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Movers & Shakers: Tami Fujii co-creates KINONA golf brand for women

Prior to starting KINONA, Tami Fujii and Dianne Celuch would play golf at corporate events and while on vacation.

"We were often disappointed in the golf fashion options available to us," Fujii says. "The designs were bland, boxy and unflattering on most women. We thought, 'Why should women have to dress like men on the golf course?'"

Seeing this as an opportunity, they went to work. By 2017, KINONA was launched with a mission to provide women with functional, shape-flattering, comfortable and fashionable styles that transition from the golf course to real-life — while inspiring women to play their game their way.

"The opportunity that we initially saw in the market was for stylish and comfortable women’s golf clothes," Fujii says. "After we did additional research, we quickly learned that most women golfers are in their 50s. Our bodies are changing and, while we may have once looked great in that short little Nike skort, we knew that we needed something that matched a more up-to-date sense of style that also helped shape our 'new' figures."

KINONA (which translates to “shape” in Hawaiian) builds stylish women’s golf clothing with body-flattering details built-in, including higher waistbands, princess seaming on tops and dresses with slight compression built into the Italian fabric.

Fujii, who grew up in Gresham, Oregon, and is currently based in Bellevue, lists one of the biggest work challenges as scaling a business during the pandemic, "While we started the business in 2017, we launched our first collection in January 2018. When the pandemic hit in 2020, we didn’t know what would happen to the business or the industry. Fortunately, it's easy to social distance while golfing, and after the initial reset, our business took off."

The biggest rewards have included hearing women share stories about how many compliments they get on their KINONA outfit.

"We love showing up at a golf course and seeing women wearing KINONA," Fujii comments. "We also love it when we see our clothes on ABC’s Holey Moley."

"What makes me the most proud of our amazing team," she adds, "is that we have a diverse team of apparel industry veterans, competitive golfers and moms who have just sent their last child off to college and were looking for a part-time job. Most of the people who work for KINONA have been with us since the beginning."

The products are designed to give women golfers (whether a single-digit handicapper or just learning the game) confidence while they play, "Our Italian fabric is our core differentiator, and we are proud to partner with a women-owned and operated fabric mill outside of Milan."

Items from KINONA’s collections are now available at Nordstrom.com, and are expected to be in Dillard’s stores in Arizona and on Dillards.com later this month.

"With Nordstrom, we knew that we would be a great fit for their consumer," Fujii says. "We are a premium brand and had the operational know-how to drop ship directly to their consumers. After several years of chatting with the buyer and the growing popularity around golf, we were very excited to partner with such an esteemed local retailer."

The partnership with Dillard’s came as more of a surprise. Dillard's had seen digital advertising and reached out to the KINONA team. Based on early sales, Dillard’s has already placed a re-order for products for spring, which Fujii finds very exciting.

"While we are a women’s golf brand, many of our customers are non-golfers or pickleballers," Fujii says. "We truly are a brand for golf and life."

Although she works hard, Fujii can easily share the vision for her dream day off: waking up early and taking the dog for a walk, playing 18 holes, and then coming home to cook and entertain for family and friends.

Learn more about KINONA here.

Corinne Whiting is a freelancer for Seattle Refined. Follow her work and adventures here.

Movers & Shakers is a series where we look deep into PNW life for people who are making moves, doing big things, and who are just - in general - being rad. Seattle is full of multi-talented and multi-faceted people, many at the intersection of technology and the arts. How do they find the time? What's their secret? Well friends, we're here to find out. Meet Movers & Shakers; aka Seattle Refined attempting to capture the not-so-secret lives of impressive locals. Have a recommendation for us? Email hello@seattlerefined.com.

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