FORE WOMEN: A new golfwear and lifestyle clothing label Kinona is chasing customers with a few unconventional approaches.
With 55 years of combined fashion industry experience between them, Dianne Jefferies Celuch and Tami Fujii have linked up. Celuch has held posts at Speedo, Juicy Couture and Ann Taylor, whereas Fujii has had roles at Eddie Bauer, T-Mobile and Microsoft. After a year in development, Kinona launched in late January with an e-commerce site, select pro shop distribution in golf clubs and a network of “Champions,” who host interactive shopping parties at home or in golf clubs. There were also a smattering of trunk shows and now about six clubs carry the label.
This week, the collection will be sold at the ANA Inspiration LPGA golf tournament at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Celuch said Tuesday. “There is a lack of focus for women over 40, particularly in golf. Ath-leisure and tennis have evolved so much but we felt that golf just hadn’t. We thought, ‘We are women over 40. Let’s do something for this area.’”
Aiming to rev up $500,000 in first-year sales, the pair decided on a multitiered approach to sales, due partially to the challenge of breaking into male-dominated pro shops. Not including the amount each founder invested to start the company, the aim is to raise $600,000 to $750,000 in seed money by June, Celuch said. Dwight Meyer, former president of global sourcing for Warnaco, and Chelsey Owen, board member of the investment firm The Bequia Group, are among Kinona’s strategic advisers.
The brand, which name means “shaping” in Hawaiian, has seen strong sales for $129 capri pants, $119 skorts and an assortment of $99 tops including sleeveless styles, open-neck collars and zip-up ones. Currently, sales break out to 80 percent online, 10 percent at retail and 10 percent via Champions. Those ratios are expected to shift by the end of the year to nearly 45 to 50 percent from online sales, 40 percent from retail and 10 to 15 percent from Champions, Celuch said.
The collection was designed to be worn on or off-the-course. “That’s why our tagline is Kinona Golf + Life. We specifically hired a [sportswear] designer who is not from the golf industry,” Celuch said. “I’m wearing the dress right now to go to the [ANA Inspiring Women in Sports] Conference.”
En route to hearing speakers like Ashley Judd, Ellevest’s Sallie Krawcheck and gold medal American Olympians Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando at the Rancho Mirage conference, Celuch said they didn’t know about this ANA-sponsored gathering far enough in advance to offer Kinona to any of the speakers. She said, “Certainly in the future — we’re very optimistic.”