As we look through the lens of athleisure trends, Renee Parsons is a driving force of innovation and edginess of the Parsons Xtreme Golf clothing collection that is turning heads and threaded with philanthropy.
Making a bold statement is a bit of a family tradition in the Parsons’ household; a household that is known for taking the concept of “extreme” to market with great success. So, what happens when you cross one of the most traditional sports with edgy fashion design? You get a bold collection of golf attire that makes a big statement.
Parsons Xtreme Golf is a high-performance and global brand celebrated for its custom-fitted golf clubs. Focused on expanding the brand’s footprint for golfers and fashionistas alike, their President of PXG Apparel, Renee Parsons, is the driving force overseeing the design and development of their clothing and accessory collections for both men and women. With looks that are bold, fashion-forward and fun she’s determined to help golfers look and feel great in apparel that can go “from the golf course to the first course.” (Spoiler alert…we are huge fans of the collection!) Additionally, her role as a smart woman entrepreneur has inspired her to support other women following their dreams. (Yes, we are huge fans of her philanthropy too.)
Spending time on the most luxurious golf courses in the world is both an athletic experience and one that can elicit fashion as a major talking point. The popular threads worn by the players of the game can be a bit traditional and predictable though, so, Renee has stepped onto the green to make her mark on the centuries-old industry. When she’s not immersed in design meetings for PXG Apparel, Renee also serves as an executive of YAM Worldwide, which holds the sports, golf, real estate, marketing, furniture-making and studio productions of entrepreneur and husband to Renee, Bob Parsons. Parsons is best-known as the founder of GoDaddy, a renowned web hosting company, which he sold in 2011. Renee is clearly a woman of many missions. In 2012, she imagined a foundation that would have a mission to serve the initiatives for which the couple deeply cared for called The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation. Today, they provide global giving to 123 organizations, including, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix, the Make-A-Wish Foundation where Renee served on the board and currently co-chairs the gala, as well as the Girl Scouts Arizona.
In 2013, the couple acquired the Scottsdale National Golf Club and initiated major renovations to help increase the total number of golf holes to 45, the development of a beautiful new clubhouse, and the addition of world-class member villas. It was the perfect project to draw upon Renee’s hospitality and event-planning background. With an elite membership of less than 150 members, extraordinary personalized service is always the order of the day, according to Renee.
When they aren’t traveling and working on their growing empire of companies, the down-to-earth couple enjoys a standing golf date every Sunday, living out their dreams together.
Around the same time, PXG got its start on the Scottsdale National property while working in a double-wide sales trailer that was left-over from the acquisition of the club and the surrounding property. Today, PXG has become an elite global brand serving discerning golfers in 44 countries, elevating themselves from those trailer days to a triumphant business. The company was recently labeled by Forbes as one of the biggest golf business stories of the decade in part because of their bespoke golf clubs that sold for nearly $300. When they aren’t traveling and working on their growing empire of companies, the down-to-earth couple enjoys a standing golf date every Sunday, living out their dreams together.
We sat down with Renee Parsons for a one-on-one interview to hear more about her latest venture, why she feels there is an opportunity to fill a fashion gap in golf apparel in a big way, why the couple will always make giving a priority—and the importance of having a good time.
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ICONIC: What inspired you to design golf apparel for PXG?
Renee Parsons: All of us know that there’s a huge need for fashionable golf attire, and there is a huge market for athleisure activewear. Historically, golf apparel was known as dowdy and frumpy—not flattering. I have a vision for something more modern and edgy. We built the PXG brand about five years ago, starting with the equipment—the technology and the performance is proven. Now we are leveraging the success of PXG to grow the apparel collection, which has to exist at the same level—high performance clothing using the best materials and construction—and fashionable. Our niche for both men and women is a bold, fashion-forward, fashion-inspired line of golf attire, which may not be for everybody.
ICONIC: What do you feel the market will be for this new collection?
