A Shawnee company is hoping to redefine clothing styles for women who find themselves on the sidelines.
The company is Sideline Chic, the creation of Danni Boatwright Wiegmann, wife of former Kansas City Chiefs center Casey Wiegmann, her Shawnee neighbor Julie Zitlow and friend and fellow Chiefs wife Jessica Lilja, who’s married to guard Ryan Lilja.
The company specializes in women’s sportswear apparel and accessories with a focus on style and offer personalization. The women describe their inventory as sporty, hip and edgy.
“It’s for the sports-loving woman who wants to look great going to the game,” Wiegmann said.
The trio rolled out the line this past summer.
Wiegmann has been a sports nut for as long as she can remember. An athlete during her school years, Wiegmann cultivated her sports tastes while attending the University of Kansas. In 2005 Wiegmann (then Boatwright) won the season of the television reality show “Survivor” that was set in Guatemala. She trained vigorously for the physical competition, and it paid off. Wiegmann has also been a sportscaster for ESPN. When her two sons came along, Wiegmann decided to be a stay-at-home mom.
“But not working drove me crazy,” she said.
Q: Why did you decide to create this clothing venture ?
“We came up with the idea together,” Wiegmann said. “Julie, Jessica and I got frustrated with the lack of apparel to wear to our kids games and support them – there was nothing out there like this. I looked all over the Internet and what’s out there was so tacky.”
Working with a local graphic artist, the women came up with several designs and slogans that play out their fashion desires.
“Once we came up with the concept and told people, they were so excited,” Wiegmann said.
The women financed the business themselves.
“My ‘Survivor’ money,” Wiegmann said.
Q: What’s different about Sideline Chic’s clothing ?
“The thing that makes us unique is the back of the shirt can be customized to the child’s name or any slogan,” Zitlow said.
“Just no wordy dirds or dirty words,” Wiegmann said with a laugh.
“While you can go to a number of sporting goods stores and have a name printed on the back, we have a special font designed for us that’s girly. Or they can take a design and customize it to their school,” Wiegmann said.
The clothing is also tailored for a woman’s body.
The women order the shirts from two vendors and use two local companies to do the printing and add “bling” on the clothing.
The clothing is not just for those who are sports minded.
“You’ll find everything from football to theater,” Wiegmann said. “Rarely do you find a theater mom or a band mom shirt, so we want to cover anything your kids are involved in.”
Sideline Chic has various collections that are focused on tag lines such as “Go cute or go home,” and “Catch the chicness.” The various collections include “Have-A-Ball,” “State Shirts,” “Chic Series” and “Homegrown,” each having slight design differences. Shirts range in price from $19.99 to $45.99. Sideline Chic has a sizeable inventory warehoused in Overland Park.
Sideline Chic also carries jewelry in its “Catch the Blingness” collection, designed for the company by jeweler Kate Mesta of Laguna Beach, Calif. There are also accessories rolling out this fall including purses, hats and hoodies. A line for men will come out later this year.
The company is looking to add a collegiate line; the owners are working to obtain licensing rights from several colleges and universities to introduce the apparel.
Q: With no storefront to sell from, how do you market your products?
The women decided to use a party-planning model for sales.
“We have reps that we call coaches, and they’re the ones that throw these tailgate parties in a home environment, and they sell the products,” Wiegmann said. “They make a percentage of the sales from the party.”
Coaches use a sample kit and can buy other items at reduced prices to add to it. The owners work closely with their coaches, meeting with them monthly to keep them up to date on new products. They have also created an incentive system to keep Sideline Chic coaches motivated.
“We like creating a team atmosphere for our company,” Zitlow said.
Currently, Sideline Chic has about 25 coaches and wants to add more. The company has reps in Kansas, Missouri and Iowa, and some pending in Michigan and Washington.
“We want to be in all 50 states,” Wiegmann said.
The coaches use a 16-page color catalog of the Sideline Chic designs to sell from; the models are Wiegmann, Lilja and Zitlow. Sideline Chic has done little outside marketing other than through its coaches and several holiday festivals. The women will show the line in the Holiday Boutique Nov. 8-11 at the Overland Park Convention Center.
They also have a website, www.sidelinechic.com.>
Q: What’s the division of duties for you ?
Lilja, a former pharmaceutical rep, handles training. Zitlow is the operational person on the team. As for Wiegmann?
“I’m the visionary that focuses on product creation,” she said.
Zitlow said, “Sometimes we have to reel her back in.”
They use outside contractors to help with marketing.
Q: The greatest challenge for the business ?
“Finding time,” Wiegmann said. “We started this to we could be moms and have a business and then it takes off.… But we have fun and we don’t give up.”
And time could be an even bigger issue for Wiegmann, who is hopeful she’ll be chosen for the “Survivor Winners” show that’s being rumored to start next spring. Could a “Survivor” line for Sideline Chic be far behind?