The word "super mum" can get thrown around a lot. (And perhaps rightly so - isn't every mother?)
But one woman who is really bringing the term to life is Gemma Crowe, the founder of Infamous Swim. Not only is she the brains behind this big brand (they’re going global in 2019), she’s also the mother of three boys (no small feat) and is passionate about bringing body confidence to the swimwear market. While many mothers are guilty of hiding under a towel at the beach, Gemma is a proponent of standing proudly in the bodies we have (yes – those same bodies that created those miraculous babies of ours). As a brand new GRACE Collective Business Member, we caught up with Gemma to find out more about Infamous Swim, how she makes the juggle work, and her tips for dressing at the beach (spoiler alert: mothers of girls – you’ll want to get straight into matching after reading this profile).
Tell us about Infamous Swim.
Infamous Swim is a leading Australian label for women who want to feel empowered in their swimwear. We believe confident women stand out naturally and have curated a brand that makes women of all shapes and sizes feel sexy without compromising authenticity. The Infamous Swim collection is made from high-quality fabrics and fashion-forward designs with the female form in mind. We also have Infamous & Mini Swim collection, a newly-launched collection of matching swimwear for mums and bubs.
What inspired the launch of Infamous Swim?
My passion for the Infamous & Mini Swim collection came about through Instagram. I am Instagram mad and adore the supportive communities of women built through the platform, not only for the divine imagery but the day-to-day conversations about kids, breastfeeding, husbands, working with kids – you name it, we discuss it! I have such a love for beautiful Instagram accounts where Mumma’s would match with their minis! It’s such a hit and I realised there was nothing in the market for complementary and high- quality swimwear for mums to match with their kids. And so, my concept for Infamous & Mini Swim was born.
Can you tell us a little bit about your career before Infamous Swim?
I’ve always been creative. When I was younger I was a professional dancer, and while this was short lived the hard work and dedication has stayed with me and helped me get to where I am today. I have tried my hand at many other sectors including retail, marketing and buying, but my passion for boutique shopping led me to co-create a homewares brand. After a few tough years, I decided to close the doors and pursue Infamous Swim. I’ve never looked back.
Your brand focuses on empowering women in their swimwear - a category that is usually much more focused on making us feel insecure about our flaws. Why are you passionate about this?
Swimwear has always been such a huge part of my life and is synonymous with Australian culture. I’ve generally been a body-confident person, even during my years spent as a professional dancer. These values were something I wanted to instil in as many women as possible. As women, I believe our bodies are simply incredible and should be celebrated and I want to promote that empowerment through my swimwear for ladies of all shapes and sizes.
What tips do you have for mums who are hoping to look a little more confident on the beach or by the pool?
As the adage says, ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’! We are incredible humans, especially mums working around the clock to balancing work and home life, and we deserve to feel wonderful in our own skin. My best advice is to take notice of your body type and what suits you best. If you have small children and are always on the go, select a swimsuit made from quality materials and offers good coverage.
Your swimsuits are famously flattering. What do you think is the secret to making a flattering swimsuit - particularly for mothers?
Our fashion-forward collection is made from the highest-quality fabrics and the suits are seamless, meaning they are double layered to create great support and smooth lines where it matters most. I believe all women, especially mothers, have the right to feel bold and confident in a swimsuit and I’m conscious of ensuring the collection has a wide range of styles to suit a diverse range of body shapes.
Can you tell us about your Infamous & Mini collection?
The collection is made up of fashion-focused swimsuit styles that support and move with your body. We believed in offering styles that make you feel like your swimsuit was tailored uniquely for you and your mini. Above all, we knew we’d say au revoir to standard solid colour sets and introduce bright, feminine and stylish prints that had yet to hit the Australian market.
What has been the most rewarding part of running your business so far?
I would have to say being at home with my babies. One of my sons, Duke, was born 8 weeks before the launch – talk about timing! There are certainly many other rewarding elements that come with running my own business, but the flexibility to pick my own hours so I can spend quality time with my family far outweighs anything else.
What about the biggest challenge?
Equally, I would have to say managing the responsibility of maintaining a successful business and running a household. I’m lucky enough to have a very supportive family that’s able to lend a hand at the drop of a hat to look after the boys when I have a looming deadline.
What does your design process look like?
My initial consideration is thinking through summer trends, colours and patterns for the coming year. This gets me ‘in the zone’ pretty quickly and from there I’ll sketch or play around with creative ideas. I’m a perfectionist, and the first range took around 8 months to bring to life. Each of our prints is a hand-drawn design. This part is a carefully curated process that includes sketching, colouring in with pencil, and scanning into a computerised program to make final edits and ensure our prints are picture perfect.
You are the mother of three boys … Um, can you please tell us your secret!?
Haha! Like most mothers, I’m not sure I have one. Hard work, organisation and a supportive family have all played a vital role in the success of Infamous & Mini Swim.
Really - how do you manage the juggle of motherhood and running a business?
This is a question I’m asked frequently, and I can assure you I don’t have it down to a tee. I’m sure all working mums out there can identify with taking Skype calls in a dressing gown without realising you’re not dressed, toys covering the factory floor and a can of dry shampoo always within arm’s reach.
What does self-care look like for you? And how do you switch off?
Prior to running my own business, I would typically say regular workouts, healthy eating and minimal alcohol intake to nourish the body and mind. However, I must confess that since the launch and having a baby, my self-care has taken a bit of a backseat. Fingers crossed 2019 will mean a little more ‘me time’!
What inspires you to keep going when days are tough?
I always listen to my body and mind. When times get tough and a solution seems a little out of reach, I log off for an hour or so and spend time with my children. I find a little family time is all I need to pause and take a step back. In terms of what inspires me, I’d have to say the amazing ladies wearing my brand. It’s completely humbling to hear from my customers and read the beautiful messages I receive daily from women who haven’t worn a swimsuit in years and finally feel comfortable in public. It makes me cry happy years and really does make it all worthwhile.
What advice do you have for mums looking to launch their own business?
Do your research, play to your strengths and outsource those pesky tasks that don’t come naturally to you. Running your own business can be stressful enough without wasting energy on the things that aren’t within your skillset. Spend your time doing what you’re passionate about. Hustle, and hustle hard. Ask for help, learn from mistakes and take on board what your customers say.
What’s next for Infamous Swim?
I have some new designs up my sleeve so stay tuned, but at the moment we’re focusing on cracking the US market. We will be introducing new designs, fuller bottom pieces, new prints and hopefully some designs for bigger chested women like me!! 2019 is going to be cracking year.