San Gabriel Country Club’s 4th hole – a meandering, tree-lined par 5 with a difficult tee shot that often plays into the afternoon breeze – presents even the best of golfers with a formidable challenge.
For club members and San Marino residents Karen Preston and Lorrie Forgatch, the hole provided inspiration, not frustration.
For it was there in the summer of 2011, they say, that the epiphany fell upon them to create a line of premium women’s golf apparel, a venture that soon became reality and has steadily expanded since its conception into a company
‘Lizzie Driver’ – located in the old Tribune Building next to the San Marino Fire Dept. – peddles their wares at more than 125 locations in in 23 states and three countries, increasing their production to ten times the number of garments from their debut line on 2012.
“Both of our middle names are Elizabeth,” says Lorrie. “And then the golf club…”
“That goes the farthest,”Karen quickly interjects.
“We kicked it around for a while and she began to take shape.”
‘Shape’ – as well as ‘fit’ and ‘feel’ (or ‘hand’ in the garment world) is the reason the whole thing got off the first tee, let alone the practice range.
“We thought women’s golf clothes were so ugly,” Lorrie explains. “And you want to wear something that feels good. At some point in your life, you are beyond itching and scratching.”
Karen did a lot of the early networking and the advice was consistent.
“You have to be different,” Karen exclaimed. “Do something different. Use the Loudmouth business model.”
Loudmouth is a men’s line of golf clothing noted for its bright, outlandish colors and patterns. John Daly is their signature spokesperson.
So the premium brand was born, and not a moment too soon. If the company was going to clear the first water hazard, rush orders were needed in order to make an appearance at the January, 2012 PGA show in Orlando.
“We had to get going,” Lorrie says. “It was tough learning at first, but things fell into place. A path seemed to be laid out before us.”
“Doors kept opening,” Karen adds.
A mysterious character named Hans magically appeared one day, who applied his magic touch to some subpar samples and they were on their way to Florida.
“People told us we wouldn’t sell anything,” Lorrie remembers.
“We came back with orders,” Karen reminds.
“Samples, lines, ratios, patterns – we had a condensed Master’s program in the garment business, but ended up with products that look great and have a fabulous fit.’
“We are very different,” karen adds. “We are frequently told that. Women love it. Lizzie is a lifestyle brand with a different persona, a different fit and different fabrics.”
Throw in ‘attention to detail.’ The line prides itself on quirky neck tapes and interior pocket fabrics as well as their unique, embroidered ‘LD’ trademark.
That homespun approach has even been adapted to their linecard. Early collections were named Fiona, Jill and Dudley – fellow SGCC golfers. Their Fall, 2013 line includes styles called Raleigh, Charlton, Winston, and Roxbury.
See the pattern, pun intended?
Both families already enjoyed comfortable lifestyles and Lorrie claims there is “a bigger purpose” involved.
“Some of the stories we have heard from our employees and suppliers have been very inspiring,” she says, thoughtfully. “We are going down a path. We want this to be something meaningful.”
“We have been entrusted with this company,” says Karen. “We didn’t start it to just make money.”
Buying all their materials and having the final garment completely assembled in the United States – greater Los Angeles, for that matter, will help take care of that.
So being in the golf business gets you out on the course more, right?
“WAY less than usual,” Lorrie says.
“We need to start scheduling brainstorming meetings out on the 4th hole,” Karen quips.
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