Women golf entrepreneurs change our game
Thank goodness for women entrepreneurs who have launched golf fashion companies. Gone are the days when we wore long skirts and stiff polos that looked like they were styled for a man. I’m dating myself here, but I can attest to the drab, male designed, golf apparel of two decades past. Today there are so many options to express our inner fashionista while conforming to golf dress codes and the need for athletic functionality. Female founded companies are creating innovative, flattering and often sassy designs, while promoting sustainability and inclusivity.
It isn’t easy to break into the market. Golf has long been an industry dominated by men. Women golf fashion entrepreneurs face unique challenges. They take risks, invest time and resources to build successful businesses that meet our needs. This post is in honor of the women entrepreneurs who, with faith and courage, give us beautiful and innovative golf clothes that we love to perform in and wear.
Amy Sport was founded by Amy Lipton in the summer of 2017. Amy’s philosophy is to help women “look, feel and play their best” by creating high-performance golf apparel. Before she started Amy Sport, she was a marketing executive with IBM and had diverse business experience that gave her confidence to start her own company. She feels lucky to have attracted a board with experience in the apparel manufacturing industry and a team of women from pattern makers to women-owned factories with design and production experience. Her brand features exquisite, limited edition prints on high tech stretch fabric, high-quality zippers and trims and is crafted to perfection in the USA. To Amy, nothing feels better than when a client says “I got my new Amy Sport and I love it. When I wear it, everyone compliments me.” Her advice to women entrepreneurs: “What matters most is having passion, patience, perseverance and purpose.” Check out our collection of Amy Sport here: Amy Sport
Belyn Key CEO Betsy Rittenhouse credits her co-founder Lynne Kaltman for pushing their new company forward six years ago. Betsy had a decade of experience in the apparel industry with lots of contacts and smarts. The company is extremely relevant to the changing landscape of who is playing golf, and how women are dressing on and off the course. Belyn Key is classic and contemporary, with a strong crossover component. They pride themselves on having a broad assortment of styles and intentionally offer options that allow customers to wear separate clothes from the same collection, and look totally different. I love that! Betsy offers sound advice for women entrepreneurs: Put your head down, and don’t take no for an answer. Being raised by a single mother, she was told: “There is nothing you can’t do so you need to be willing and excited to figure it out!” We are so glad she did. Our Belyn Key collection is found here: Belyn Key
Golftini owner and designer Susan Hess began selling unique, beautiful golf skorts over 18 years ago without a background in business or design. She wanted a skort that she couldn’t find so she set out to the fashion district in New York city and found a sample maker to make her one. That sample maker told her where to buy fabric, and the fabric person told her where to buy buttons and she walked by a ribbon store and trimmed the skort in ribbon. A lack of knowledge and time scarcity (raising 3 young boys) did not stop her from achieving success. Today she is one of the most popular boutique brands for golf apparel in the industry. Hess likes “statement” pieces mixed in with basics. The tops are solid and bottoms are the fun printed and patterned part. Her advice to other women: “You don’t have to have the perfect plan to start, just start. You need to shift and pivot and pay attention to change and change with it.” Golftini collection.
Jofit founder and CEO Joanne Cloak was a physical education teacher and mother of three who struggled for the right fit in fitness wear and golf apparel. She planned to use her summer down time to start a small company out of her garage. She launched a “better fit” in golf apparel brand in 2007 at the PGA show and never went back to teaching. Then and today (sixteen years later) throngs of women are looking for Jofit’s flattering, comfortable fit! There were more challenges than she could count but the biggest was finding a mill and factory. Now she says, she has one “that has our fit and body blocks down to a science.” Her fashion philosophy is to cover what you want to cover and show what you want to show. Don’t fuss, pull, tug in your apparel. “We want our sisters to be comfortable and have fun with your friends while looking damn great!” I’d say they certainly do. Our Jofit collection
Kinona co-founders Dianne Celuch and Tami Fujii met as product managers working at Eddie Bauer and both had decades of experience in apparel and technology. Inspired by a lack of women’s golf clothing that suited their sense of style, they entered the market five years ago. Their biggest challenge came during Covid. “The uncertainty and nervousness in the market was palpable. We would have never thought we would grow as much as we did during that time. We are an inherently a “scrappy” brand and having that mindset helped us weather the storm” explains Tami. Kinona means “shape” in Hawaiian. Everything they design has shape flattering details built in. Bottoms for example, have wider waistbands to help make you feel “sucked in” (i.e., no muffin top). Kinona is known for beautiful Italian fabric that is performance based (while many competitors use a polyester blend). They want women golfers to feel like they belong on the course regardless of ability. Their advice to women entrepreneurs: “It is never too late to realize your dreams. You need to have great mentors, a great network, good financial backing, and very thick skin.” Kinona Collection
Lohla Sport surfaced when German brand Golfino sold to a British company and focused their sales efforts to Europe. Lisa O’Hurley, who ran the Golfino business in the US for seven years, did not stand still. She developed Lohla Sport with a team made up entirely of Golfino talent. Her customers wanted a great premium ladies line to replace Golfino at their country clubs. She circled the wagon and brought together her favorite designer, sales team, customers, and manufacturers to develop Lohla Sport. Lisa’s new company caters to a lady who enjoys a certain taste of apparel with outstanding fabrics and versatility. Her designs are European with a Los Angeles flair. Her buyers can play golf, go to work, and attend social activities, all in the same outfit. The Lohla mantra is “Made for play.” As for women entrepreneurs, she says, “Go with your gut feeling, if you love something, odds are that others will love it too.” Lohla Sport Collection
Tzu Tzu founder Lisa Krosschell is a tall and lanky woman golfer who wanted to look feminine on the course. She enjoys fashion so she was inspired to combine her passions into her company which she started eleven years ago, on a cocktail napkin! Raised by a “fashionista” mother, she has a love and appreciation for beautiful clothing. Lisa majored in retail merchandising and has a great understanding of textiles. She is the diva of sassy, with her eye-catching embellishments, spicy details and flattering fit. Her biggest challenge was that she started something different than what ladies were used to for golf clothing. She offered shorter skorts, and fitted racer-back tops, so there was uncertainty from buyers on how it would go. Success followed and she blazed the trail for all the other lines that followed suit. Her fashion philosophy is that she has no desire to blend into the crowd, and she brings that to Tzu Tzu and the ladies who wear it. Her advice to women entrepreneurs: “You’ve got to believe in yourself and your product. If you believe in it, other people will too.” Tzu Tzu Collection
My appreciation to these talented and hard-working women who create the high-quality, stylish and functional golf apparel that we love and our kudos to them for their significant impact in the golf apparel industry.