The Joy of Pickleball: Stylish 4Joy Paddles Reflect Greenwich Entrepreneur’s Mission

Pickleball has become one of America’s fastest-growing sports and has been trending up in popularity for the last five years. As the sport grew, Riverside resident and entrepreneur Stacey Cleary developed with a new line of pickleball paddles. 4Joy was created to update pickleball gear for players who want a performance quality paddle and stylish designs to express themselves.

The paddles are designed to start a conversation because they’re interesting and different and allow the player to identify and support a brand that is all woman-owned, has a serious mission, and a positive message.

Riverside entrepreneur Stacey Cleary on the pickleball court with some of the 4Joy paddles she created.

4Joy Paddle Company was founded by teacher, creator, artist and pickleball enthusiast Stacey Cleary in Riverside.

Cleary started the company during the summer of 2023, as a labor of love. Pickleball players are passionate about the sport because it’s first and foremost a fun and inclusive community building sport.

“I love how when you get on a pickleball court it doesn’t matter your skill level or your age or your gender, pickleballers are accepting and willing to give their time to help you learn and improve,” she said.

The first inkling of an idea for a new brand of paddles came from the courts where Stacey and her husband Rich learned to play during Covid.

“We were all out there in the hot sun wearing masks and tapping our paddles instead of shaking hands,” she said, adding that pickleball was the only activity they had besides binge watching Netflix and Zooming for work.

“We got progressively better and continued to play indoors during the winter,” she said.

The outdoor spring and summer sessions started up again in 2021 and they enthusiastically signed up. At that point the sport was becoming more popular and the town had installed racks on the fences of Loughlin Park to hold paddles as a way to wait in line for a turn to play.

“People would hold up these paddles and say who’s gray paddle is this and everyone would turn to look. I saw this line of dull, gray and black and generally boring unattractive paddles and I thought, “Pickleball is a fun, joyous sport, and the paddle should match that vibe!”

At the end of that summer Cleary got a very scary medical diagnosis. She had a brain tumor that had to be surgically removed. The tumor was thankfully benign but lodged in a tricky spot just behind her left eye. The surgery was a success but the recovery was long and difficult. Cleary had to use a cane for a while and regain her balance. Pickleball was out of the question for a long time.

When she was ready to start playing again she began searching for a new upgraded paddle but could not find anything that matched what she was looking for: a high quality advanced level paddle that would help her improve her game with high quality fun and interesting graphics.

From there, she started designing on her computer different ideas that she thought would look good on a paddle. When she showed the designs to her friends and pickleball pals, they all encouraged her to turn this idea into a company. The project began in earnest over the summer of 2023 with a lot of research. Cleary wrote a business plan and recruited a team of consultants and advisors. Her first priority was to develop a high-tech performance level paddle that would fit most player’s needs in terms of size, shape and weight. She found a reliable manufacturer overseas that has been making pickleball paddles for over 10 years and makes paddles for some of the top brands.

Cleary ordered multiple dozens of test paddles before settling on the final design. The paddle model which she eventually named the Premio Series is actually based on one of the most popular paddles on the market. The handle and grip are quite different from other paddles however, as they are custom designed for 4Joy with speciality softer handle forms and comfortable luxurious faux leather grip wrap.

Throughout this research and development process Cleary was also trying to settle on a name that she could trademark for her company. She sent surveys to friends and family, made lists, and consulted with marketing companies. She played pickleball in the meantime and then it came to her; there are 4 players on the court… We play 4 Joy. 4Joy was born.

Cleary describes 4Joy as more than a pickleball company, and rather a company on a mission, with an early commitment to donate a portion of proceeds to charitable organizations. One of the most significant takeaways from experiencing the brain tumor for Cleary was an appreciation for the importance of health and since playing pickleball has such major positive health benefits, so she chose four health organizations for her focus.


They decided to start with four organizations, “We give 4Joy.” Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance in honor of her dear friend Diane Powis of Greenwich who had passed away from the disease the year before, after a brutal 9 year battle. Diane’s story and how that disease often gets missed by doctors until it’s in advanced stages is why this organization is so important.

Second, The American Cancer Society was selected because of Cleary’s experience with the brain tumor and being grateful every day that it wasn’t cancerous, giving to ACS for all those who are or have suffered with cancer was an absolute must.

Third, The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund was selected because so many of her friends and family have been affected by that terrible disease, including her dear brother-in-law John Turner of Ridgefield who was diagnosed at 52 with early onset and her mother-in-law Maura Cleary who suffered for many years.

The fourth organization selected was the Breast Cancer Research Foundation because there are so many women and men who suffer with the disease including Cleary’s maternal grandmother Elenor Adams Baxel.

Cleary’s business was incorporated in October of 2023. The final paddle samples were ordered with the logo and submitted to the USAP to be certified for tournament use.

Cleary said USA Pickleball required that test paddles be sent to various locations around the country to ensure that the paddles met certain specifications.

Once the paddles passed the test, the final bulk order was placed and the product finally launched in January 2024.

The paddles are fully USAP certified for tournament use with the USAP stamp.

Since launching, Cleary said the paddles have been a huge hit with rave reviews and exceptional feedback.

“People love how the paddles play, feel and look,” she said. “A company was born right here in Riverside.”