Community drives everything — Interview: Taylor Olson-Freed, founder of Draw & Fade Modern
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Dec. 8, 2022
Golf Thursday is my favorite day of the week. For the past year, I follow the same little routine of mapping out what I want to discuss, I do some research, I write and rewrite until I feel satisfied, and then I send an email to Howard where we end up recapping our week and then we go about our day until the next email thread. It’s a fun process that I’ve grown oh so accustomed to. The community that has been cultivated by The IX is one gives me a sense of belonging, and I hope you all feel the same.
(Editor’s note: Brittney Griner is free, and make sure you are staying up to date on all of these developments over at our women’s basketball newsroom, The Next.)
I think I can speak for my fellow writers by saying that we want the engagement, we want to hear feedback it makes what we’re doing on a weekly basis that much more important. Our community means nothing without you, our readers and it’s important for us to have a level of connectedness that no other newsletter or online community has. That’s what makes us, us.
You all, as Golf Thursday readers are an extension of my golf family. A network that’s roughly 21 years solid and expanding. The golfing landscape can seem so big, but we all know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone and we all end up in the same circle in a twisted way.
Golfers are creatures of habit. We find clubs that work for us and we don’t let them go. We are particular about the grips we use, the balls we use. We tend to play in the same foursomes. Golfers are like Goldilocks, we never like the extremes, everything, down to the tee, has to be just right.
There’s comfort in knowing that other people take things just as serious as you do. That a little nine ounce ball matters to someone just like it matters to you.
I originally intended on writing this piece for Thanksgiving, but I moved into my (absolutely amazing) new apartment in Brooklyn on Black Friday, so my mind was a bit scattered. My move was as smooth as I think moving can be. My roommate is an old friend from high school, whose boss connected us with our realtor, who had known our landlord for years, and the street we live on consists of our landlord’s family and in-laws.
I’ve been moved in for almost two weeks and I know my neighbors, the mail lady, and the guys at the corner store. I have system of people who are here already who have made it abundantly clear that if I need anything at all, they are just a phone call away. I’ve never felt more at home.
I don’t feel like a transplant, lifelong members of the community have made it their mission to make me feel like I belong, too.
My biggest fear in moving to New York was that I’d feel lonely or isolated. That even within this gigantic city, I’d struggle to find my people, and though it’s a bit too early to make this call, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m suppose to be. And whatever or whoever I want to find, I can.
This was suppose to be a Thanksgiving piece, because I am thankful for my journey. The star of this week’s Five at The IX is the very person responsible for getting me involved in freelance writing. And to witness first-hand how much she and her brand has grown has been a privilege. Without Taylor and Draw & Fade Modern, I wouldn’t be here at The IX, so this is a special one for me.
You all are deeply familiar with my stance on golf being exclusionary, but because of it, niche groups within the greater community have formed.
Taylor approached me at the end of last summer with the chance to be a part of her community blog. A space where women in golf can refer back to as we experience a lot of the same things. It was my first taste at not only building my golfing community, but one for writing too.
I would bounce ideas off of Taylor and our mutual friend Sarah Kellam, and they’d tell me that it didn’t matter how I said it, I just needed to say it. We’d only a couple conversations, but their lasting impact has shaped my outlook as a writer. They both taught me that the narrative is what matters, building a story that people can connect too is vital.
They are the reason so many of my pieces aren’t your typical analytical, reporting format. There’s a beginning, middle, and end because you can go to any publication and get the basic highlights. I have more to offer than that, and you as readers deserve more than that.
Community is what drives everything. We are better people because of who we spend time with, who we give our energy to. I am a better person because of you all, so thank you for joining me every Thursday, and I’ll see you next time.
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This week in women’s golf
If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at email@example.com ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!
Epson Tour News
I will break down all Q Series drama next week, but this is what you need to know going into the final push for 2023 playing cards. Starting with the drama in Mobile…
Week one recap
The final stretch…
A total of 75 players advanced to the second week in Dothan, Ala. and will tee it up at Highland Oaks Golf Course from December 8-11. Scores are cumulative throughout the two weeks, with Lauren Hartlage leading the field at 14-under after week one.
Five at The IX: A year later, a conversation with Draw & Fade Modern’s founder Taylor Olson Freed
Last August my predecessor, Sarah Kellam, chatted with Taylor Olson (now Taylor Olson Freed) founder of Draw & Fade Modern. A golf apparel brand made for women by a woman.
The last time The IX heard from Taylor, D&F was on the cusp of releasing their apparel collection and expanding their brand. She has also gotten married and welcomed her son Hudson Oliver into the world (his adorable face was a happy surprise on our zoom call)!
In this week’s theme of community and connectedness, I thought that bringing Taylor back into our orbit would bid well for the sake of continuity. Because without Taylor, I would have never met Sarah, and without Sarah I wouldn’t have The IX.
The last time The IX readers heard from you, you were in the process of releasing apparel. In a little over a year, you now have a strew of apparel available, what has been the process of developing quality golf apparel for women?
Yeah, I mean, the development of the apparel was super tough for us, especially during the timeframe that we’re doing it. Initially we were developing it [our products] in Vietnam, and then once Delta [variant] hit the facility that we were producing at shut down for a couple of months, actually.
So, we ended up having to shift and find a new facility to produce all the clothes for us. We brought everything to the U.S. and that was actually great, because it kind of stood behind what we stand for as a brand, in terms of sustainability and everything. And it just made sense to be made in the U.S. and we’re proud to be a made in the U.S. brand.