Renee Parsons: There will be a huge market for this collection because we are taking a new approach with our designs. Everyone else out there is doing the preppy, traditional, pastel and plaid look, which are great because there is clearly a market for those looks. Our market niche is different though. First, it’s our PXG clients or a PXG spouse, then it’s PXG friends and family, then golfers in general. Next, we’ll reach non-golfers as we see an opportunity with the apparel itself to transcend golf and reach people who like our style. So much of what we are designing can be worn to work, and you can wear it out to dinner, too. My sister, who’s a non-golfer in Michigan, just bought the bomber jacket, and she’s wearing it all over the place because it’s just great style. It functions well, and it’s cute. As women, we want comfort, we want it to feel good, we want it to look good, and we want our clothing to be flattering.
ICONIC: How do men fit into the collection?
Renee Parsons: For PXG equipment, we see our clients to be about 90 percent men and about ten percent women. For golf apparel, we’re seeing more women (trending towards 60 percent men and 40 percent women), which is what we wanted. Many of those women represent an untapped market of people who can grow with us.
ICONIC: Tell us about your love of fashion. How did you get to designing fashion?
Renee Parsons: My love of fashion, my love of golf, being a businessperson, being a modern woman and wanting to have apparel that is comfortable, that feels good on and is flattering is what inspires me. When I was a kid growing up in Michigan, my first exposure to fashion was the “fancy magazines” and catalogs from Bonwit Teller. I would love to sketch women, silhouettes, designs and outfits. It was an interest and something I loved, but then you know how life goes. I followed in my family’s footsteps and got into hospitality, hotel sales and marketing. Bob and I met through a mutual friend in 2007 when I was at Starwood Hotels. I later joined the GoDaddy team to organize event planning, and two years later we married. Fast forward to today, and I’m back in hospitality with Scottsdale National, and I’m back to my sketching—designing fashion for golfers.
One is a fun pleated skirt with an inlay of the logo in a large format and spread across the style of the skirt. When you see it, you'll think, “Oh my gosh, I've never seen that before.” We are also currently designing a winter line, making decisions on patterns, fabrics, styles, and nuances on skirts and pants.
ICONIC: What are you working on now?
Renee Parsons: We are preparing to receive and photograph our next collection, which will launch in the spring. We’ve got some bold designs coming! One is a fun pleated skirt with an inlay of the logo in a large format and spread across the style of the skirt. When you see it, you’ll think, “Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen that before.” We are also currently designing a winter line, making decisions on patterns, fabrics, styles, and nuances on skirts and pants.
ICONIC: Do you have a favorite design?
Renee Parsons: I designed a golf dress inspired by a polo dress. You’ve seen the style many times before as a sleeveless dress done by Tory Burch and Ralph Lauren. We’ve designed one with short sleeves to add the element of sun protection for people who don’t want to have their shoulders exposed. Other little details make the difference, like our logo at the waistband. Logos are obviously big right now. You see it with Fendi and Gucci. This application will be much smaller and more subtle, with a gross-grain band in white or black with a PXG logo. The skirt is semi-A-line with a kick pleat on the side—something just a little bit more fun, sassy and flattering, of course.
ICONIC: From one black and white brand to another, we love your colors. Any plans for other colors in the collection?
Renee Parsons: We’re doing seasonal colors, which we are breaking into with baby steps. Right now, we are introducing one signature and limited-edition color per season—currently it’s this beautiful military green, inspired by Bob’s service in the Marine Corps. His story is in the DNA of the brand, which drove Bob to think differently about how he approached the golf industry. I’m approaching it through different fabrics, different design concepts and different kinds of partnerships that you might see in other organizations. There’s no better color to launch with.
We are looking at limited-edition colors for each collection that would show up each season and then no longer be available. We feel we can give people color but roll it out in a thoughtful way that is in keeping with our brand and our story.
Then, we look at the trends in fashion and on the runway, like the Pantone colors—all of those things inform and guide what would look good on and off the golf course. We’ll eventually have more of a sports-oriented line of clothing, a classic line, a more bold and trendy line, and a lifestyle line. We are looking at limited-edition colors for each collection that would show up each season and then no longer be available. We feel we can give people color but roll it out in a thoughtful way that is in keeping with our brand and our story.
ICONIC: What is your personal style when it comes to golf?
Renee Parsons: I’m probably all of them for different reasons. I like the classic look certainly on the golf course. I can wear these pants I’m wearing now for golf and then wear them out; they’re so comfortable. I love bold and fashion-forward pieces. So, I like our statement pieces. I really like everything. I’m kind of like a chameleon with my style.
