Stick & Ball Founder Opens Up About Her Obstacles and What Keeps Her Motivated

Inspiring Stories of Our OwnersMay 21, 2018 3 min read Ziggy is curious

Elizabeth Goodwin Welborn is the founder and creative director of an equestrian, country polo-inspired luxury lifestyle brand, Stick & Ball. A San Francisco Bay Area resident, Elizabeth is a designer, polo player, mom, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Her brand, Stick & Ball, was founded in the fall of 2011 out of her passion for horses and fashion and an amalgam of her life experiences in the Deep South, the West Coast, and her extensive travels throughout the world.

How did you decide to start your own company?

I came up with the concept of Stick & Ball from my passion for the sport of polo, horses, and the international style that surrounded the sport. Most people know only of big hats and ascots in polo, and the sport is much more casual and international. I was working for my ex-husband at the time, helping him to manage his medical office. It was refreshing to have a creative project on the side, but, from the beginning, I knew I wanted to grow the concept as a business.

What did your friends and family say when you decided to start your own company?

Some friends in fashion advised me not to start my own brand, as the industry is hard work. My ex-husband told me I could not do it and would fail. My close friends and family believed in me from the beginning.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your entrepreneurial journey?

I wish I had a network like HelloAlice when I began! Otherwise, I am glad I was naive as to how grueling it is to begin a fashion brand. It is absolutely hard work every single day, and, in my experience, you have to pretend that it is glamorous!

Don’t just start a company to solve a problem — start something you are passionate about! You will need passion to fuel your energy to keep going.

What is the biggest roadblock you have experienced in building your company?

Lack of resources to hire help which hinders growth. I juggled all tasks until I could afford one person, one day a week; then I realized how I couldn’t afford not to have more help. So, slowly, I continued to add more days every time I could afford another day.

[Editor’s Note: visit Alice for insight into hiring a diverse workforce and for hiring and HR tools]

Another huge roadblock was a very messy divorce, to be completely honest. I share this as I know I am not the only founder that has gone through this. And there wasn’t much I could do to navigate the personal issues but to continue to believe in what I was doing and to try to keep a balance of work, rest, parenting, and moving forward.

What is your best advice for other entrepreneurs?

Don’t just start a company to solve a problem — start something you are passionate about! You will need passion to fuel your energy to keep going.

Outside of work, what best defines you?

I am a town and country girl at heart and an explorer and adventurer in my soul. I love living in the country, gardening, cooking, taking care of farm animals, and riding horses, but I love just as much to dress up and go to San Francisco. I keep my passport and suitcase ready, as adventure always lures me to foreign lands. I thirst for travel and the ability to explore remote parts of the world via horseback.

Who is inspiring you right now and why?

Sir Richard Branson is a long-time inspiration. His creative and positive energy is contagious. When I feel like I have hit major roadblocks or have an ounce of doubt, I look to him. I also read Alice’s weekly newsletter and call my friends I have met through my entrepreneur group. We inspire each other to keep going.

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If you had a genie in a bottle and you could get three wishes, what would they be?

Capital to grow my business, as I am self-funded to date; a slightly bigger flat for my kids and me, as downsizing was a way to continue being self-funded; a few more polo ponies (just a dozen).

What’s next for you and your company?

We have begun to offer products in the resort market (Italian linens and silks) to round out a spring/summer and fall/winter offering, and it has been very well received. We are also launching this year a new travel division for bucket list polo adventures to exotic locations, as we strongly believe experiences are lasting ways to build relationships with your clients.