Lisa Stelzig Holste was more suited to taming tresses than designing golf dresses.
But a business hook-up with Heidi Heckenlaible, her long-time client at Posh the Salon in Bonnie Brae, has led her to the launch of ellabelle, a women’s golf and tennis clothing line that will officially debut on Aug. 9 at Colorado Golf Club, just prior to the Solheim Cup on Aug. 13-18.
The first “limited edition” series of women’s sports clothing will also be available online at ellabelle.com and at The Mad Russian Golf and Country Club in Milliken, which is owned by Heckenlaible’s family. When the budding entrepreneurs expand into a full clothing line, they plan to sell it in more private and public golf clubs.
“I started playing golf and I couldn’t find clothes that fit me,” says Holste, who’s a size zero, but has had ellabelle pieces made in a range of sizes from zero (extra small), one (small), two (medium), three (large) and four (extra large). “I kept saying that I wish there were pretty and feminine clothes to wear on the golf course. I was thinking, ‘Let’s make some hot beautiful clothes that are more feminine.’”
The business partners took their concept to a designer in Los Angeles who crafted golf clothes in interesting patterns with performance fabric that’s both stretchy and wicks away perspiration. The line includes sleeveless tops, skirts, shorts, pants, jackets and dresses.
The skorts for example, are a short ruffled skirt in vibrant hues of turquoise, fuchsia, coral, white and black, without the typical built-in shorts so the wearer can purchase the shorts separately and in a choice of matching or contrasting colors.
“The shorts are built with two pockets,” Holste says. “We measured cell phones to make sure they fit. The shorts don’t roll up without squeezing you.”
Heckenlaible, a graduate of the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, says the business relationship blossomed in Holste’s salon chair. It’s taken more than two years to bring the clothing line from sketches to production.
“Lisa and I had become friends after I became a client of hers,” Heckenlaible says. “One day when I was in she asked me what I thought about starting a golf clothing line. My background is in real estate management,and I manage a golf course. Lisa had her own reasons for golf clothes fitting her. I had trouble getting golf clothes fitting me. We had meetings and realized that was a niche that wasn’t being filled by other golf clothing lines. We want to fill the niche larger clothing lines aren’t catering to.
“Neither one of us has a design degree or have manufactured clothes before, but we found great people to perfect our designs. I’ve found that if you surround yourself with the right people and believe in what you’re doing, you can make it happen.”
With the initial investment of $100,000 the golf and tennis fashionistas are trying to make their mark in the sports clothing industry. Prices run from $70 to $75 for skirts, and up to $110 or $120 for a long-sleeved jacket. The fledgling sportswear women will have to step up their golf games if they want to sell their fashion message.
Before undergoing neck surgery earlier this year for a pinched nerve, Holste played golf roughly twice a week with her husband, Mark Holste, at The Golf Club at Bear Dance, her favorite course.
Heckenlaible has run into the common dilemma of being a golf course employee who doesn’t have or make time to play golf. “I work 80 hours a week at a golf course. I don’t carry a handicap because I maybe play once or twice a year, but I look forward to being able to play some more.”
In the meantime, Heckenlaible will wear ellabelle pieces that she says can go from the course or the court to cocktails. “Our intention is that it’s golf, tennis and cocktail clothing that has the function that can be used for golf and tennis with performance fabric and pockets in all the right places. Our customer should feel good about wearing the clothes that will make you not want to change clothes.”
Even before the official ellabelle launch, Heckenlaible is looking into the future. “We would like to become a lifestyle brand,” she says. “You become an ellabelle girl. If you’re active, you’re wearing our clothing and wearing our loungewear pieces when you’re done. We want to branch into lifestyle pieces. You’re an ellabelle girl if you’re looking forward to what’s coming out next beyond the golf course or tennis court.”
Tickets for the fashion show on Aug. 9 at Colorado Golf Club, featuring several media figures as models, are available at blacktie-colorado.com. Models include Becky Ditchfield, Amelia Earhart, Corey Rose, Susie Wargin and Denise Plante (9News); Jamie White (Alice 105.9); Kathy Lee (103.5 The Fox); Janet Elway; Jenn Broome, Melody Mendez and Erica McClaugherty (Fox 31); Karen Leigh (CBS4); Amy Lansing, Pam Watson and Lisa Treadwell (wives of retired Denver pro athletes); and amateur golfer Dani Urman.
BELLES: Heckenlaible (left) and Holste.