I spent over a decade in the fashion industry in NYC. I worked and designed for such companies as Izod and Ralph Lauren, where I focused on men’s golf clothes. For the past five years I have freelanced designing for Katie K Active on a regular basis as well doing work for various companies; anything from logo design to consultations and mentoring start ups on manufacturing. During this time I started to design and work on Meg Campbell Golf which I launched this year with our first season going into stores, clubs and online for Spring/Summer 2017.
THE CAMPBELL STORY
Sometimes the universe speaks to you — sometimes it yells. When I was in college, I was assigned golf wear for my portfolio development class. I was disappointed as I had envisioned artful couture gracing the pages of my portfolio, ready to be shown to potential employers upon graduation. Golf wasn’t on my radar! But then I started to think out of the box. What if golf clothes for women was more than pared down men’s clothes?
What if they were beautiful and the kind of clothes women could easily wear off the course as well? Clothes women would want to wear to their country clubs; on the course or at lunch or brunch; or to work, or even to run errands. What emerged was a sophisticated golf wear line that I was proud to show to my professor, who wasn’t quite sure she understood it for golf but she loved it for its look anyway and I got an A.
After college I headed to NYC; no job but two close friends and a tiny apartment were waiting! I knew I wanted my own line one day, but I also knew I needed to learn the business of fashion. It took a few weeks but I finally got work doing freelance. I started in production — which wasn’t my dream job by any means. But it taught me how to get actual products made, and made well. I learned fit and quality and how to source from around the world. I was then offered a job full time.
My boss told me I’d never make it in design. That I should give up that dream as I wouldn’t like it anyway. That I should take the job I was being offered and be grateful. But I politely declined their offer and started looking for my next job. And then the universe called out again and I landed my first real design job, as an assistant, designing none other than golf clothes for IZOD.
It was at IZOD that I learned what was needed to make great clothes for golfers. The technical fabrics that wicked moisture to keep the body dry; or protection that could be added to protect the body from UV rays. I also learned the sort of clothes expected on the course; dress codes and all that. From there my career within the fashion industry advanced into higher design positions with different companies. And I kept finding myself working on golf clothes for different labels. At this point the universe was hoarse from the constant yelling!
And then my father, an avid golfer, mentioned how every time he was in a pro shop he heard a woman complain about the clothes. That they weren’t stylish enough or didn’t fit quite right. And finally, I stopped playing hard to get and answered the universe’s call and Meg Campbell Golf was born!
MATT WARD: What was the genesis in you launching your own apparel company?
MEG CAMPBELL: It was more of a slow burn — something that took me a while to figure out what and how I was going to do this. I always knew I wanted my own line but it took over a decade to realize how and what I wanted it to be.
MW: What separates your clothing from the sheer number of other companies that exists throughout the apparel industry.
MC: I think the concept itself is different from other golf apparel lines in that the look is less sporty/athleisure wear and more preppy and sophisticated. I like the idea of a more classic look, bringing back a lifestyle in which one dresses for different events and situations. It’s also a capsule collection, allowing for numerous outfits with a few key items. I really wanted each piece to be able to work with any other piece in the collection.
MW: Clearly, your clothing line is created for a special look — describe that look and what type of customer that appeals to when purchasing?
MC: Our look is a preppy country club chic. These are classic, beautiful clothes that can do double duty in your closet. Each piece works for the course but can also be easily integrated in your day to day. Our customer is the sophisticated, professional woman in her early 30’s to mid 40’s who wants her wardrobe to do double duty — allowing her to have a great look both at her club as well as work or socializing
MW: In approximate terms — what is the percentage for your planned sales via retail outlets, green grass shops and online?
MC: My goal is to have a robust online business, although I believe that is something that takes time to grow. Ultimately I would like for it to be about 50% online and 50% split up between retail outlets and green grass shops
MW: You appeared at your first PGA Merchandise Show this past January. What were your expectations and your thoughts afterwards?
MC: Make connections and get a better overall exposure to the golf world — but also get an idea of what competitors are offering. I found what I am offering is a bit different from a lot of other golf lines, and so I also have to explain the lifestyle when showing the line. I thought the show was great in that connected me with people I would have otherwise had a hard time meeting. It got my name out there which is helpful. No matter how great your clothes are — if no one knows you exist — they can’t buy.
MW: You could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
MC: Golf is still a bit old school and male focused. I see the changes starting to happen but would love to see more involvement from women starting at a younger age. There are a lot of scholarships going unused each year for girls looking to play golf in college.
MW: Is it imperative for those in the apparel production business — such as yourself — to have a presence on the LPGA Tour so that the public can see your clothes worn by the best players?
MC: This is sort of a mixed bag for me. Most of the best players are already rep-ing one of the big name brands. So yes it would be nice to have some sort of presence but It’s difficult for most brands to get the best players to wear their stuff — especially new brands such as myself. I think it’s becoming more relevant to have a strong social media presence as sites like Instagram have changed the retail clothing business drastically within the past five years. Instagram is also a wider net for brands to find brand ambassadors that can wear their clothes and post to their pages. These women — while they may not be the best players — have 10’s of thousands of followers and are probably reaching a further influence among consumers.
MW: What’s the most common mistake women make when selecting clothes for themselves?
MC: Size! Women have been conditioned to believe their size correlates with their self worth. So a woman will squeeze into a smaller size just so she can say she’s that size — even though it may not fit that well. What most women don’t realize is that sizing is subjective and every brand has different measurements for each size. As a rule, when purchasing more expensive items buy the bigger size and then have it tailored to you — you’ll thank me!
MW: Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
MC: The best advice — business wise — came from my father. I wanted to leave school and immediately start a line but my father encouraged me to go into the industry first. He told me to give it at least 5 years and take jobs in more than just design; learn the business and how its run and make connections. I meet lots of designers who have no idea how to actually make the clothes or how the business works and they are struggling and being taken advantage of. I never have to worry and I understand the business on a whole.
MW: There’s been a heavy emphasis on customer service recently. Define the term and how you differ from your competitors in regards to it?
MC: I approach customer service on a very personal level. I have been doing trunk shows a lot as I want to meet my customers and get their immediate feedback, and bring them in on the design process. Everyone always pays for market research, but I say go to the source! This way I can find out what they are looking for and what they’d like to see in our coming seasons. Also if they have any concerns or feedback they think I should know. I think that with a move towards more online shopping, you have to offer your customer access to you in different ways as they aren’t always going to the store and getting help from a sales person. Things such as live Q&A’s on social media platforms will be a part of future plans — as we grow – it’s a great way to engage with the online only customer.
For more information go to: www.megcampbellgolf.com
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