I don’t know about you, but shopping for my own swimwear isn’t as fun as it used to be (cue shopping in Noosa last summer and being told by the sales assistant that “mums always have the jiggly bits”… I almost cried on the spot and then remembered I’d birthed two gorgeous girls so snapped out of it). Anyway, moving on...
I adore buying new swimmers for my girls. We just discovered the sweetest little line of swimwear for girls. Introducing Dot Dot Swim, founded by Sydney mum Samantha Otter. We love the bikinis (of course – how adorable), but you’ll also love the sunsuits (basically, a cossie and rashie in one – brilliant). Even better, they’re made using luxurious soft Italian fabric and made up of 78% recycled material, which resists breakdown five times longer than average chlorine-resistant Lycra and has a UPF 50+ rating. We caught up with the talented founder to find out more about the swimwear your kids are bound to make a splash in this season. Photography: Hayley Sparks | Go to www.dotdotswim.com.au
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Real, loyal, driven.
What has motherhood taught you?
Perspective. I used to agonise over lots of pointless things. Now, my focus is my kids, my family and my close friends. Everything else can work in around that (and I can achieve a lot in the wee hours of the morning!). I thought I’d be a natural mother, but it turns out I’m pretty clueless and spend a lot of time googling parenting stuff. That my mother was stronger and more selfless than I could ever have known. She died the year before my first child was born and it was only after I had kids of my own that I truly understood the extent of her love.
What are some vivid memories of when you first became a mother?
Recognising my son for the first time. The first night he was born, the nurses took him into the nursery so I could get a little sleep. I woke up a few hours later, desperate to have him near me, and – call it sleep-deprived or crazy – when I went in there, I suddenly panicked that I wouldn’t know which baby was mine. The second I saw him, my heart lurched and his little face was unmistakable. It felt so strange to have that much love for a little person that had been in the world only a few hours.
Talk us through your career path and how you came to launch DOT DOT?
I have a background in sports/entertainment marketing. A big part of my job was building strategies off consumer insights (sorry, yawn!) and I think this line of thinking is what caused me to really consider the gap in the kids swimwear market. I’ve worked for brands including Vodafone, Coca-Cola, Nestle and Telstra managing sponsorships for the likes of Ferrari Formula One, various football codes (AFL, NRL, ARU) and music properties to name a few. More recently though, I managed the Westpac Rescue Helicopters and Surf Life Saving portfolio for Westpac. I’ve always had a healthy love and respect for the ocean, but seeing the often-devastating situations these guys attend, made me a firm believer in getting kids familiar with the water from a young age – and it turns out I’m not alone – a recent survey found that 95 percent of kids will have swimming lessons between the age of 1-5. Given this huge market, and the abundance of Australian swimwear brands, I was surprised when after having my daughter, at how hard it was to find swimwear that wasn’t either poor quality, overly cutesy or too mature for my (then) one-year-old. The idea of DOT DOT became a bit of a side-project and something I often spoke about with my colleagues and managers. I eventually applied for a career break to focus on making the idea a reality!
Why is DOT DOT so unique in the market? What gap were you looking to fill?
In early 2017, I conducted some research to understand the perceptions among parents, of the swimwear market for 1-5 year old’s. In surveying nearly 350 mums (and some dads!), over 70 percent agreed that there aren’t enough options for this age-bracket, with the majority sighting age-appropriateness and quality as the main factors. Delving a little deeper, an even darker theme emerged. 70 percent felt that fashion is contributing to girls growing up too quickly. And when looking at swimwear specifically, nearly 50 percent considered the swimwear options to be too mature. Fuelled by the response, DOT DOT was born. An Australian-designed swim collection exclusively for 1-5 year olds that reflects the beauty and innocence of all the little dot’s out there. All garments are lovingly constructed with luxurious soft Italian fabric. Made up of 78% recycled material which resists breakdown five times longer than average chlorine-resistant Lycra and a UPF 50+ rating, DOT DOT swimsuits are perfect for the beach or pool.
Talk us through the new range – tell us about what inspired the prints/colours/look and feel of the range?
DOT DOT was inspired by my daughter, Taylor (AKA Dot Dot) and was born out of a simple idea, to let little girls be just that – little. Conscious that it’s only a matter of time before Taylor starts asking to wear clothes beyond her years, I wanted to create swimwear specifically for this precious stage. I’ve often bought swimsuits that looked adorable on the hanger, but once on, are so loud and bright that they seem to wear her, rather than the other way around. So, the key for me was restraint. I wanted the natural beauty of children to be the focal point, with subtle colours, understated prints and feminine details that compliment their delicate features. With so many cherished memories made by the water, I wanted to create swimwear that would stand the test of time, both in quality and aesthetic, that mothers would look back on and love in years to come, just as they do today.
What are your top three time management tips?
Don’t sit on the scary/uncomfortable things. I find I’m not as focused as I can be until these are out of my mind. Outsource as much as possible. I end up wasting more time/money trying to do everything myself. A cup of tea and walk does miracles to clear the head and stay focused!
What makes you feel stressed?
Where do I begin! Probably the big one is uncertainty – which is pretty much every day at the moment. And an untidy house (again, all too common). Working from home, I struggle to think amid clutter.
What advice would you give other mothers looking to launch their own business? Did you always want to run your own business? What are the pros and cons?
Right before I really pursued DOT DOT, I attended a presentation by Lorraine Murphy (The Remarkables Group) where she likened starting a new business to that of going down your first ski jump. She shared a video of a little girl about to do just that, highlighting her fear, trepidation and eventually, courage, when she takes a deep breath and just goes for it. I think about this little girl often. The fear is real, but so is the exhilaration. It’s a constant roller-coaster of emotion but one that’s given me copious amounts of satisfaction – and most importantly, extra time with my family.
What’s your strategy for using social media to grow your business?
I’m still learning social media day-by-day. I used Instagram almost as a mood-board before I even had a product. It was a great way to start growing and establishing a two-way relationship with an audience that connected with my aesthetic and positioning. Now that I have a product, I’ve already got a wonderful network of people who are supporting the growth of the brand. I’m now starting to introduce DOT DOT to the Facebook network.
What are your summer kids essentials?
Hat – Can’t go past Fallen Broken Street Kids. Sunnies – Goose & Dust are super cute. Beach umbrella – Considering a bit of a splurge with Basil Bangs this year! Shoes – Salties or Havis. Towel/poncho – we’ve got so many hand-me-downs from cousins, I don’t need to buy any! Sunscreen – I generally use Nivea Sun Kids. Bucket and spade – any cheap variety – they always get lost or swapped! Good ol’ slip ‘n slide – hours of fun in the backyard.
Favourite summer spots to visit with your kids?
Oak Park, Cronulla. The kids love exploring the rocks, swimming in the rock pool or just running around in the park. It’s also a special place from my childhood. We also love holidaying in the Fiji islands… the Fijians are fabulous with the kids and we can have a little downtime (wine) while they enjoy kids club!