June 6, 2009

Design Neither Tasteless Nor For Turkeys

An interview with graphic and golf accessory designer Scott ‘Woody’ Woodworth
Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
click on any picture to enlarge it to original size

Do you design your own styles now?
You know, I was doing the whole search-and-buy thing for about 4 or 5 years. And even then I was getting quite a good following of customers. The business was running itself and I didn’t have to put any extra money into it.

But there were a couple of guys who would order pants like three years in a row, because they were doing some special member-guest tournament at their club. And they’d always want to have their foursome dressed in the same pair of pants because they thought it was fun and their attitude was ‘this is the way we like to play golf.’ And every time they’d call I’d have to say well, I don’t have that size anymore in that style or whatever ... and they’d get really frustrated. I mean, I didn’t put a lot on the shelf in terms of back stock because that locks up your cash flow. Plus it costs money just to store it and that was just money that I didn’t have.

However, these same guys finally called up and said literally, ‘hey DUDE: what is the problem here? You have a great idea but we can never get what we want or we can’t get more when we need to change sizes’ or whatever. Well, this group invited me down to San Francisco to play at their club and we discussed business through 18 holes of golf. They asked me all about what I’d been doing and what was holding me back from growing the business. And at the end, they said ‘this sounds real interesting. We know people that can fix all the problems that you’re having.’

I mean, I knew all the problems. I wasn’t afraid people to tell people ‘this is one difficult aspect and this is also another part that I’m having trouble with, plus here’s an issue’, etc. But these guys just went down the list and said ‘we can do this, we can do that, we know people in China that do that or whatever. We go visit Shanghai once every 3 months, we’ll go talk to some people there.’ And that’s exactly what they did: they found somebody that could take care of various needs and especially produce the smaller volumes I was dealing with at the time. That was in fact one of my biggest problems in terms of finding someone who would make as few as 500 pairs of pants. But they found me someone who could do that and very importantly, they invested some of their own money into the business.

And there I was all of a sudden, working on my own designs for the pants. I would have done that before, sure, but everyone – that is, the fabric suppliers – said I had to order a minimum of 3,000 yards to get a specific design printed. But I mean, 3,000 yards times 4 bucks a yard is 12,000 bucks for one fabric pattern! I just didn’t have that kind of free cash available!

But again, these guys invested in the business, you know, adding some of their own venture capital to get things rolling. And they said, ‘okay Woody, make 10 designs and we’re going to get the fabric printed and made into pants.’ And I was pretty scared! I thought, what if the designs are no good? I mean, these guys were willing to spend their own money on my ideas, so it was really nerve-wracking in a lot of ways.

Fortunately, though, things worked out very well! I made my first design, the pants did sell and I made enough money to get the next design going and so on. Now, we’re ordering thousands and thousands of pairs of pants and shorts per design. And we’ve got to get them here quickly because the orders are just pouring in, perhaps owing a lot to what is the John Daly effect, as you’ve no doubt seen from the
press he’s received recently.

Yes, I see you’ve got a pretty high profile deal with him set up. How is that working?
John is of course a very popular golfer around the world and he’s been playing really well recently. He has been very good for us and he’s a great guy, too. We appreciate all he’s done for us because he’s just a super endorser. In fact, if you if you want to order our pants directly on-line, you can go to
www.johndaly.com , he’s got everything set up ready to go!

I’m just curious though : do you think there’s a taste limit in terms of your designs for these pants?
This relates in some ways to kind of how we’ve re-shaped the business and how my own designing responsibility has grown. Even as recently as last September, when we would go deep into inventory, we were still only ordering a couple hundred pairs of pants or so of each design to make sure they ran and we could sell them all. But now, my partners are supporting me saying, ‘no, this is not how we’re going to do it anymore. You’re going to get ‘x’ thousand yards of a print made and we’re going to make, you know, so and so many thousand pairs of pants – because if Woody designs it, it’s going to sell’. And that’s great, even if it still makes me kind of nervous.

But how far is too far? Well, different people are going to have different opinions. It turns out that our solid colors, or even our most tame taupe-on-taupe striped patterns – both of which I would note were in fact made to get more mainstream buyers attracted to our business – are our WORST sellers. I mean, bottom of the barrel. On the other hand, our previous best sellers were the disco balls style and most recently it’s been the so-called ‘Woody’ style. So now I’m poking around thinking ‘Geez, I don’t know if we can go far enough!’ What I think though is that with this last design we may have pushed the sartorial boat a little too far from the dock ... but we figured: what the heck!