ICONIC: What are your favorite pieces in the collection?
Renee Parsons: It’s difficult to pick favorites, but if I did, I would say some of our outerwear pieces, like that bomber I mentioned that is so cute. There’s also this oversized piece; we call it the Safari Jacket. It’s in military green and black, and it’s a super cool design. It’s fun because you won’t see it from any other golf apparel company.
ICONIC: You said you were very particular about the construction of the collection?
Renee Parsons: We look for the finest fabrics and constructability that we can find. We are working with partners in Italy, and we’re always looking at what’s the latest and greatest in terms of the actual fabric itself. What’s the finest that we can find in the space? What feels good to the body? That’s super important. If you’re golfing, the movability and the stretch are critical. I would say that about 80 percent, excluding some of the outerwear that I talked about, can be worn on or off the golf course. We do all the stress, wash and stretch tests on the fabric to make sure it holds up—possibly for a lifetime depending on how much you wear it.
ICONIC: Where can we find the PXG collection?
Renee Parsons: You can find it on the PXG website and in our store in Scottsdale, Arizona. We have locations in Northbrook outside Chicago, and in Bellevue near Seattle. We’re about to open in Atlanta and Minneapolis as well. By February of 2020, we’ll have five stores, plus online. Right now, about 70 percent of our sales are online, but we still feel retail is important experience. You may even see us in a pop-up concept to test a market.
ICONIC: Scottsdale National Golf Club is the talk of the town right now.
Renee Parsons: We bought Scottsdale National in 2013 and since then, I’ve used my experience from my hotel and dining background to help design the new clubhouse, our villas, and all of the hospitality-oriented details that are so important to the experience we present. There was lot of work to get to this point! Today, Scottsdale National is a really high-end premium brand that is not at all pretentious. You can wear jeans in the clubhouse, and we don’t have any of those silly rules that make people feel uncomfortable or on edge. Our goal is to be elegant, comfortable, approachable—a home away from home. We are a place where the service, food, and accommodations are as exceptional as our perfectly manicured golf courses.
ICONIC: Are there women entrepreneurs like yourself that you admire?
Renee Parsons: I love other women-owned businesses and that’s who I look to when I’m thinking about what we’re doing at PXG, like Gwyneth Paltrow at Goop or Tory Burch; I love what they are doing in their space. Diane Von Furstenberg, she’s a pioneer. Those are the kinds of leaders that I’m inspired by and gravitate to.
ICONIC: The cornerstone of all of the YAM companies is the act of giving. Can you share about that?
Renee Parsons: I love doing the programs that we’re doing with the foundation that help build up the future female leaders. The Girl Scouts here in Arizona is definitely a big one that we’re involved with, and it’s very near and dear to my heart. It’s the kind of organization I gravitate towards because I feel like they’re making a difference and hitting the areas that I’m most passionate about: women and girls. Making a difference starts from a young age, building girls’ confidence and letting them know that they can do anything that a man can do.
We do that through The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation with the organizations we serve and support. The Boys & Girls Club is also very important to us. The clubs really fill an important niche in the community, as a safe haven and a place to gain skills to make life better. Of course, it’s social, too. They are just doing great, great work in their space, and we couldn’t be more supportive of them.
“We're not here for a long time. We're here for a good time.” We want to make sure our Scottsdale National Golf Club members and our PXG customers are having a good time at the club and on the course.
ICONIC: So, what’s next, Renee?
Renee Parsons: It’s an exciting time for us. You can expect that we’ll continue to build out these brands in a big way. But most of all it’s important to us to have a good time along the way. As my husband always says: “We’re not here for a long time. We’re here for a good time.” We want to make sure our Scottsdale National members and our PXG customers are having a good time at the club and on the course. We’ve got beautiful apparel, so people feel fabulous. And when you feel fabulous, you have more fun. When you have golf clubs that are custom fitted to you, they perform exceptionally well, so your scores go down. Now you’re really having a good time. All of this circles back to the kind of culture we want to drive in our businesses—an authentic sense of passion and fun. Bob and I share this vision even though we go about it in very different ways. It’s what makes it special for us to work together, and we hope you feel that in everything we do.