Talking Shop: 10 Questions with Renwick Golf Founders, Sarah and Pippa Renwick
Welcome to our new series, Talking Shop. Once a month, we’ll pick the brains of eCommerce brand founders and operators about how they turned their idea into a reality, what advice they’d give their younger selves, and more!
On this month’s brand spotlight, we interviewed Sarah and Pippa Renwick, founder of Renwick Golf. Renwick makes classic golf apparel for women using sustainably produced and harvested cotton from Peru. Read on as the Renwick sisters talk shop about what it's really like starting a brand with family, how they secured a great partnership with their peruvian manufacturer, and what advice they would go back and give their younger selves.
The interview below has been lightly edited for clarity.
What inspired you to start Renwick? Is there a story behind the name and the logo?
P & S: Coming from a golfing family, we were always frustrated by the lack of classic golf apparel options for women. In 2019, after talking about the idea for 20 years, we took the first steps to starting our dream company creating attractive, timeless apparel for women golfers.
As for the brand name and logo: Our brand is named after our maiden name, Renwick, and the logo is based on a pair of rams head gold hoop earrings that our mom and grandmother always wore. They are our role models for many reasons, and rams actually symbolize determination and leadership. As two sisters following our dream, the double rams made perfect sense to remind us of where we come from and where we’re going. If you look closely, one of the rams is winking. We don’t take ourselves too seriously!
You both wored a variety of jobs with retail companies before starting Renwick. How did those experiences aid you in starting a line of your own?
P + S: Our 17 years of experience in the retail industry has been crucial to the success of Renwick. We both have a mix of years at large corporate retail companies and small startups (J. Crew, One Kings Lane, vinyard vines, and Draper James, to name a few) where we gained experience in merchandising, product development, brand building, ecommerce, and inventory planning.
Thanks to this experience, we knew what we wanted to do and how to start. The contacts and friends we've made over the years have been instrumental—either as freelance hires or for helpful advice. There are so many women ready to help other women succeeed—we are so grateful and continue to pay it forward.
It's tee time! What go-to Renwick pieces are you donning to look and play your best?
P + S: We love our colorblock skort right now and are always repping our striped short sleeve polo!
Starting a business in the middle of a pandemic must have come with its fair share of challenges. What were some of the hurdles you had to overcome to get Renwick from an idea to reality?
P + S: Where to start! Launching any business is challenging and stressful, add in homeschooling our young children, an uncertain job market, closed factories in Peru, the list went on. We’ve had to pivot (we pushed our original launch date out 9 months) and continue to do so. There are so many factors outside of our control and we are always reacting and adjusting our strategy.
We’ve all heard the pros and cons of working with family, but give us the inside scoop: What’s it really like running a business alongside family? Are there any tips you can give others trying to navigate the same dynamic?
P + S: Thankfully, we still get along really well! We live in different states but talk about 5 times a day.
Pros: We can be 100% honest with each other, we already know what the other one is thinking, and we have different (and complementary) skill sets and personalities which helps. We each own different areas of the business and respecting that is key!
Cons: We’re always talking about work, and the lines get blurred between personal and professional.
You decided to partner with a 3PL after doing the fulfillment side of your business in-house. What influenced your decision to make the switch? How has this partnership helped position Renwick for growth?
P+S: For the first 6 months of Renwick, we were fulfilling orders out of Pippa’s basement. The garage was our “warehouse” and we used a ping pong table as our pack and ship area. The daily trips to the post office kept increasing, and we were having to pack orders 7 days a week. It got to the point where we couldn’t focus on growing the business and we could not longer store the endless inventory arriving by the truckload.
We knew a 3PL was necessary and we wanted to make sure it was the perfect fit. After interviewing a few companies, Nice really stood out. We toured their facilities which were clean and technologically advanced, they were poised for growth and were already working with some great companies. The Nice team is so friendly, flexible, and supportive. It’s been a lifesaver for us, allowing us to focus on driving Renwick’s growth and use their facility to increase our efficiency.
You recently celebrated one year of Renwick in May! Congratulations! If you could go back to day 1, what piece of advice would you tell yourself?
P+S: You’re not going to be able to do it alone. No one does this alone and it takes more than hard work. Be prepared to talk to everyone. You will need the generosity of others so don't hesitate to ask for advice and favors. Even during a pandemic, a digital marketing 180, and a recession, if you have a really good product you believe in, you will survive!
You source your Pima cotton fabric from a factory in Peru that does a bunch of good for the community and environment. Can you tell us about how this partnership came to be, and what the experience has been like?
P+S: We love our factory in Peru! We were actually put in touch with them through the Peruvian consulate. They are a fair-trade company, a family business, and part of the Better Cotton initiative which supports sustainable farming. We talk to them every day and their advice has been crucial to our success. They have nicknamed us The Rocket Sisters because of our explosive growth and really taken us under their wing.
What is something you believe all brand owners should invest in learning for their business?
P+S: Unfortunately there is never a time to rest and hit autopilot. You have to stay informed and be ready to react. We belong to lots of social media groups discussing relevant business trends and how to react, we stay on top of apps and technology that support growth, and we read articles in relevant publications. Nice provides a community newsletter with great tips and videos with really relevant insight for direct to consumer brands! (Ed Note: Thanks for the love, Renwick!)
What does the future look like for Renwick? Is there anything in the books that you're excited for?
P+S: We launched a kids line this month (just in time for Back to School) and we have lots of great pieces coming for Fall golf season!
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