KINONA isn’t just a golf apparel brand. It’s the sum of all parts of a friendship, one that goes all the way back to the late 80s (dating ourselves, yes — but we’ve earned these years!)
We — Tami and Dianne, the co-founders of KINONA — met as product managers at Eddie Bauer. We headed up the men’s woven shirt category, at the time buying 100,000+ units of flannel shirts, Oxford shirts, seersucker shirts, and so on. Together we’d travel to factories in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, The Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka, often just staying a night in each location so we could get back to our families ASAP.
While we’d like to say that these trips to middle-of-nowhere factories always went according to plan, there were plenty of what we’ll call “colorful” moments. There was that time that we had a flat tire in rural Taiwan — our driver was eventually able to fix it, but we ended up missing half of our appointments that day. Or the visits we’d make to Booneville, Mississippi, back when some manufacturing was still happening in the U.S. Let’s just say, it was very out of the ordinary to see two women showing up to oversee factory production down south rather than visiting fashionable 7th Avenue showrooms in New York. But when you have 10,000+ shirts to look after, norms go out the window!
We bonded on these trips, for sure — but it was the parallels in our personal lives that kept us especially close over the years. We divorced around the same time, then remarried great guys within 12 months of each other. We’ve both been balancing the needs of aging parents living in different states with those of our young adult children. Did we mention we’re also basically newlyweds? And of course, there’s the business that we started from scratch together — which brings us to KINONA.
KINONA would never exist if we didn’t hate our golf clothes together, too. Yes, golf was another one of those parallels we realized early on. (Don’t tell our husbands, but we’re pretty much each other’s favorite golf partner.) We started playing together in an executive women’s golf league, only to quickly realize that it wasn’t quite our scene, and that’s when the Tami/Dianne golf vacations began.
We’ve played in Palm Springs, Hawaii, Bandon Dunes… the list goes on. In fact, it was on one of these very trips that that our disdain for women’s golf clothes got the best of us, and the “We can do this, and we can do it better than what’s out there” conversation began. (To slip into third person for a second), Dianne had just left her role as VP of Global Supply Chain at Speedo, and Tami was starting to plan her client projects for 2017. We had the skill set, relationships and fortitude to quit complaining about our golf clothes and actually make something happen. It was a now-or-never moment, and we decided to take the leap.
KINONA Founders Tami and Dianne
We did some digging, and learned that most women golfers are in their mid-forties. That’s right about when the female body starts shifting — a reality that golf apparel has overlooked for far too long. The more we got to talking with other women, the more we realized that we weren’t alone in this discomfort. Boxy polos? Curious colorways and patterns? No one was loving them. So we set out to design apparel that “gets” women like us. Our bodies are changing, yet we aren’t stopping. We’re golfing, then grabbing lunch, running errands, heading into a meeting, you name it. No matter our shape or size, we want to feel great doing it all.
And that’s what lies at the root of KINONA. It’s about having fun with your favorite people, doing what brings you joy, and feeling great getting it all done. This entire journey has been a serious labor of love, for sure. But the support, encouragement, and sweat equity we’ve received from so many people along the way has been absolutely incredible. We were lucky when we met back in the early days, and we’re lucky now. The saying “Everything happens for a reason”? We — and KINONA — are proof of exactly that.
Here’s to a better-looking golf game, ladies.