Q&A: The Littlest Golfer CEO Kris Wilson
I chatted recently with Kris Wilson, CEO and founder of The Littlest Golfer children’s golf wear. Wilson gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the “mini” apparel industry and what it takes to keep children interested in the game. Cool clothing and accessories, perhaps?
The Littlest Golfer debuted February of 2009. What was the inspiration behind it?
An absolute love for the game of golf was truly the foundation of our company. The Golf Channel enthralled our little boy and we realized that while there are football jerseys and basketball jerseys, there was nothing for little golfers. We decided to create high-quality golf apparel with tour-size logos so that we could reach out to the littlest of golfers and make golf accessible and fun.
Do children need special golf clothing and accessories?
Not anymore than I need any particular kind of ball. But we have certainly designed all our clothes to not only meet the dress codes at virtually any club, but also to be extremely comfortable, easy to put on and take off, and to match anything in mom and dad’s closet for quality. We designed all of our clothes for kids, we did not shrink adult clothes down to kid’s sizes.
How does your brand brings fun to the game and interest to younger players?
Our intention from the start was to make golf accessible and fun for even the littlest of golfers. We are deeply rooted in our desire to grow the game of golf, and have created products that are both functional and fun. Kids and their parents and grandparents love our turtles, Putter and Sandy, and through our books we hope to inspire children’s interest in the greatest game of all.
What things do you have to consider when designing golf clothing for children?
The clothes must be comfortable to wear or kids won’t wear them. They must be easy to put on and take off and accessible for a quick diaper change, or active parents and grandparents won’t embrace them. They must be stylish, and for us, true to the traditions of the game of golf. Finally, we choose fabrics that not only are extremely soft and comfortable, but durable and retain their shape so they remain looking good throughout the day.
What makes children’s golf clothes fashionable?
Kids are much more aware of styling than most people give them credit for. Just watch the cereal aisle in your local grocery store – some boxes appeal to some kids and some boxes appeal to all kids. Children also take hints from parents and grandparents. Kids delight in our logos and see them as being specific to them but still meeting with approval from their parents. We are always sure to keep our products playful and fun, but not dumbed down. We try to build on the traditions that are inherent in golf.
What sets your brand a part from other children's golf clothing companies?
I believe that we are the only children’s golf company that reaches out to children not only through the game of golf, but the lifestyle, the traditions and the wonderful life lessons golf can instill in children. Our characters Putter and Sandy not only make golf fun but also bring children into the real world of golf. Our clothing and accessories invite children into the game and allow them to be real golfers. “Start Younger, Play Longer” is our philosophy. It is also how we look at capturing young minds, and helping to build a foundation for their journey through the lifelong game of golf. You could easily say that our bigger vision is to grow the game of golf.
What new products and developments can we expect to see from The Littlest Golfer in 2010?
Our products will be offered in the merchandise tent April 26-May 2 at the Quail Hollow Championship, and we are getting ready to launch our first set of golf clubs. We were very pleased with the warm reception the prototypes received at the 2010 PGA Merchandise show. I truly think that our clubs will make golf more accessible to 2- to 5-year-olds. Our clubs will help teach kids how to hold a club and swing a club, but they will more than likely just be excited about the results.
We just launched our first book for the littlest golfers, How Putter Learned His ABC’s, an ABC board book that takes kids through 18 holes of golf-related terms.
Another major development for us is our expansion into the European market. Our products should be available throughout the Europe by the end of this summer.