Is Andie Swim The Answer To All Our Swimwear Dreams?

Is Andie Swim The Answer To All Our Swimwear Dreams?



"The initial idea for Andie came one summer when I was at Bark, and I went on a work retreat to a lake with colleagues. I really struggled to find a swimsuit for that trip. I just couldn’t find anything that felt minimal and timeless at an accessible price point. I spoke with many of my female colleagues on that trip who shared my frustration with swimwear shopping..."

Swimwear shopping is a lot like shopping for jeans – fun in theory, but in reality? Not so much. It’s a sentiment Melanie Travis knew too well given her own experiences struggling to find a swimsuit in the traditional sense, so she decided to do something about it. Andie Swim is the foolproof way to buy chic and simple swimwear minus the shopping issues women usually face come summer every season. You simply choose your preferred style of swimsuit from a sleek and tightly edited selection of one-pieces and bikinis online, try them on at home, and send back whatever doesn’t work – no questions asked, with free returns. You can also mix and match top and bottom sizes to truly personalise your experience and accommodate for all body shapes and sizes. Sound too good to be true? It’s really not. “Every woman is different of course and wants different things from her swimwear, but I believe a minimal, timeless design (no frilly patterns or awkward cut-outs!) in select beautiful colours make the best one-pieces. Also, the fabric and construction have to be top quality. We use a high-end blend of nylon and spandex that’s extra breathable so women can stay in their suit all day. The fabric is quick drying and UPF50, too,” says Melanie. And the best bit? All pieces are under $140, so you’re getting a high-quality swimsuit for a fraction of the price of designer styles. We caught up with Melanie and quizzed her on the business of swimwear, her career path and how Demi Moore fits into the picture… Go to www.andieswim.com


What did you do before Andie Swim and how did it lead to where you are today?

I began my career at Foursquare, then I joined the marketing team at Kickstarter, and eventually moved to BarkBox. So, I’ve worked my entire career in consumer-facing internet companies, always on the marketing team where my roles involved creating and nurturing communities around a disruptive new product. Building a career around creating communities passionate about a product has been enormously helpful as I grow Andie.
 
The initial idea for Andie came one summer when I was at Bark, and I went on a work retreat to a lake with colleagues. I really struggled to find a swimsuit for that trip. I just couldn’t find anything that felt minimal and timeless at an accessible price point. I spoke with many of my female colleagues on that trip who shared my frustration with swimwear shopping. 
I began to speak with more and more women about their experiences swimwear shopping, and eventually realized I was hearing a chorus of voices all saying that the swimwear shopping experience is broken. 
 
So, I decided to do something about it! That’s how Andie was born. We’re an e-commerce swimwear brand offering a curated selection

What about the logistics of starting a swimwear label - how did the concept go from design stage to samples and production?

I had a friend who was a swimwear designer, so when I first began kicking around the idea for Andie, I teamed up with her to develop sketches for our first collection. I knew I wanted Andie to be a one-piece brand that offered timeless, minimal styles, so we worked together on a few concepts for the first collection. 
 
Once we had some early sketches, I ran a crowdfunding campaign to raise money in order to actually manufacture a first run of swimsuits. I also used the crowdfunding campaign as a way to collect feedback on the sketches. Over 300 women pre-ordered a swimsuit from the campaign, and everyone who pre-ordered was able to vote on their favourite sketches and give us overall feedback on the direction of the collection. 
 
With the money and feedback from the crowdfunding campaign, we began refining the collection and making samples of the first suits. We narrowed it down to 5 sample silhouettes and then we surveyed our pre-order customers again, eventually narrowing the collection down to just 3 one-pieces. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, and I went door to door in the garment district there looking for a boutique manufacturer I could work with to bring the 3 sample suits to life. After many more months of sampling and refining the suits, we eventually put in an order for 400 units and launched them on our website in April 2017. The units sold faster than we could have imagined, and the rest of the year was just a constant race to keep up with demand! 

Where or who did you turn to for business advice at first?

I turned to my wife first. She is an investment banker and works with companies of all sizes, so she was enormously helpful as I figured out all the first steps of putting the business together, from incorporating the company, to the early financial models, and much more!


Demi Moore has famously invested in the brand - how did this come about, and can you tell us how the process of finding investors actually works?

I actually just cold emailed Demi Moore! I think it’s rare that that works, but it worked for me. I knew she was getting more into investing, and that she was a champion for female-founded brands, particularly in the fashion space. So I cold emailed her explaining the concept for Andie, and to my surprise, she replied! She was interested in the idea of a swimwear brand by and for women, that empowers rather than objectifies women. She eventually both invested and became an advisor to Andie. 
 
