Sydney Elizabeth: We meet the golf fashion designerMarch 16, 2017 Equipment
The American designer chats to LG's Harriet about starting her own business, her inspirations, and the best bits from her spring collection
Sydney Elizabeth has managed to turn her passions for fashion and golf into a successful career.
Her company specialises in making flattering and feminine golf clothes for women. Her collection is full of funky patterns, bright colours and pretty skorts that are designed to suit everyone.
We quizzed her on what it takes to make it in the golf fashion world, and why she decided that turning pro wasn’t for her…
How did you get into golf?
My grandfather is the one who got me into golf. He had a farm in Virginia with a big field and he would take my sisters and I out on it to hit golf balls. I started hitting balls when I was about seven, but I didn’t start playing in tournaments until I was 13.
How was playing college golf?
I loved it! If I had the choice I would definitely do it all again. It taught me a lot about multi-tasking and it inspired me to start my business.
Did you ever want to play golf professionally?
Yes! When I first picked up the game I had these huge dreams of playing on the LPGA Tour. Girls like Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, and Morgan Pressel were my heroes. But I realised that I didn’t want to pursue a professional career when I started college; I’m too much of a homebody to have that kind of lifestyle.
When did you decide that you wanted to design golf clothes?
I kind of hit that “sophomore slump” most college students go through when they realise that college isn’t going to last forever and you actually have to start deciding what you want to do with your life. I knew I loved golf and clothes so I decided to put the two together.
How did you get the business started?
Getting started was the hardest part —I had no idea what I was doing. I just researched everything, read books, and used the resources at my university to figure it out.
You just have to jump in and not think too much about the little details. They have a way of figuring themselves out. No that I have everything figured out now, I’m definitely still learning!
Did you study fashion at all?
Just on my own. I majored in Business Management in college because I wasn’t 100 per cent sure what I wanted to do. It was a broad enough major to give me the business fundamentals that I needed. I read books and did a lot of trial and error to learn about the fashion business.
Which fashion designers inspire you?
I’ve always been obsessed with Ralph Lauren. When I first started playing golf when I was 13 that was all I wanted to wear. I would wear a Ralph Lauren polo and khakis to school everyday so I didn’t have to change after school when I went to the golf course. Lilly Pulitzer is also a major inspiration for me. I just love her prints, and the story of how she got started.
Who are your clothes aimed at?
I originally started Sydney Elizabeth to be targeted at women and girls aged 13 – 30. But once I got started, I realised there were more women who wanted to wear my designs that technically didn’t fall into that age range. So I decided to introduce our standard length and country club length options so that we could appeal to all women.
What’s your favourite item in your range?
It’s so hard to pick a favorite because they’re all like my babies! But if I had to choose one, I would pick the Darcy skort from our newest spring collection. It’s a turquoise and green print that just really stands out and is so pretty. I love it with the Lexi polo and Skylar popover in sky blue.
What’s the best-seller in your range?
So far this year it’s the Sloane skort. And I can see why, it’s an adorable pink fish print that goes with any of our shirt options.
How many other people work with you at Sydney Elizabeth?
Sydney Elizabeth is a very family-oriented business. My husband is in finance and helps me a lot with the business/finance part of things (the boring stuff!), and my mother is a huge influence on my designs. I have always admired her style and she gives me a lot of good ideas. My sisters help tremendously when I do trade shows and trunk shows (they also double as models for my social media on occasion). And I have a great production team who do excellent work on the clothes. Quality is my main priority and they really know what they are doing. I couldn’t do it without any of them!
Trading in the snow for sand ?… jk I wish. pic.twitter.com/2fuvics23X
— Sydney Elizabeth (@selizabethgolf) March 14, 2017
Can people in the UK buy your clothes?
Definitely! We are set up to sell anywhere in the world on sydneyelizabethgolf.com
How do you now want to go on and grow your business?
Well, I have a couple ideas up my sleeve that I plan to roll out for 2018 and I’m really excited about it. I can’t reveal what it is but I think it will take things to the next level.
Do you still find time to play golf as well as run a business?
To be honest, I haven’t played in forever! It’s really hard to find the time. My goal is to get back into it once the weather warms up here. I’m definitely a fair-weather golfer now!
Who would be in your dream fourball?
My grandfather (who will be 88 this year), my dad, my husband, and me. No worldclass golfers or anything but it would be my dream to get all of us on the course together.
Who is your golfing inspiration?
I would say Annika Sörenstam. She was my hero when I started getting into golf. She was the number one woman golfer in the world at the time and I just admired the way she was dominating women’s golf and how she did it with such grace.
My dad always told me not to show emotion out on the golf course, especially when you’re playing badly. I followed her group one year at the Michelob Ultra Open at the Kingsmill Resort when she wasn’t playing well and ended up missing the cut. She acted like such a lady even though she wasn’t playing her best and that’s when I really decided that she was my inspiration.
What do you love most about golf?
I love how you don’t need a team, or anyone else to be able to go out and play a round. The sad thing about most sports is once you graduate or leave school, you can’t really play anymore. Golf is a game you can play when you’re any age.