Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney help Wrexham star in business venture after chance meeting
Wrexham striker Ollie Palmer has played a crucial role on the pitch since joining the club from AFC Wimbledon, but he's also had his hands full with a new business venture
When he was pitched the most unique project in football by Phil Parkinson back in January 2022, Ollie Palmer was under no illusions: he knew he was signing up for something special.
After all, Wrexham had already garnered global attention after being taken over by Hollywood megastars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and seemed destined for bigger and better things after over a decade in the abyss. But little did Palmer know that a switch to Wrexham would change his life forever - in more ways than one.
After leaving AFC Wimbledon and his Surrey home on deadline day, Palmer set out to find a place to stay via Airbnb to avoid months of sitting around in a hotel alone. A chance meeting with a family who had also just moved to Wrexham proved to be the catalyst for WXM Clothing: a joint business venture which has thrived since its inception.
"It's been incredible since we launched eight months ago," Palmer tells Mirror Football . "WXM clothing is something that the people of Wrexham and north Wales can relate to, but it's going worldwide; I'm selling clothes to places like Brazil, Australia and Hong Kong. It's just crazy."
WXM Clothing was founded by Palmer and his business partner; a member of the family Palmer "fell upon" via Airbnb and still stays with to this day given that his wife and two young children are still based in Surrey. Even finding them, though, has exceeded all Palmer's expectations, with a chance meeting quickly evolving into a lifelong bond.
"I went there and they invited me, showed me around. I had a cup of tea and then they said, 'well you might as well stay and watch the Man United game'. Within an hour, I'm sending photos to my wife of me sat there watching the football with their dog on my lap. Then they said, 'well you might as well stay for the roast dinner we've been cooking'. So I had a roast and then instead of going to my hotel, they told me to just stay the night! Here we are a year later and I've never left.
"They've become friends for life. No matter how well the clothing brand does, I've made friends for life. They've become family."
Palmer has spent the majority of his career in the lower leagues of the EFL and, as such, has always had an eye on life after football. He admits he has always had plans to try little ventures away from football before, but launching a clothing brand was something he "always wanted to do".
The brand is a chance for Palmer to, as he puts it, "give something back to a community that has given me so much" since his move 18 months ago.
WXM Clothing has already sold over 8,000 items worldwide and is regularly worn by McElhenney and Reynolds - who have gone "above and beyond" in their support of the venture.
"He [Ryan] FaceTimed me when I was in Vegas and we were chatting and he went out to get his breakfast in my clothes. He doesn't wear it just for show - he actually enjoys wearing them. They know it's good quality and they've been super supportive; I can never thank them enough for that.
"The owners want to be supportive of everyone. That's the kind of people they are. They understand the situation we're in: they understand we need to think about the future. Rob literally came to us and said, 'if you want to do anything on the side, let us know and we'll do whatever we can to help'. He didn't need to do that, but he does - they both do - because they're good people with good hearts.
"I've really enjoyed getting to know them on a personal level. They just feel like part of the group now; Rob and his wife were with us in Las Vegas and it was great to have a drink and laugh with them.
"People say to me all the time, 'oh, what about when you don't play for Wrexham?' Listen, there's loads of people that I don't speak to anymore that I did 10 years ago. So if I don't speak to Rob and Ryan in 15 years time, then it won't be any different - that's just life. Me and a few of the players have built up a genuine relationship with these people which will always be there."
Given both McElhenney and Reynolds both have a number of successful business ventures under their wing, Palmer already has the perfect sounding board as his business grows. And while he hasn't leant on the duo's expertise yet, the striker does have plans to pick their brains.
Palmer's venture has been helpful on the pitch, too. Wrexham were heavily tipped to win the National League title last term - and while they eventually did just that, having a business to focus on in his downtime helped Palmer from being dogged down by the pressure at the business end of the campaign.
The summer break gives Palmer a chance to delve deeper into WXM Clothing, which gifted shares to the AFC Wrexham Community Trust and is also available in the club shop.
But already Palmer has one eye on next season. The prolific striker has his sights set on securing back-to-back promotions and getting back to League One, where he was thriving with Wimbledon before upping sticks to north Wales.
Palmer has notched 32 goals in 61 starts since joining Wrexham from the Dons, who failed to win a single game during the remainder of the campaign after losing the target man's services. The 31-year-old will return to Plough Lane in League Two next term.
"There's no denying that being a footballer for Wrexham right now is different to any other lower league club.
"I was sold this exciting vision, but my personal goal has always been to get back to where I came from and now we're halfway there. I think we've got a good opportunity to get there [next year]. I think sometimes people don't want to talk about things like that for fear of jinxing it but I don't really believe in that - if I did then I'd be talking about not winning the lottery every day!
"At the end of the day I want back-to-back promotions; to do it as champions again would be incredible. I don't think it would be any harder than this year with the way Notts County pushed us, so let's see. I think promotion is definitely achievable."
Palmer is refreshingly honest and frank in an era where footballers are often accused of being wooden or unauthentic. That can come with its drawbacks, though; recent comments he made while speaking on Ben Foster's podcast about Ipswich Town and Ed Sheeran after he incorrectly claimed the singer was part of the club's ownership group led to a backlash on social media.
"People moan about footballers being robots; my dad has always told me to go out and talk freely and show a bit of character which I try and do. Sometimes in life you're gonna get things wrong and make mistakes [though]."
As well as having bigger goals on the pitch next season, Palmer is also hoping to follow the lead of his striker partner Paul Mullin, who has become a patron for Your Space: a charity that supports children with Autism.
"There's [so many] other things I want to do and it's a great place to do it. I want to get involved with a charity myself [going forward]. To see Paul Mullin get involved with a charity that's close to his heart and that's quite inspiring to me. To see my teammate and close friend actually act on that and go and do something for autism.
"I've got a huge soft spot for children with disabilities. I've always done things, even with friends outside of football, but it would be nice to try and do things with a charity and to try and form a relationship like Mulls has done with YourSpace. I'm not shy to say that what he's done has been inspiring, but that's the type of people we've got at this football club."
Explore & shop the full range of official WXM Clothing leisureware at wxmclothing.com
Get the FREE Mirror Football newsletter with the day's key headlines and transfer news straight into your inbox