It’s hard to believe that 20 years ago, when Julie Newman was just a kid cheering on Michael Jordan and her beloved Chicago Bulls to one of their six NBA championships, women’s sports apparel was an afterthought. Wait — scratch that. Fan gear for women wasn’t a thought at all.
If you were a woman wanting to wear your support for your favorite team, you simply borrowed something from your brother’s, father’s or significant other’s closet, or you bought the same items a few sizes smaller. Luckily for female fans across the Southeast, a grown-up Julie has taken on the challenge of creating stylish women’s team apparel with her brand, Give Her Six. Just in time for football season, we’re thrilled to chat with her about Giver Her Six, as well as why women’s team apparel has historically missed the mark, the challenges of being a solo entrepreneur and what success really means to her. Welcome Julie Newman, today’s FACE of the South!
Give us some of the history behind Give Her Six.
Give Her Six has been growing in my imagination for over 10 years. Ever since I was old enough to go to sporting events and shop for game day apparel, I’ve envisioned a different selection available for women. My first shirt was designed Labor Day weekend 2015, during a University of Tennessee game.
Are you a solo operation right now?
I’m actually self-funded. I’ve worked in operations management since graduating college in 2007, and I focused on saving and made a few lucky financial investments. I also create all of the designs, myself. I actually don’t know how to use Photoshop, so I create the designs in Microsoft PowerPoint. I was introduced to PowerPoint by going to work with my mom on weekends as a child and playing on her peers’ computers. The entertainment options were Microsoft Paint or PowerPoint, so my sister and I became well versed in both.
I don’t, technically, have any business partners, but I am surrounded by a supportive network of amazing people. My parents manage (and store!) all of my inventory, ship every order and are the glue that holds everything together. My mother’s and sister’s positive energy and never-ending strength are the reasons I’ve been able to participate in any show or festival. My creative partner, Amelia Styles, is my model, constant inspiration and idea sounding board. And the remarkable women I’ve been friends with for years or have met through creating Give Her Six have formed a community of love and support that grows and expands every day.
Where did the name Give Her Six come from?
It’s just a fun play on words. When a guy scores a touchdown, announcers and fans will exclaim, “Give him six!” Why not “Give Her Six!” too?
Your tagline is “Women’s sports apparel you love.” Why do you think some other sports apparel brands that cater to women have missed the mark?
Women want to be comfortable, on trend and show their team spirit. The women’s section of the pro shop seems to be an afterthought, and most pieces are awkwardly cut or adorned with rhinestones. Give Her Six is designed by women fans, for women fans. It’s to be worn to the game or while running errands around town. My vision is for these pieces to seamlessly fit into your wardrobe, without appearing like you bought an obligatory item at the pro shop to show team spirit.
The apparel industry is so crowded. Have you ever been afraid that Give Her Six wouldn’t survive?
With this idea brewing for years, I knew there was something special and unique I could bring to the table. Maybe I’m too optimistic or naive, but I know there’s a gap in the market availability and consumer demand, and that’s what I’m working to discover and define.
What is the one thing about entrepreneurship that you were least prepared for and how did you work to overcome it?
The number of micro-decisions I make in a day has been surprising. Style? Size mix? Shirt color? Ink color? Quantity? Font? Art size? Team? And the list goes on and on … I usually do a little research, prioritize and lean on advice from peers and mentors. And I remember that continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.
Where do you see your brand in five years? Ten?
In five years, I hope to be a go-to brand for women across the Southeast. In 10, I hope to have transformed the shopping experience for women fans and athletes.
How do you define success professionally? Would you say that Give Her Six is a success? If not yet, what benchmark will quantify that success?
I don’t define success as a moment or benchmark. I define success as never being afraid to try new things and to be constantly challenging the norm and going for it. One milestone that I’m looking forward to is the day my parents can retire from their jobs in Jackson, TN, and can move to Nashville to manage the warehouse.
How do you define success in your personal life?
It’s about how many people I can help get to heaven. I learned this one from my mentor, John Coleman. I want to help as many people as I can to reach their full potential.
If you could have a dinner party with any five athletes — living or dead — who would you choose?
I was obsessed with the mid-90s Chicago Bulls basketball team. My dad and I watched almost every Bulls game on WGN. I would absolutely love to hear their behind-the-scene stories, so Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Luc Longley and Ron Harper.
What is your greatest sports memory?
The Music City Miracle.
What advice do you have for women who would like to start a business but are not sure if they have what it takes?
I’m going to share a bit of advice I received from the delightfully inspiring Mignon Francois, owner of The Cupcake Collection: Don’t expect anyone to understand your vision. Seriously, it’s unrealistic and selfish. Get a notebook, write your ideas down and journal about it every day. Pray about it, reflect on it and piece the puzzle together — and when the time is right, you will know.
Aside from faith, friends and family, what three things can you not live without?
My iPhone, Jeni’s Ice Cream and sunshine.
Thanks to Leila Grossman of Grannis Photography for today’s fabulous photographs.
Follow us on Instagram for some of our favorite Southern finds! We’re @StyleBlueprint.