More generally on finding investors, I made a chart of everyone – both individuals and funds – that invest in direct to consumer businesses. I read a lot of articles and blogs to develop that list. Then I went through LinkedIn to see where I had mutual contacts. I reached out to my mutual contacts asking if they would feel comfortable introducing me. If they said yes, I wrote up a little blurb about Andie to make it easy for them to forward to their investor contacts. I probably sent 200-300 emails. Of those, I got about 75 meetings. Of those, about 5 or 6 invested. So, I heard a lot of no’s before I got any yeses! 

Have you always loved swimwear?

I have always loved swimwear and going to the beach, but I have always struggled to find a swimsuit that fits right, is easy to wear, and is easy to shop for. Until Andie!


There seems to be an influx of swimwear brands on the scene at the moment - how do you make sure Andie Swim sets itself apart from the rest?

Honestly, I don’t really pay attention to other swimwear brands. I started Andie for me – because I wanted a better swimsuit and a better shopping experience. It turns out I’m not the only one who wants that. I think if I just stay true to myself and keep doing everything I can to serve our customers and create better swimwear, we can’t go wrong. 

What makes a great one-piece?

Every woman is different of course and wants different things from her swimwear, but I believe a minimal, timeless design (no frilly patterns or awkward cut-outs!) in select beautiful colours make the best one-pieces. Also, the fabric and construction have to be top quality. We use a high-end blend of nylon and spandex that’s extra breathable so women can stay in their suit all day. The fabric is quick drying and UPF50, too.


How long should we keep swimsuits for as a general rule - does the fabrication have a use by date?

There is no hard and fast rule about how long you can keep a swimsuit – it can depend on level of use, activities, and other factors. But I would say that once the fabric begins pilling or yellowing, the swimsuit is on its way out. Other telltale signs that it may be time to replace your swimsuit include the elastic stretching out so that the straps don’t stay on, and the bottom of the swimsuit sagging.

What’s the best way to care for swimwear?

We recommend always rinsing your suit post-swim. Rinsing it with cold water then laying it flat to dry is a great way to ensure the longevity of the fabric. When washing your suit, either hand wash or throw in the machine on a gentle cycle with cold water. Never bleach your swimsuit! Lay flat to dry, never wring it out as that’s not good for the material.


Describe a typical morning - what time do you wake, do you exercise, meditate?

My alarm goes off at 7:30am, and the first thing I do once I’m up is crawl into my dog’s bed and cuddle with her. That’s probably the best part of my morning. (My wife and I rescued our dog seven years ago, and she’s the love of our lives.)

Eventually, I get myself out of the dog bed and start brewing coffee. While it’s brewing, I check the Andie orders that came in overnight. Now that we’re in Australia, nighttime order activity has picked up significantly! 

Twice a week I see a trainer at the gym before work. We spend half an hour on strength training, where he beats me up, and then half an hour boxing, where I get to beat him up. It’s great stress relief along with keeping me healthy and fit! 

On the days that I don’t go to the gym before work, I take my dog on a long walk through Central Park before heading to the office.


How do you handle the more stressful and challenging parts of running your own business?

Boxing helps to relieve stress – I always feel refreshed and re-focused after a good boxing session with my trainer. I also go to yoga classes at least once or twice a week. Generally, I just try to keep everything in perspective. There are times when I can feel completely overwhelmed, but then I take a step back and remember how lucky I am to have this opportunity to build and grow my own brand. I try not to let anything completely take over my life – it’s important to live a little! So my wife and I go on date nights, and we try to get away for weekend escapes as often as we can.


What is the best part of running your own business?

There are so many best parts! I meet so many interesting people, and I really love that part of entrepreneurship. I love creating a team behind an idea and working together to make the vision a reality. I love creating something new in the world!


If you had to give one piece of advice to someone wanting to start their own label, what would it be?

My advice to someone wanting to start their own label (or business, or anything), is to just do it! Just get your idea out there, even if it’s not perfect. You’ll learn a lot from your first customers. I meet a lot of entrepreneurs who will spend years on their idea before launching it to the public, and I think that’s a mistake. What if what you’re developing doesn’t resonate? Just get it out there, listen to feedback, and iterate. Perfect is the enemy of good.


How important is social media to your business model and sales?

Social media is very important to our business model. We do more than 50% of our sales from Facebook and Instagram! Social media helps us to showcase the brand and reach a wider audience.


What is your definition of self care and how do you make time for it?

Self-care is what I do to be happy and fulfilled. I make time for self-care every single day, whether it’s going to the gym, hanging out with my dog, reading a good book, sharing a meal with friends and family, etc. A lot of things can fall into the bucket of self-care, but it’s important so I do something for my self-care every day.


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