Two things have always been a constant in the life of former University of Tennessee golfer Teleri Hughes – fashion and family.
Remembering back to when she was seven years old, Teleri wouldn’t leave the house if all of her accessories – golf glove, hat, socks, golf shoes – didn’t match her outfit for the course that day.
That continued up through college, where she went as far as bedazzling her Lady Vols’ team golf bag.
And whether it’s her immediate relatives or her life-long best friends, Teleri will be the first to tell you that she has been blessed with a tight inner circle
It’s those two constants – fashion and family – that are at the foundation of her newest endeavor, Teleri Athletics, a clothing line for women that was born from Teleri’s desire to see more functional clothing for girls and women.
The first collection from the Teleri Athletics line was released this past November and features four different styles of skorts.
“It’s really satisfying for me, to have loved golf for so long, to be making something for golf,” said Teleri, who was a standout at Farragut High School before her time as a Lady Vol. “It’s just kind of a full-circle moment.”
“It’s been really challenging – so many ups and downs, going from a student-athlete to working full time on this dream, but it has been so worth it. There is nothing better than being able to stay in the golf world. That’s what I always wanted to do, and combining my two loves of fashion and golf, I couldn’t think of anything better. I would love to do this for a long time.”
Teleri graduated from UT in the spring of 2017 with a degree in marketing, but she knew from an early age that fashion was the career path she wanted to follow.
For a school project in high school, she turned in drawings of a skirt and told her teacher that one day she was going to design her own line of golf clothes.
In a twist of fate, that skirt was the inspirations for one of the pieces in her inaugural Teleri Athletics collection.
About halfway through her college career, Teleri often found herself up late at night, sketching ideas and surfing the internet for how to start a clothing line.
Over the years, though, her inspiration has remained the same. She wanted to create products that were the perfect blend of fashion, performability, and affordability – particularly for girls and women who play golf.
“As I got older, I had more and more trouble finding clothes that fit my personality and also had everything that I needed in a skirt,” she said. “I was hearing the same thing from my friends, too.”
“I would see a skort and be like, ‘Okay, I like this, but where’s the pockets’. Or a skort would have pockets but I couldn’t fit my yardage book in it. Pockets, moisture-wicking fabric, easy to wear … I want to modernize the basics and improve what is offered to girls and women in the sport.”
Once she graduated college, Teleri was ready to hit the ground running on pursuing her dream, but her lack of formal training in the fashion industry meant she still had a large learning curve ahead.
But over the next two-and-a-half years, she immersed herself in the business aspects of it in her drive to create the perfect golf skort.
She went to trade shows as far away as New York – with her mom and sister in tow – and met with textile mills and manufacturers. She enlisted the help of Knoxville-based technical designer Melissa Balmer, who took Teleri’s sketches and ideas and turned them into a working blue print for manufacturers.
“Something that was really important to me was to have a good, quality skort with all these features, that was also something people could afford,” Teleri pointed out. “I was really trying to satisfy a lot of needs that I thought were missing in golf apparel.”
And that was only half the battle. Teleri estimates that after she had the designs finished, she went back and forth with her manufacturer from a year and a half trying to get the samples to her liking.
“They would send me back a complete skirt and I would see how I could golf in it. I let my friends try it on,” Teleri remembered. “The sample process took me longer because I was so nitpicky and I wanted it to be perfect. I just wasn’t willing to accept anything but the best.”
In the first collection from Teleri Athletics, three of the four skort designs have five pockets.
“It has an inside pocket, moisture wicking, four-way stretch for increased mobility, UPF 35, a contoured wasteband,” Teleri explained. “Everything I could fit in a skirt, I tried to. The mesh adds breathability, the pockets are mesh. The two back pockets are deep enough to fit a yardage book easily. They’ve been tested by my golf friends and they love them!”
The skorts weren’t just tested by Teleri’s friends – they were named after them.
There is the Haley Skort, the Blakesly Skort, the Hanley Skort and the Anna Skort.
“I wanted to name them after people who have had a huge impact on my life,” Teleri said. “I knew in college that I didn’t want to pursue a professional golf career, so this was my ‘Thank you’ to golf, because it’s done so much for me. I wanted to give back to the sport and to the people who have been with me the whole way.”
Teleri also emphasized that this journey toward achieving her dream wouldn’t have been possible without the support of her parents and her two siblings.
“They didn’t pressure me into getting a full-time job right out of college, and allowed me to take this risk and go after the dream that I’ve had for so long,” she explained. “We’ve always been a golf family. It keeps our family super close and we can always talk about it and go play together. The sport just means so much to me, and I could never repay it for all it’s done.”
Currently, the first collection from Teleri Athletics is only available for purchase online. Teleri’s strategy in 2020 is to increase brand awareness and get the word out. She already has the tech-pack completed for her second collection, which could go into production as early as this summer or early next year to coincide with the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
Teleri isn’t shy, though, when asked about her long-term goals for her company.
“I want to become a face for women and girls in golf,” she said. “I want it to be the go-to skort in their wardrobe and for the Teleri Athletics brand to be synonymous with golf fashion.”
Above all else, Teleri wants her brand to be representative of an effort to spread positivity and encouragement to fellow girls and women.
“When you purchase something from Teleri Athletics, you become part of Team Teleri,” she explained. “It’s just kind of this thing where if you see someone on social media, if you see someone wearing Teleri athletics, I challenge you to reach out to them and encourage them, or wish them luck in their next tournament. I’m excited to see that grow, hopefully, and just all of us spread positivity on the golf course.”
Teleri will have a booth with pieces of her clothing line available for purchase at the upcoming Nashville Golf Show, which is set for Feb. 14-16 at the Nashville Fairgrounds. For more information, visit www.nashvillegolfshow.com