How about that
Motley Crew of cohorts you’re doing business with now? How did this group come together? And honestly, just who is indeed the BEST golfer on the team?
They found me. These are the same guys I mentioned before that were frustrated because they couldn’t find what they wanted, when they wanted it. Again, when they saw that I was ‘local’ here in California, they decided just to call me up so they could get their wishes filled. So their support has been fantastic!

In terms of the best golfer, I can say this with conviction: it’s definitely NOT me! The best golfer is David Halldorson, but he’s a pro. My other two biggest partners, David Suzuki and Larry Jackson, well, they’re pretty evenly matched. On any given day, one can beat the other. Still, if you use the handicap system – and that’s what you’re supposed to do in golf in order that everyone can be competitive – I would point out that I STOMPED!!! Larry last week. Okay, granted, he was giving me four strikes a side but still...

But the bottom-line is that we have a lot of fun. We’re very irreverent (I don’t know if you can tell that or not). We are not serious at all, and I sometimes think we’re being successful here in spite of ourselves! But hey, we’re doing what we set out to do: have fun and maybe make some money while we were at it. And that’s exactly what it’s become: a venture that is VERY fun and that makes good money!

How has your promotion grown and changed since you would sometimes literally just show up at tournaments wearing the pants (changing even after nine holes) or even while attending press conferences?
I would have to say it’s been Larry that’s really pushed it and brought things around. He loves to try and meet celebrities and have fun. And when he does it, he sets out to just plain get it done! When he’s selling and promoting, well, he’s just on fire! I couldn’t handle one-tenth of the travelling and glad-handing that he does.

I think it was 2 years ago when the U.S. Open was in Pennsylvania – in Oakmont – the same course where Johnny Miller won in 1972. Larry had it in mind to go to the tournament and get Johnny – not only who is this great, legendary golfer, but also one of the most popular golf announcers around – to wear a pair of our pants. And gosh darn it if he didn’t do it!! Not only that but Johnny Miller and another announcer both wore them during the tournament. They even made jokes about them ON AIR, on one of the major channels which was broadcasting the tournament world-wide. And they went on and on for about 45 seconds! What fantastic publicity that was! Those are the type of things that you just can’t put a value on!

It’s like our partnership with John Daly now. It’s just how you get exposure and I still think it’s just amazing how it’s all come together.

Do you think this is just a fad or does the ‘Loudmouth’ style have real staying power?
It was a fad back in the early 70’s, just like the whole thing was. I think though when you bring back a fad – well, you’re not trying to re-make it as a fad. In this case we’re really trying to make it an on-going joke that will last forever. That’s what I’m thinking and so far, it seems to be working very well that way.

I think also that by stating who and what we are as well as what we’re aiming to do – that is, instead of just acting like we’re trying to come up with a cool style – well, that only helps! It really works I think to make it that this could be a joke that stays ‘fresh’ for a long time. As such, I think there’s always going to be guys who will want to wear these!

I want to play a little word game: first, what does the word ‘tacky’ mean to you?
Hm, tacky is negative ... unless it’s got a certain amount of quality and you know what you’re doing. It’s only tacky then because of tradition or history, not because of poor taste.

Okay, that’s good ... because my next word is ‘tasteless’!
I would hope that what we’re doing is just the opposite of tasteless. I think that the more sophisticated you can make something that is tasteless, the less tasteless it is.

Then there is just tasteless which is just base, where no creativity, quality, thought or sophistication goes into something at all. And that’s truly tasteless. But if you can make something that isn’t rude or immoral and where you put a lot of thought and creativity and quality and energy into it, it becomes – oh how should we put it – it becomes tastelessly fun.

I think innocent is perhaps a good word for what Loudmouth is doing. This is all just plain innocent, I mean what we’re doing is innocently fun.

Well, now that you’re an official fashion designer, where do you think golf pants ultimately fit into the wide world of fashion, design or even the on-going efforts to try signal for help while stranded on a deserted island?
I think what I’m doing is just putting amplification into a phenomenon that already exists. I don’t know if that answers your question enough or not. I mean, I actually think they look good. I think all I’ve done is tap into a hidden desire by a lot of guys that say, ‘hey, I don’t just have to wear khaki or denim or navy blue slacks when I go to play a round of golf.’

