Kathy Nyman, founder of Rain Girl golf wear, has the entrepreneurial personality.
She’s always had it, even when she didn’t know she had it. How do you tell? When she wants to do something, she finds out how to do it, and she does it. That’s the litmus test. She’s Elon Musk or Richard Branson on a smaller scale. Instead of rockets and airplanes, she’s making rainwear for women. But who is to say that she won’t be the next women’s clothing magnate?
Nyman started playing golf when she was in high school in Tampa. Pretty soon, she decided to walk on to the high school team where she played for two years. In college at Florida State, she did the same thing.
Nyman was redshirted her freshman year and by her last year, she had a full scholarship. She played at Florida State as Kathy Grant, for those Florida State alums in the area.
“I won my very last collegiate tournament, the Metro Conference, which was the last year we were in the Metro Conference at Florida State,” she explained. “I won that by about eight strokes.”
She wasn’t bragging when she said it. She was just stating a fact. And it was while playing golf that she got inspired to start a company for women’s rain gear.
As collegiate golfers do, she progressed in the sport and turned pro, soon deciding she wanted to become a member of the LPGA Teaching division. She was an assistant at The Plantation to Bobby Duval.
All professionals who are members of the LPGA or PGA of America — even those who are not touring pros — must be able to perform at a certain level on the course. They take what is called a Playing Ability Test (PAT) to earn their LPGA or PGA status.
Nyman’s PAT was a 36-hole event, and in the middle of it, it started to rain. However, it was hot where she was, and the last thing she wanted to do was put on a heavy-duty rain suit.
That’s when she had her “Aha!” moment.
When she finished the 36 holes, she started looking for rainwear for women. She found a supplier who had what she wanted, but they did not sell in the U.S. She asked one of the members at the club where she worked to help her cut up some men’s rain pants and turn them into a skirt.
“She offered to buy me a rain suit, but I explained I already had rain pants,” Nyman said.
She just didn’t want to wear them. One reason was, really, vanity.
“Rain pants are frumpy, and I’m short, so I never look good in rain pants,” she said. “So, I went on a mission to make something that would be kind of quiet and attractive.”
It was 2012. That’s where the journey began.
“I registered the name in March of 2013,” she noted about Rain Girl. “So, 2013 was sort of prototyping and searching for a manufacturer, and then I got my first shipment in 2014, in February. Just the skirts.”
Along the way she had to learn about water-resistant and waterproof standards in the clothing industry. Rain Girl clothing is a waterproof polyester.
“It’s Teflon-coated so it makes it a lot softer,” she explained. “As far as waterproof, it’s not Gore-Tex.”
Gore-Tex is a well-known brand of fabric and manufacturer of a variety of wind and weather-resistant and waterproof clothing. It’s made by a process of laminating three layers of different materials together. However, there are waterproof fabrics and fabric treatments that are not Gore-Tex.
According to Nyman, tests for water resistance and waterproof comprise a range of numbers.
“They have the range of 0 to 5,000 is water resistant, and 5,000 and up is waterproof,” she explained. “All my things are right at 5,000.”
After skirts, she added jackets. They are the half-sleeve style jackets that are popular because they don’t restrict movement as much as the full sleeve.
Her next move was adding reversibility to the skirts. Those arrived in November 2014.
“Then after that, I wanted a rain hat that could go over a golf hat because I always try to put my FootJoy hat over my visor because I don’t want to have to change my headgear, and it [the FootJoy hat] wasn’t long enough,” she said. “So, that next year, I started researching rain hats.”
From idea phase in 2012 to 2015, she went from zero to manufacturing non-frumpy rainwear and hats for women.
“I was criticized like you would not believe in the beginning,” Nyman said. “Every man would say, ‘Kathy, women don’t play golf in the rain. That’s crazy, why would you do that?’
“I would say, ‘Well, they might not play golf in the rain, but they get stuck in the rain all the time,’” she continued. “That was the reason why I kept going forward.”
As Nyman pointed out, golfers get stuck on the golf course in unexpected rain. Here that can be any afternoon in summer. So, the idea of having a rain skirt, jacket and hat for when the drops start falling during a round, well, that makes sense.
“The skirt’s easy because you can just wrap it over what you are wearing,” Nyman explained. “You can wrap it over shorts or a skirt. It doesn’t matter. It’s got five snaps so it’s adjustable up to five inches, three sizes, and they are adjustable with each size.”
One reason the skirts are popular is because of the adjustability. Each size has five snaps. There are three basic sizes, and they all are adjustable the same way. That’s important because if you are caught in the rain, you are putting the rain gear over what you are already wearing. It’s not like the size you normally wear. It’s going to be slightly bigger.
In 2016, she added rainwear for girls because she had another “Aha!” moment. She was caddying for one of her junior students in the U.S. Kids world championship at Pinehurst when it started raining.
“There are a lot of little girls that play on the U.S. Kids (Tour), and they don’t really have rain gear, so that’s one reason I thought of them,” Nyman continued. “It rains every year in Pinehurst [at that tournament], so I kind of thought there was an opportunity there.”
These days, Rain Girl can be found in about 30 country clubs, including Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Sawgrass Country Club, Queen’s Harbour, Deercreek and the Jekyll Island Golf Club. The Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda was her first. She also has an online business at https://raingirlgolf.com/
In addition, Nyman sells to tournaments, and she attends EWGA events and sells to participants there. By the time you read this, she will be on Amazon with a combination featuring the pink/black hat with the pink trim and black skirt.
The sizing is different than with regular clothing, but similar. Her extra small/small starts at a size 4 and goes up to almost a size 8. The medium/large starts at a size 8 and goes up to a size 12 plus. Then the extra-large/double extra-large goes up from there.
“I can always add more snaps if it’s not just right,” she said. “The most popular size is probably the medium/large in the line. I don’t sell a lot of the larger size because it’s not large enough. They’re either small or much bigger.”
She just added a 3 XL to her jackets and looks forward to seeing how it sells. In addition, she has an insulated golf purse that is exclusive to Rain Girl. She’s also thinking about making jackets for boys, but she will have to figure out what to do about the logo.
Nyman, like most people who start businesses, did not know what she would encounter.
“Had I known everything ahead of time, I probably would have been scared to do it,” she admitted. “But as I got into it, I met amazing people along the way that were willing to help.”
Her business advantage, she believes, was that she knew golf.
These days, Nyman devotes most of her time to Rain Girl, but she still coaches the PGA Jr. League Team at Deercreek.