But by doing that we basically started from from ground zero again. We had to start the process completely from scratch. We went back to the drawing board on fabrics and everything. But still, we were able to source everything from the U.S., fabric wise and look for materials that we really wanted. So knowing that you’re out in the elements, we wanted stuff that was anti-pilling, it wouldn’t sand up to the Sun, it wouldn’t fade in the Sun and also had moisture wicking so don’t have to worry about morning dew or rain or anything. We looked for materials that had good stretch in it, but not feeling overly synthetic. That kind of fake feeling, I really don’t like, so really wanted to have something that had a really good hand feel to it. And we were able to find everything in a facility that’s really close to the facility that was producing the clothes for us. So it actually made it really easy.
But um, yeah, I think me just playing the game for so long. I knew exactly what I wanted in golf clothes, and was able to find that.
And it’s a fair labor facility, too. So everyone gets paid, you know, appropriate wages and everything. And so you know, I say sustainability, but it’s just kind of good business in my head. So really just wanted to make sure that that was checked as well, it was really important to us.
That being said, we do spend a ton of money on the development of the clothes between the fabric and the production being in the U.S., and then also being a fair labor market, or fair labor facility. So we do take quite a hit on the margin, because that’s the other thing is, I know golf is so expensive already between your clubs and your tee times and your joining memberships and stuff like that. And, you know, it’s crazy to me that people pay $150 for a skort, or $200 for their pants. So really, it was important to me for everything to be under $100. And so we definitely take a margin hit on that, but it is super important for me so people can find quality clothes that don’t break the bank.
Outside of your own brand, do you pay attention to other brands making golf clothes for women? If so, what do you focus on? What do you like/not like?
I feel like, like every other female golfer I don’t think I had very many golf brands that I was actually wearing. I was wearing Lululemon or Athleta or something else that was not made for golf whatsoever. And the stuff that I was wearing that was made for golf would just piss me off even more.
I love wearing pants on the golf course so the pants that I did have, the pockets were too small so my golf ball would always fall out because it was like too tight or it would look like I need to go to the doctor because I have something protruding so far out of me.
So yeah, I just hated actually wearing like, true women’s golf clothes because it just made me feel so unnatural and like I really didn’t belong there.
My personal favorite clothing brand is Ralph Lauren. My husband and I love the Polo Bear Collection that they have. It’s where we got the inspiration for The Fitz sweater. He’s [their dog] our take on that. So yeah, I think everything that they do is is great and we really wanted to lean into the high level of quality that they have.
There’s another brand that’s outside of golf, Aime Leon Dore, and they’re kind of more streetwear. But I just I think they do it really well and it’s still kind of like that high fashion but takes on streetwear kind of look and I really appreciate that. And I really wanted the brand [Draw & Fade] to encompass a look of you know, a little bit more tailored but it’s still golf clothes that you that you could feel good wearing. It’s kind of more of like a put together look like a Ralph Lauren, but still kind of like that kind of cool, edgy coolness you see an Aime.
What’s the best part of being a woman-owned small business?
Definitely the connection to the community. The amount of people that reach out and just to say, like, ‘thank you for what you’re doing’ is is really rewarding.
And it’s also just nice to know that I wasn’t the only one that was pissed off every time I went to a course and saw men’s tees or ladies tees or wasn’t able to post my score on GIN and stuff like that. So it really just resonated and made me feel like this needs to be done even more so than what I was thinking.
And also since having my son, it’s just been awesome to be able to spend so much time with him and see the development of him grow but and then also take time for myself and work on something that I’m passionate about.
What has been your biggest learning curve since starting Draw & Fade Modern?
Just asking for help and realizing what I’m not good at. Before this, I came from sports marketing, so it doesn’t really translate really to a lot of stuff that I do now. But you know, I’m a bootstrapped company. So I’m doing everything, or funding everything myself.
And so it’s been hard for me to say, okay, I need to put dollars aside to have someone help with building a website that that looks good, or hiring someone to help design the clothes because Lord knows, I really need help with that. So really, just making sure that I am true to myself and being honest with myself and saying, I’m not good at this, I need to find someone who is good at it to help me kind of bring it to life.
And I think that’s, that’s been the biggest learning curve and something that I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable with over the timeline of doing it. But yeah, I think it I don’t know if it’s a woman thing or what but it’s hard to ask for help, and realizing you can’t do everything for yourself. So that’s definitely the biggest thing for me, I think.
What can we look forward to from D&F in 2023?
Well, we are finished developing our second collection of clothes. So that’s going to be coming out probably in summer of next year. It’ll be another pant, another skort but it’s kind of more of a skirt with some shorts hanging out underneath it, one polo and one long sleeve polo. And then we’re going to work on another sweater collection for for next fall/winter. And then just kind of expanding on this golf logo girl that we’ve created in conjunction with Max Machado (@young_dirty on Instagram).
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a golf logo for that’s representative of a woman. So that was really important for me to create. And then when we did create it, I mean it, it blew up like we’ve sold out of our sweatshirts twice now or three times now.
So just expanding that collection, you know, we’re coming out with ‘The Addie’ [Author’s note: yes, I get my very own sweater named after me and I can’t wait], which I’m super excited about. But just being more like representative of women that we see everywhere on the golf course. And then just also putting women in a position that makes you feel comfortable with the golf course.
When I asked Taylor about introducing a youth line, now that she’s a mom…this is what she said:
Maybe getting some golf clothes for kids would be cute, but I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it. I think I think we should do men’s stuff first. We’ve actually seen a lot of men purchasing for hats and unisex sweatshirts and then just getting a lot of messages about can I buy this sweater even though it’s a women’s size? So I think maybe just expanding to men’s if we if we do [expand].
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