Sydnee Michaels had some sketches and a dream, but no idea how to create a clothing line.
It was something Michaels always longed to do. She was voted best dressed in high school and it just seemed like her destiny that she should design her own line of clothes. When she gave birth to her daughter, Isla, and suffered a back injury that forced her to reduce her full-time schedule on the LPGA Tour, she found herself with the time she needed to be able to pursue her lifelong dream.
“It’s something that I wanted to do ever since I was a teenager,” Michaels told the LPGA Women’s Network. “A lot of golf clothes I feel aren’t as sporty as they could be. And my style definitely leans more towards tennis, more of the kind of athletic, sporty look. And I felt that I could bring that to the golf market.”
Michaels didn’t have anyone to turn to for advice on how to start a clothing line. She started doing some research, reached out to a contact who put her in touch with another contact and kept asking around. The next thing she knew, she was put in touch with a manufacturing company based in Los Angeles and then a pattern maker, who took her sketches and brought them to life.
That’s when Isla Sport was born.
“I just thought it was kind of pretty and just something special for her,” Michaels said about naming the collection after her daughter. “Maybe it’s something that she’ll want to take over when she’s older.”
In May 2021, Michaels will debut her collection designed for golf, tennis, and lifestyle.
The California girl says she drew inspiration from her West Coast roots, as well as vintage designs. Her dresses, skirts, high-waisted shorts, and sweaters draw on vintage styles from Chanel and Lacoste and are similar in style to those from Tory Sport.
“I try to design everything very timeless, not a lot of loud patterns,” Michaels explained. “Very simple. Classic. That’s very much my style personally. That obviously influenced my designs.”
Michaels first embarked on this journey more than a year ago. She’s been heavily involved in each and every step, from design to production to marketing. But it’s been a learning process, and she’s made mistakes along the way, which is tough for Michaels, who is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, to admit. That ambition made the process paralyzing at times as she waded into an industry without little knowledge and then expected nothing but perfection from herself. When her business partner used a golf analogy to compare their work to a game she spent her life playing, Michaels was put at ease.
“‘It’s just like a game of golf,'” Michaels recalls her partner telling her. “‘You know, it’s not going to be perfect, and if you make a bogey, you just try to adjust and make a birdie on the next hole.’ That helped me a lot.”
Fabric selection was the part of the process that was most overwhelming for Michaels. The manufacturing company she partnered with in Los Angeles sent her to different fabric stores to select materials. And when she wasn’t sure which to select, she simply looked at her own clothes in her closet at home.
“I like this, I don’t like this,” Michaels said about scouring through materials. “I just kind of started shooting from the hip, ordering samples of fabric. And then I was able to come up with a line of fabric that worked with my designs.”
Michaels’ designs will feature spandex, polyester, and moisture wicking fabrics. She had a major learning experience when she settled on one particular fabric only to learn that it was out of stock. She was forced to pivot and select another similar fabric that was available.
“That was definitely a rookie mistake that I didn’t double check that they have the fabric and stopped in time,” Michaels said about the snafu. “But I was able to adjust and problem solve.”
Michaels has shared a few images on the Isla Sport Instagram account to give prospective customers an idea of her designs. She says so far she’s received quite a bit of interest and positive feedback. The designs will cost approximately $100 dollars as she hopes Isla Sport will be both a high end brand but still affordable. Initially, the collection will be available for purchase on the company’s website but Michaels hopes to grow the brand over the years to come.
“Not to be super corny and golfy, but I’m going to try and take it one step at a time and shot by shot toward my eventual goal,” Michaels said. “I would love to get into a big box store. I’d love to get into like a Nordstrom. I would love to see this really grow into something really big and special.”