First Published by First Call Golf
Jane Spicer was taught the importance of setting goals by her mother, Daphne, at an early age. Those lessons, plus the value of doing good for others, has helped Spicer’s company thrive
If you’ve spent any time within the world of golf accessories, there is little doubt that you have come across the work of Jane Spicer.
Spicer is the founder and CEO of Daphne’s Headcovers, manufacturer of animal-themed golf club covers ranging from an otter to a unicorn to even, yes, a Bernese Mountain dog. Since the beginning, the vision for the company has remained a simple, yet pointed one — create headcovers that make you smile.
To fully appreciate Spicer’s journey, you have to go back to where it all began, the dream of a little girl owning her own sailboat.
“We’re a nautical family,” says Spicer, a native of Phoenix, Arizona. “Even though growing up in the desert, my mom was English and we went back to England a lot, so we spent many, many summers there. Anytime we were there, we sailed. I have been sailing on the North Sea. We always said it was a wonderful diet because the sea was so rough you got sick quite frequently.”
Jane’s mother, Daphne Kronstorfer, originally raised in Shropshire, England, was able to pinpoint the determination of her daughter and decided to position it as a challenge.
“(My mom) said, ‘Think of a business and earn it yourself,’” Spicer says. “So first, it was just the carrots, if you will.”
So, with owning a sailboat at the forefront of her mind, Spicer set to creating stuffed animals, which soon developed into puppets that Spicer would sell at a variety of locations, including local street fairs.
As Spicer neared her 16th birthday, a suggestion to begin creating golf club covers arose and once again, Daphne raised the bar, but this time, sweetening the deal for Spicer.
“My Mom bribed me and said, ‘I tell you what, if you make and sell enough of these, I’ll buy you a car,’” Spicer says. “So short-term vision there, but I did it. I made the head covers. I sold enough of them and bought a little red 1973 Volkswagen [Beetle] that I thought was the cutest car on the planet.”
As time passed, Spicer’s vision began to grow. Instead of goals for specific items, Spicer shifted her focus to understanding financial achievements.
“There were some friends whose dads were just these really cool guys that were very, very successful and lived in beautiful homes,” Spicer says. “So, I went and interviewed them and said, ‘I want to live like you. How much do you make’ and they were nice because, I think about it now, it was a pretty cheeky question.
“And then, they said a dollar amount. And so then, I worked and worked and worked until I achieved that dollar amount. And at that point, I realized that I could make whatever money I wanted.”
Along with the professional successes, Spicer took it a step further by implementing goals for deeper personal growth.
“The joy for me was the challenge, ‘How do I become a better version of Jane each year?’ Spicer says. “How do I make Daphne’s a better version? What does that take? What do I have to do that’s scary in order to grow?
“That has really been what’s pushed me the whole way along. It’s like, ‘OK, who do I have to become to grow the company to the next level?”
Crediting her mother for guiding her maturation within the business world, Spicer found herself responsible for a product that just continued to sell … and sell … and sell.
“For a long time, I sold the puppets and the headcovers simultaneously, but we grew as golf grew,” Spicer says. “It was a whole lot easier selling to pro shops than schlepping puppets at big street shows, although I loved that too on the weekends.”
While selling the puppets, Spicer found herself on the road 100 days a year, so the process of building the wholesale business took her six years to establish.
“I would stop and get accounts at golf courses along the way, all up and down the coast from San Francisco to Austin, Texas, Snowmass, Colorado, everywhere in between,” Spicer says. “And after six years, I had enough wholesale business to come off the road.”
Headquartered in Phoenix, Spicer works with multiple design teams, who work together to implement “Daphne’s difference,” a quality control process that keeps Spicer’s eye on every single design.
“(Daphne’s difference) is going that extra mile with quality detail,” Spicer says. “So, I make sure there isn’t a design that goes to market that I haven’t touched in some way, some more than others, depending on my design team and what we’re doing.”
The quality also comes from an ability to listen and decipher what Daphne’s customer base is looking for.
“We’re just really good listeners,” Spicer says. “Over the course of the year, we get hundreds of suggestions and we write all those down. And then as a team, we discuss them and see if we get one suggestion more and more, then we’ll pay more attention to that. Then, it’s doing some drawings, what do we want it to look like? Then, it’s creating some prototypes where we’re actually cutting and sewing them and looking at it, going, ‘OK, that looks good.
“It might need smaller ears, or it needs a bigger jaw. Then, we’ll create a variety of prototypes and look at them and discuss them and make the changes that we need to until we feel like we’ve really achieved our goal.”
According to Spicer, Daphne’s Headcovers can now be found in the golf bags of over 200 touring pros. The most famous, though, may be the black-and-orange-striped Tiger headcover, “Frank,” that has been in Tiger Woods’ bag since at least 1995 when the 15-time major champion was still an amateur.
In addition to the continued success of the headcover sales, one of Spicer’s latest ventures is doing its part to keep the memory of her mother, who died in 1996, alive.
Working alongside Golf for Africa, an organization founded by golf Hall of Famer Betsy King, Daphne’s Headcovers has taken on the task of helping to build a water well in Zambia, Africa and Spicer plans to be there for the groundbreaking in June.
“I know that would’ve meant the world to (Daphne),” she says. “Our core value is we must do good while we’re doing well. When we do really meaningful things like that, the first thing I think about is, ‘I think mom would be proud.’”