For me, it’s really about the fact that here’s a market where there wasn’t one before. And when you manage to force your way into a shop and get shelf-space, that’s when you’ve made it. And I think this may or may not do that. On one hand, guys may just think ‘well, that was fun, but I’m just going to put on my khakis again and wear those for the rest of my life.’ Or on the other hand, they may say, ‘the heck with it, why is that only women get to wear fun pants? I’m stuck here with my Tabasco shirt or my pink tie in terms of free expression? Well, the heck with that!’ I mean, let’s face it, there are only just a couple of places left on a guy’s body where he can wear something fun!

Is there any thing else exciting you’d like to tell us about Scott ‘Woody’ Woodworth?
I don’t know, after all, I’m a pretty tame guy. I mean, I don’t drink, I go to church, I pay attention to the Ten Commandments and all that. I’m really not all that exciting. I mean, if you want some juicy stories, go talk to Larry... [laughs] But I will say this about design: when I walk around or drive around, my eyes are always open, just paying attention and looking for something cool.

I’ll tell you a funny little story: we have a turkey in our little menagerie at home, as well as a goose, some chickens and lots of other animals. But this turkey, when I walk out my door with any of my Loudmouth pants on, just totally flips out and tries to attack me. I mean, he really goes after the pants as viscously as he can. If I have some other kind of ‘normal’ pants on, he doesn’t even pay attention to me at all.

I’m like that when I go around: my eyes are always on the look out and are naturally drawn to certain sorts of design (ZN: without attacking it, we hope). I mean, the designs for the pants don’t just pop out of my head. I’ll see something whether we’re out shopping or doing whatever. I mean, it’s like I notice all the type-faces on any given billboards and because I know what they are, I’ll call them out to my wife, which of course drives her crazy. But in terms of designing, I just notice stuff. And I’ll basically just ask myself: ‘hm, could those be pants?’


In terms of his bio, Scott ‘Woody’ Woodworth graduated from Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design in 1982. Since that time, he’s managed to make a good living as a successful freelance graphic designer, which again, he has only just given up to follow the Loudmouth venture full-time. Still, if you’re curious, he was apparently among the first generation of Macintosh graphics program users. His first desktop publishing workstation was a Mac SE with a 20 MB hard drive and 4 MB of RAM and cost him about 8,000 dollars (ZN confirms this figure as he bought one at the same time to help write his thesis which subsequently tripled his student-debt).

Today, Loudmouth Golf is recognized as THE leading brand in fun golf apparel for men. Woody also would like to point out that it’s not only men who wear his fashions, but lady pro’s wear them, too. In addition, many celebrities are fond of the collection, including THE
Alice Cooper (we're not worthy, we're not worthy!!) and even football legend Jim McMahon. Still, Woody would however like to confirm that other turkeys in the wild do not react the same way as the family pet does, which he has tested under live conditions (hoping in part to get some more free air time by being chased around the golf course at a recent LPGA tournament). He is, however, convinced that he should film the family turkey attacking him a la ‘Jackass’ (WARNING: this link is NSFW and many other places as well) and put the video up on YouTube. Ziggy Nixon predicts that he’ll sell several million pairs of pants immediately thereafter if he does.

And just to leave Woody with the feeling that Big Brother Blogger is indeed watching him, we would also note that he has played lead guitar since the 7th Grade for various bands including the DC-Tenz, Ersatz, and the Ducks (we are fairly sure this is NOT his real hair pictured here, but those pants are HAPPENING!). It’s been reported that his manual dexterity as a guitarist and his love of music have played an important part in his education and choice of his career education, noting his thesis was apparently based on the question, “Does one musical note by itself communicate, or, like language, do notes have to interact with other notes in order to convey meaning?” (Note: we did NOT ask for an answer to that question!) Despite all of this, he and wife – then a local tennis pro whom he met by trading off some printing work for tennis lessons (when reminded of this, Woody stated that he in fact believes he is still owed a couple of lessons!) – have two sons and a pretty interesting collection of animals, ranging according to one source from a rescued Vietnamese pot-bellied pig and chickens to dogs, cats and a guinea pig. And one psychotic, golf-pants-attacking turkey, lest we forget.


All pictures and images used by written permission of Scott Woodworth and are the sole property of Loudmouth Golf or the professional persons illustrated. No further usage is allowed without written consent of Loudmouth Golf ... or you'll wind up sleeping with da turkeys, gobble gobble!

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