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Imagine having to wear a swimsuit on a work retreat
This is exactly what happened to Melanie Travis, founder of Andie Swim, that catapulted her into building a swimsuit brand that changed the bathing suit shopping and wearing experience for women around the globe. We spoke to Melanie in her New York City Garment District office.
You had to wear a bathing suit on a work retreat?
Yes. It was a very cool, team-building, bonding retreat, and bathing suits were necessary to enjoy all of the activities and festivities.
How did you think about what type of swimsuit to wear?
I didn’t want to wear anything too skimpy or inappropriate. I literally didn’t know if I’d have to play tug of war or go tubing. I wanted something conservative yet flattering, classic yet chic, and also sporty. I needed a one-piece. And I dreaded the whole idea of having to shop for a bathing suit with the retreat fast approaching. I wanted a bathing suit that made me feel comfortable and confident and I couldn’t find anything.
What did you do?
I decided to make my own. I figured if I was having this much angst finding something that made me feel strong, cool, and assured for this occasion, maybe other women were going through the same thing. I sheepishly asked my office-mates and they were having the hardest time too! I was so relieved. I wasn’t the only one! I knew at that moment, that I could change how women shopped for swimwear. I was going to make it better! I would create beautiful, classic styles that fit well, and offer them through a joyful shopping experience where women could try in the comfort of their own home.
How did you start?
I created mood boards from advertisements in old magazines and movie posters. Then, I hired a designer and together we designed three styles that checked all the boxes. They were all black and they spoke confidence, ease, comfort, sportiness, and class. They were timeless and feminine, without revealing too much or too little. I then purchased 400 of them and stared at the ceiling wondering how on earth I was going to sell them all. And then I did.
How did you sell them?
Shopping for a swimsuit is a psychologically fraught experience. Joy can quickly turn to misery in those dressing rooms – the three-way mirrors take no mercy! And when a woman buys a bathing suit, it is really the most naked she will ever be in public. I wanted to make it easier. The whole thing naturally lends itself to an emotional experience. I wanted that experience to be positive. So my concept was to allow women to order several styles online that they could try on at home, and they would only be charged for the one(s) they wanted to keep.
No more dressing rooms?
No more dressing rooms! Women browse the styles on the website and pick out what they like, then we ship them so they can try them on at home and see how the bathing suits make them feel. They keep the ones they want and return the ones they don’t in the same shipping box. It is a really simple process.
It’s so hard to find the right fit for a bathing suit.
This was definitely a concern so we designed an innovative fit program to help each woman get the right fit for her unique body type.
What are your most successful styles?
Those sound like exotic beach locations.
All of our bathing suits are named after beach destinations. We wanted the beach locale names to remind women of the adventures they could go on and where they have been. We wanted the names to immediately help them picture themselves in that setting.
What is it like to build a business today?
It is exciting. I am incredibly grateful. I started the business in my tiny New York City apartment. I hired my cousin and together, we filled orders and wrote handwritten notes for each shipment. We grinded it out. We make bathing suits for women, by women. It’s just incredible to me. I had had a career and worked with great companies like Foursquare, Kickstarter and BarkBox and I built on what I had learned from them. And then, I was able to hire amazing women who rallied behind the vision to help women feel more comfortable in their own skin, under their terms, and we were able to build a brand.
Is there a reason why your company is named Andie Swim instead of Melanie Swim?
Ha! Yes. I literally went back and forth on names. I wanted a name that sounded like a best friend. Because let’s face it, when you shop for a bathing suit, you need a best friend, someone you can count on and trust. And I thought “Andie” really sounded like a best friend. So we named our brand Andie Swim.
What’s next for Andie Swim?
Ribbed fabrics! Mesh! Prints! Bikinis! More styles and more destinations.
Women all over the world post how much they love their Andie Swim bathing suits, why do you think they love them so much?
We’ve built a better product and a better shopping experience. Our bathing suits are not only comfortable, but they allow women to feel fantastic practically naked. We have kept our pricing accessible while delivering quality, luxury, timeless, classic, sexy bathing suits. They love them because it feels good to look so good!
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