Nancy Haley: A Stroke of Genius - Golf Apparel Designer For Women Golfers
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Like The Game Of Golf, The Secret To Sportswear Entrepreneur Nancy Haley’s Success Can Be Broken Down Into A Few Key Components: A Strong Drive, Persistence And The Ability To “Sink ‘Em” In All The Right Places.
It also doesn’t hurt to do this all with a healthy dose of style and panache.
Haley, who has successfully started up and run three companies over the years, has also been an avid golfer. After taking up golf in the 80’s, Haley wondered to herself why women’s golf clothes couldn’t be more flattering or stylish. While such a thought may have been a fleeting notion for almost anyone else, to Nancy it was a stroke of genius worth pursuing.
Her determination, and a fateful partnership with longtime friend Clint Eastwood, has transformed into TEHA¯MA, one of the fastest-growing sportswear companies in the nation. The collection has not only brought high fashion and functionality to golfwear for women but now includes men’s and women’s sportswear as well as a vast array of complementary accessories.
Haley’s roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic and maverick business sense recently was recognized by Ernst & Young when she was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” in the retail manufacturing category. It’s an honor that caps a lifetime of entrepreneurial spirit.
“Being recognized for this award by Ernst & Young is like Clint Eastwood winning an Oscar,” Haley said. “This is my Oscar.”
Haley took her first risk when she moved to Colorado shortly after graduating from Michigan State in 1972. She started her own interior design firm, Haley Interiors, which she ran for 10 years.
Then fate intervened on the greens and Haley seized on the opportunity to capitalize on this hole in the women’s sportswear industry. Despite having no apparel experience, Haley started designing her own patterns.
Leaving the safety of the interior design industry that she knew so much about, Haley set her sights on the clothing industry. She knew it was a risk, but she had the drive to make it work.
Sun-Daze was created and Haley’s designs were an instant success after their debut at the PGA show in 1987. Haley left the show with more orders than she could handle. Sun-Daze was a smashing success and the risk was paying off.
In 1990, Haley expanded into men’s golf wear and dropped the name Sun-Daze for Sport-Haley. To finance Sport-Haley’s outstanding growth the company went public in 1992. When Haley retired in 1996, the company was at its peak, reaching more than $20 million in sales. Her outstanding work with Sport-Haley placed her on Golf Magazine’s list of “The 40 Most Powerful People in Golf” along with Eli Callaway, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
An admitted workaholic, Haley’s retirement was short-lived. Just six months after leaving Sport-Haley, she was having a glass of wine with a group friends, including Eastwood. The topic of fashion came up and Eastwood suggested that Haley design a sportswear line for the pro shop at his TEHA¯MA golf club.
“You could have pushed me over with a feather when Clint asked me to start a new clothing company with him,” said Haley. “‘We could call it TEHA¯MA’ was all he had to say and I was ready for my next entrepreneurial adventure.”
Haley and Eastwood were able to put together a line of clothing in record time in order to introduce it at the 1997 PGA Merchandise Show in Las Vegas. The show was the perfect launching pad for the sportswear line and the show was a complete success for TEHA¯MA.
In its first year TEHA¯MA, based in Colorado, reached $7.5 million in sales and has boasted double digit increases ever since. Today TEHA¯MA is a $20 million company on track to have a 25 percent increase in 2004. TEHA¯MA recently expanded its distribution into Canada and Europe and remains the number one vendor at Pebble Beach pro shop.
Instead of creating just another apparel line, Haley and Eastwood wanted to make the finest product they could. Fabrics like silk, microfiber suede, and cashmere are favorites among the designers of TEHA¯MA’s line. TEHA¯MA’s exceptional quality has placed it on the Robb Report’s “Best of the Best Apparel Brands” two years in a row.
Haley is very involved in the design and production of the TEHA¯MA line. She ensures the fit, fabric, and color selections are perfect. Haley’s vision from day one was to create fabulous looking sportswear that can be worn on and off the course. The up to date and versatile designs of each TEHA¯MA line reflect that goal.
Among the many successes of her professional life, Haley’s personal life is also nothing short of a success. Tony Haley was a client of the interior design firm she worked for who caught her eye. Twenty-seven years later they are still happily married. They have two sons Kyle and Curtis. Of course, Nancy still makes time for the one other thing she is passionate about, golf. She and Tony make time to play golf every weekend. One of their favorite courses is at the Country Club of the Rockies near Vail.
It will never be said of Haley that she did not live every minute of her life to the fullest. Perseverance and business savvy have helped her overcome many trials to make it where she is today.