My Story of Launching a Sustainable Swimwear Label

Finding the perfect swimwear that both looks and feels good can often be a negative and daunting experience for many women. I have always struggled to find swimwear that is flattering and promotes body positivity around the pool and at the beach, not to mention the fabric only lasts one summer before falling apart.

 

After noticing this gap in the market, I created a swimwear label for myself, with a determination the brand would be sun safe, supportive and sustainable. A label that caters to the averaged sized women, using myself as the model to test and review each design.

 

Starting the label

Taking the plunge into the business world is already challenging, particularly when factors out of my control halted my progress. Initially, I aimed to launch Ellenny Swim in January this year, unfortunately in the midst of the horrific Australian bushfire season. When preparing to launch again, Covid-19 hit Australia, so I found myself back at square one. It was a really challenging time as I had already bought all the stock but had to keep delaying the launch.

 

As a graphic designer, I have a good eye for design and strong attention to detail. I had little fashion experience and underestimated the difficulty of creating a swimsuit design from idea to prototype. Realising very quickly that I couldn’t do it on my own, I sought help from business mentors, manufacturing agents and garment designers.

 

I feel very proud to support a whole line of women and businesses who are benefiting from Ellenny, particularly through these unprecedented times. I worked with a number of small businesses – particularly women and some business owners and leaders who are also mothers – that helped me navigate the process. I have also collaborated with women models and influencers on social media to help circulate the Ellenny Swim name.

 

lisaswan

 

Despite all of the hurdles, I have started to grow a strong online following, and my swimwear is currently stocked boutiques in Australia and overseas. I discovered the power of social media and Instagram influencers as a marketing tool, which continues to boost sales.

 

Designs for support, style and size

We’ve all experienced swimwear with removable pads that scrunch and fall out, so I wanted to create a rash vest design that featured a secure built-in bra with padding that didn’t move around in the water. It was important that the designs provide strong support in those important areas of the bust and the tummy. I chose exclusive prints that promote femininity and style while also being sun-safe with a UPF50+ rating to block out 98% of the sun’s harmful rays.

 

I can empathise with women of all shapes and sizes that are often let down by brands that don’t cater to them. I’ve always been curvy and have felt frustrated with swimwear that doesn’t fit properly. To make sure my designs looked good and provided support for all shapes and sizes, I created samples in my ‘average size’ and scaled them up and down from there. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average-sized is a 14, so my swimsuit designs range from size 8-18, and my next season will introduce sizes up to 22.

 

I have a matching mum and daughter swimwear range as a tribute to my two daughters. In fact, I have used a combination of their names in the label of Ellenny Swim. I wanted the brand to focus on making women feeling confident and empowered and to feel better about who they are as they relax at the pool or beach.

 

Sustainable and eco-friendly

Consumers are becoming more inclined to support labels that are eco-conscious and commit to sustainable practices. It was really important for me to create a business that aligned with my personal ethos, which is to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

 

ellenny swim august 2019

 

I didn’t want to produce fast fashion that only creates more problems for the environment, so I chose an eco-friendly fabric that was both sustainable and durable. The perfect fit was fabric from Carvico – an Italian textile manufacturer that uses recycled old nylon products such as discarded fishing nets to create material that is perfect for swimwear.

 

As we know, fishing nets don’t break down easily, which means my fabric can withstand the harsh elements of the ocean, lasting longer than one swim season. For at least six months I tested the swimsuits myself, doing everything you are not supposed to do on the garment care label. To ensure my designs were durable and didn’t fall apart, I tested them in chlorine, salt, 45-degree Celsius temperatures and ran them through the washing machine.

 

After years of frustration with big fashion houses that don’t cater to the ‘average sized’ women, I decided to do something about it. I hope Ellenny Swim has helped women of all shapes and sizes to feel confident in their swimwear, like it has for me. No more negative and daunting shopping experiences, instead, Ellenny Swim aims to put the enjoyment back into shopping for swimwear.

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