Golf has always been known as the top sport for mixing business and pleasure, but women have often been absent from that picture. However in 2011, more than a few businesswomen have figured out that playing a few rounds on the golf course with clients, coworkers and upper management is an invaluable asset for their careers.
An estimated 90% of Fortune 500 CEO’s play golf. According to Barrons, one quarter of the 25 million golfers in the U.S. are top management executives and a full 80% of that number agreed that the game of golf is an important business development tool.
You cannot even measure the impact a round of golf can have on business relationships which is why women need to play this game. Just ask Condoleezza Rice, Sandra Day O’Connor, Archer Daniels Midland CEO Patricia Woertz and Wendy’s CEO Kerrii Anderson. They are all avid golfers and look how well they have done.
But just because you may be the only woman on the course doesn’t mean you have to throw your style away. That is where Elizabeth Noblitt comes in. She is the founder and CEO of Shi Shi Putter, an online resource for women golfers who play like their style depends on it – on and off the golf course.
Though she started her career in banking and moved into the beauty industry, producing shows and events for Aveda. Her passion for style came much earlier at a young age, spending all of the money from her first job on clothes. It was then that she knew that being able to express yourself through what you wear is very important. Now, Noblitt is known for her unique fashion trunk shows, up-to-the-minute blog, and of course, her online store.
It all started while Noblitt was dating her husband. She took up golfing again to spend more time with him and was frustrated by the lack of variety in golf attire for women. Taking matters into her own hands, Noblitt decided to create a fun, informational blog with some of the top emerging fashion designers of women’s golf apparel. She is now filling another need in the market by selling the garments of some of the smaller female golf fashion designers.
The Shi Shi Putter owner sat down with The Grindstone to talk marrying her knowledge of the beauty industry and love of golf to create her company, what fears keep her up at night and how she schedules time for herself – and follows through.
How long did you golf, and which female golfer is your idol/favorite?
I’ve been playing the last 10 years or so. I played a little while I was growing up and I didn’t play in college.
I’ve always admired Kathryn Hepburn for her individuality and fearlessness in being who she is. As for the LPGA, I admire them all. I think it takes a lot of courage to play week after week with so many talented athletes when so few win.
Did an increase in female golfers also motivate you to launch your company or was it mainly about style options?
When I starting golfing again, I was amazed that I couldn’t find any golf clothes that fit my style or that worked with the other garments in my wardrobe. I hated having golf clothes that I didn’t love and that I only wore a few days a year. I found a few designers that made modern, stylish apparel; but I couldn’t buy them anywhere. So I decided to start a company that featured women’s golf apparel with fresh perspectives. Our most popular item is the Toby Tucker Golf’s Anorak and golf dresses always do well.
Golf is still a male-dominated sport. Did being a woman help or make it harder for you to start your business?
I think it is a very exciting time to be a woman in golf. The industry is making great efforts to integrate and incorporate women into the game. There aren’t a ton of women in the business, but that is also changing.
When and how did you know it was time to turn your blog into a full-fledged business?
I started Shi Shi Putter in 2009 first as a blog. I was doing some consulting work and was blogging in my free time. I decided that I needed to give Shi Shi Putter a chance, otherwise it would always be a hobby. I knew the idea had potential; it just needed my full attention.
What were some of your fears when starting your business and what are some of your fears now? How do you overcome those?
My biggest fear is reaching my customer. Have I created an engaging enough experience to create loyalty? I don’t think you ever check that one off your list. I constantly try and understand who she is and how I can help her be more successful and stylish.