Sydneysider Alice Davies has developed a business model based on the idea that women want access to practical yet stylish swimwear.
Davies’ business Bondi Bare was founded in 2009 after a discussion with her triathlete sister.
Although the business doesn’t go on sale to the public until June, Bondi Bare already intends to become a mainstay in the highly competitive world of Australian women’s swimwear. Davies talks to StartupSmart about bikinis and business plans.
What gave you the idea for the business?
I had no idea how to make a bikini and still can’t use a needle and thread to save my life. The idea came to me when I was working for another company in a completely different role.
I was talking to my sister about an idea for a sports bra – something versatile to wear under your shirt when you’re going for a run, but also something you feel comfortable to go for a swim in without feeling like you’re wearing a sports bra. The idea evolved from that into swimwear.
What design process did you go through?
I located local patternmakers and designers. I had the ideas in my head so the challenge was to communicate those ideas to the patternmaker.
I knew that I wanted three or four different tops and two types of briefs. I wanted the front of the tops to all look the same, and I wanted back designs that could be tailored to allow people to swing their arms, swim, etc.
I also had to incorporate practical elements like drawstrings, and tops that are completely adjustable but also stylish, which was a challenge. For example, one of the patternmakers thought one of the tops was too low so we went back and forth with each other a bit.
How did you secure a manufacturer?
It was a lot harder than I thought it would be – it’s all to do with research. The Australian manufacturing industry is quite secretive in the sense that you have to go through the process of sorting out the great manufacturers from the not-so-great ones.
The process involved a lot of researching, calling around and talking to different manufacturers. I shopped locally and internationally – I needed to find a manufacturer who could promise the quality and the minimum quantity.
Once I secured a [local] manufacturer, I started with a minimum order because I didn’t have a big budget.
How is the business structured?
We’re purely online at the moment, which was definitely an incentive for me to found the company. One of the things I loved was that I could set up relatively cheaply and operate from anywhere in the world.
A lot of the elements of the business have been outsourced – I locally outsourced to suppliers in Sydney. In addition to the patternmaking and design, I outsourced a graphic designer.
I’ve also outsourced the warehousing, because living in an apartment in Sydney doesn’t allow a lot of storage space, and the complete online ordering system.
The company we use is PMA Solutions; I have a relationship with one of their business managers from a previous role.
How did you fund the business?
It’s all been completely self-funded. I’ve put in $20,000 of own savings so far. I’ve been taking on freelance marketing roles while I work on Bondi Bare.
We’re looking for an angel investor to see the business grow to next level, but I know a lot of investing is geared towards tech start-ups at the moment – there’s a lot of innovation in those fields.
We’re hoping someone with a background in women’s health and wellbeing will invest in the business.
How many staff do you have?
A total of two, plus an intern. My partner Tristan is the CFO and I have an intern who works from Melbourne on the marketing side of the business.
Financially, it makes sense to have that income coming through [from freelancing] but it can be quite stressful.
What are your revenue projects for the year ahead?
I’d be happy to be looking at a profit of about $20,000 in the next 12 months but a lot of that depends on distribution relationships.
We’re currently talking to some distributors in the US. Depending on how the feedback goes with that, that will obviously have an impact on the figures as well.
We wouldn’t say no to other distributors but it’s not part of our strategy to have our own stores.
What’s your long-term vision for the business?
We’d like to take the business beyond swimwear and establish a women’s health or lifestyle publication with tips and tricks on health and nutrition because that’s what attracts people to the Bondi Bare brand.