The friendship between Janine Roth and Kim Alessi began from their love for sports.
Roth, a former Division I basketball player from American University, and Alessi, a former fit model from New York City, met playing tennis in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The women quickly realized how much they had in common and soon began playing golf. Unlike many middle-aged women who pick up golf and shyly tell their playing partners that they are “just a beginner,” Roth and Alessi were quick studies and soon began earning long-drive awards and winning local golf competitions in New Jersey.
However, they eventually stumbled across a problem.
“Kim and I love to look cute when we play,” Janine said. “I started to look for golf belts because I like to tuck in but couldn’t find anything that wasn’t flowery or printed. I told Kim, and when we went to different pro shops, we never saw anything that was up to our standards of fashion.”
In 2019, the women came up with a solution.
“What if we started a company that came out with cute belts for women?” Roth said. “We were brainstorming ideas when we met an Italian manufacturer in New York City. Kim’s husband told us to also consider men’s belts and come out with a men’s and women’s line right out of the gate. So that’s what we did.”
And just like that, Alero Sport was born. Why Alero, you may ask?
“Our belts are great for golf, but more than anything, they are lifestyle belts.” — Kim Allesi
“We were throwing some catchy golf names together, but then we started thinking about what we could create that was unique,” Alessi said. “So we took half of my last name, which is Alessi, and half of Janine’s, which is Roth, and combined the two to create Alero. And then we thought, you know, we’re both athletic. We’ve always played sports. We just loved the idea of putting the word ‘sport’ behind the brand because we are women that love sports. The name stuck, and we think it’s got a great ring to it.”
They got their name trademarked in December of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Golf popularity exploded, and their business grew rapidly.
“Our belts are great for golf, but more than anything, they are lifestyle belts,” Alessi said. “A gentleman could wear the belt to work and then go straight to the club to play a round of golf, and then have dinner after their round in the clubhouse. That’s how we pitch the brand as well.”
Three years later, Alero Sport belts are in approximately 150 pro shops across 25 states. What’s more impressive is they are still a two-woman show.
“It’s just the two of us wearing every hat of the business,” Alessi said. “From managing inventory to orders, to design, to distribution, to just about every facet. So really, it’s the two of us that have built this brand.”
“We do whatever gets thrown at us,” Roth said. “We’re just silly texting each other 45,000 times a day. I’ll text Kim, ‘I just spoke to a club. Do you have these belts? Let’s get them together from our warehouse,’ and she does the same. I mostly handle the social media and the financial side of the business.”
As Roth and Alessi discuss their roles and responsibilities of the business, their passion and excitement is evident.
“I’ve handled a big part of researching golf clubs across the country,” Alessi said. “A lot of times, just the old-fashioned way of contacting the clubs or contacting the pros is the best way. We would send a sample to a pro just to get the product in front of them. We’ve had such great responses to the product in the sense that once someone sits down with us and takes a look at the belt collection and sees the quality of the belts and materials, the belts sell themselves.”
If you thought Roth and Alessi would be contacting mid- to lower-tier golf clubs to start out, you’d be dead wrong.
“Right out of the gate, we just went for the top,” Roth said. “Our first year, we did some custom belts for Baltusrol, which was really huge, especially due to the fact that we were a New Jersey-based brand. Matt Cahill at Seminole has been such an advocate for us. We are designing a second custom belt for him. We did a huge event for Baltimore Country Club for their men’s member-member.”
Alero Sport also has partnered with Pine Valley, often considered the top-ranked course in the world, and Los Angeles Country Club, the recent U.S. Open site.
It took about a year for each club to buy in, but Roth and Alessi continued to persist, knowing head golf professionals David Clark (Pine Valley) and Rory Sweeney (LACC) would love the product once they got the belt.
“Our whole thing when we reach out is our appointments are 10-15 minutes,” Roth said. “We’re not going to chew your ear off for an hour and a half. We just need a little bit of time and then, as Kim said, the belts sell themselves once they pick them up and touch them. When Dave finally agreed to meet us, I couldn’t call Kim fast enough.”
Similarly, Roth and Alessi sent Sweeney some sample belts.
“The men’s side is probably 80 percent of the business and the women’s is about 20 percent. We are working to grow the women’s side more.” — Janine Roth
“I just stayed in communication with him,” Alessi said. “It took a year, but he finally designed a custom belt with us. Sometimes you just need to get your foot in the door, but it’s well worth it.”
Roth and Alessi’s primary business is the wholesale market, selling their belts to country clubs. About 15 percent of their business consists of customizing belts, and that market is growing. Despite starting Alero Sport to help women in search of a stylish golf belt, their men’s line remains the bulk of their business.
“The men’s side is probably 80 percent of the business and the women’s is about 20 percent,” Roth said. “We are working to grow the women’s side more. We’ve started doing wedding gifts for bridal parties, and we’re in other boutiques and resorts that aren’t golf related because, like Kim said, it’s a lifestyle belt. We’ve also done some company belts where they gift belts to their employees and clients.”
Roth and Alessi have goals of breaking into the amateur golf space by designing tournament gifts. They hope to one day design a custom belt for Augusta National. Also, they are looking to make additional products.
“We’re working right now on a leather that looks like ostrich print,” Roth said. “And we’re coming out with a belt for women that has a very sleek sporty buckle that’s a cut-to-size. At some point, we’d love to create custom duffles.”
Never underestimate the power of two women with a vision. Kim Alessi and Janine Roth combined their last names and love for golf to create Alero Sport. Since then, they’ve never looked back.
To purchase some of your own apparel, visit www.alerosport.com and follow the Instagram and Facebook accounts @alerosport to stay up to date with the latest product.
© 2023 Global Golf Post LLC
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