A graduate from Arizona State University’s fashion merchandising program, Karen founded Glove It, the leading manufacturer of women’s golf, tennis, and active lifestyle accessories and two-time award winner of the Best New Products at the PGA Merchandise shows (2005 and 2010). After living and working for several years in New York City, Karen returned to Arizona in where she opened Glove It’s headquarters in Scottsdale. Prior to Glove It, Karen owned and operated Regalia Accessory Co. for 18 years traveling worldwide buying and designing clothing and accessories.
THE GLEASON STORY –
As someone who has had a passion for fashion my entire life, I was with friends on a girls’ golf outing and struck by the overriding need for functional, yet fashionable golf accessories. At Regalia, we would conduct seminars for women on how to accessorize to
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
The bottom line is I love what I do. Whether I’m designing new products, getting a first look at our new product deliveries, working with my talented team, or making a sales presentation, I never know what’s in store for me. When it’s your baby, and you created it, the opportunities that arise every day are endless. It’s all about loving what you do.
What were Glove It’s early days like?
I thought Glove It would be a fun hobby and I could handle it working out of my house. That didn’t last long, however! The first PGA Show I did was in the fall of 2002 and my display consisted of 12 gloves laying on a table! At the time, I still had Regalia so things were just getting started with Glove It. But from there, I got a few orders, started shipping them out, and kept adding products based on the demand. When I received the Nicole Miller license in 2009, that’s when I took the leap and added golf bags, which is what propelled me to the next level.
How does Glove It separate itself from your competition?
Glove It’s niche is more of a boutique, designer feel rather than your conventional product offering. We play off their own personality. The whole concept behind Glove it is an a-la-carte menu of matching accessories — you can get the leather glove, to match your visor and add club covers, a shoe bag, and towel to complete or complement your golf bag. Our collections are what separates us from the competition. Rather than buying individual items, which drives our competition, Glove It focuses on the collections, giving our customers the opportunity to put it all together, or even mix-and match.
Define the word style and what it means in 2019.
Style to me is the distinctive way a person or product is set apart from others — an expression of one’s individual design. I think 2019 encourages everyone to embraces their own styles and for golf, styles are geared toward a more active lifestyle with lively colors and functional designs.
What distinguishes ‘Baby Boomer’ women versus ‘Millennial’ women in terms of what items motivate their buying decisions?
For us at Glove It, it’s their shopping preferences. Even though our Baby Boomer customers buy online, many of them still love to go into shops. You can’t get enough of the touch-and-feel retail therapy. Whereas with our Millennial customers, they are driven by reviews they read on social media and mostly will buy online. But whether a Baby Boomer or Millennial, the one thing they both have in common is drawing a connection with the brand.
Companies routinely tout the importance of ‘customer service’ — define the term and the approach you follow.
Customer service is the interaction with your customers and defines your company’s values. The golden rule in my book is to treat people the way you want to be treated. It’s imperative to keep that at the highest level. And customer service doesn’t stop the minute the product reaches the buyer’s hands— you must stand behind your product. We have a small and mighty team of eight people at Glove It, and everyone pitches in and helps with everything. It’s the little things that matter when you’re a small company. If a customer has an issue with one of our products, we make it a priority to resolve it quickly and retain their business.
From a marketing effort, what is the rough percentage for your efforts for sales via green grass shops, brick and mortar retail outlets and online?
Green grass shops is 30 percent. Brick-and-mortar retail outlets is 27 percent. Online is 35 percent — we’ve also seen large growth here over the past five years internationally with Europe, Canada and Australia to 8 percent.
If you could change one thing golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
I will take this question from a women’s perspective as it’s all about finding the time to play. Even if it means playing just 9 or 12 holes, the No. 1 thing to grow the women’s game is to get them out there and bring them back. It’s crucial for women to find that block of time they can play and have fun while they’re out there. Pace of play is a factor here, too, as it can always be sped up.
The biggest challenges facing Glove It — both short and long term is what?
Short-term: It’s always about keeping things fresh, keeping up with the changing ways of marketing, understanding how to succeed with social media, and ultimately getting in front of buyers and on the shelves. Long-term: A recent survey we conducted confirms our audience tends to skew to the Baby Boomer. So that means we need to design products that appeal to younger golfers, all the while ensuring we don’t lose our longtime, loyal clientele.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
Born and raised in Aberdeen, South Dakota, I had a modest upbringing. I was raised by hard-working parents who instilled a strong work ethic in me. They were both raised on farms and instilled in us that if you work hard for what you want, anything is possible. It was great advice, and my siblings and I were fortunate to have had two excellent role models.
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