games.
“I have no idea where this business is going to take me but I am having so much fun doing it,” she said. “I think every person should have a hobby that they are really into and devote the time to it.
“I have practiced my fair share of hours but now I can do these tricks and it helps to focus and centre me.”
Overall it was a wonderful weekend, thank you so much to Natalie and the rest of the Hoop Crew, you guys are awesome!
And if you would like to find out more information about Gazoo Hoops or would like to purchase one, visit www.gazoohoops.com.
Have a wonderful week everyone, and don’t forget that if you have any questions or comments you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.