swimwear entrepreneur

Q&A with Mariah Caver, Amor Swim

Mariah Caver

Mariah Caver designer of Amor Freedom, hails from Atlanta, GA. She began designing at an early age and it has now blossomed into an eco-friendly luxury clothing line. Amor Freedom has just recently released the Amor Swim Collection providing swimwear for women of all shape and sizes to feel beautiful available at AMORSWIM.COM

Can you tell our readers about your background?

My Name is Mariah Caver, and I am a lover of fashion. My love for fashion started at a very young age I would style my dolls' clothes; by the time I got to middle school, I would go to the Dollar store and buy the sewing pack which came with the thread needles colors, measuring tape, and soft ball to make different outfits and things for myself.

What inspired you to start your business?

The inspiration behind starting my business came from me wanting to give back to the world in a way that was relatable for me and people like me. That was fashion for me. Fashion is a way to express yourself ! Style is a reflection of your attitude and personality. So being able to create clothes that allow the women to look and feel AMAZING is my inspiration. #Womenempowerment

Mariah Caver

Where is your business based?

We are online currently based in Atlanta, and are looking to expand to MIA and LA... but we ship worldwide.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

The first step I took during the process of starting my business was the sketches of course, and from there, I allowed the name of my line to fall into my lap, then I hit the ground running with production, and the rest was history. 

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

The most effective way of raising awareness for my clothing line has definitely been instagram.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Finding the eco-friendly fabric that feels amazing and still looks great. 

How do you stay focused?

The passion I have for design and being able to produce a product that can help with pushing a socially conscious world through fashion.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

The fabric AmorSwim uses is Eco-friendly , all the fabrics we use are made with recycled bottles.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

I would definitely say the most effective strategy would be Instagram; it’s an amazing tool to use to reach people all over the world.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Nobody will see your vision but you, so follow your heart and your dreams and make it happen no matter what people say.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

My favorite app would have to be my google app, my favorite blog is definitely Pinterest, and my favorite book is tied between "Think and Grow Rich" and the "48 Laws of Power".

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

My mother and father would be my favorite business tools lol I ask them EVERYTHING when it comes to the right business moves.

Who is your business role model? Why?

Jay-Z is definitely my business role model. He didn’t allow the world to box him in and limit him to just being an artist.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

The other half of Amor Freedom will be launching which is the Freedom streetwear for women and men. So definitely be on the lookout for that.

How can our readers connect with you?

You guys can go to the website for the swimwear at AmorSwim.com and for the apparel you can go to AmorFreedom.com.

My social media account is @rriahb_ AmorSwim and social media account is @Amor_freedom AMOR.

Website: Amorswim.com

Q&A with Entrepreneur and Swimwear Designer Callista Gifford-DeHart

Callista Gifford-Dehart

Blue Coral Swimwear LLC was founded in 2014 in Delray Beach, Florida with the idea of creating unique, fashionable, stylish, and trendy designer swimwear that flatters women of different shapes and sizes.

Founder Callista Gifford-DeHart released her first line the following year.

Since then, Blue Coral Swimwear has released and created designs and built a brand that fits women who want to make a statement on the beach. 

Blue Coral Swimwear proudly declares that every woman is beautiful and original – just like our swimsuits.

www.bluecoralswimwear.com

Can you tell our readers about your background?

Callista: I grew up working closely with garments at my parents' Dry Cleaning and Sewing business. After earning both my Bachelors in Textiles and an MBA, I focused on developing a fashion brand that all women can relate to.

Since graduation, my career background has consisted of retail, merchandising, textile testing, and manufacturing.

What inspired you to start your business?

Callista: Throughout my life, I have been obsessed with fashion, namely women’s swimwear.

Growing up, I took various trips to Florida with my family, and the first thing I wanted was a cute bathing suit. That typically meant a trip to Tarpon Springs. That was one my favorite place to visit, so I could get everything I needed to complete my ensemble.

When I moved to Florida in 2012, I lived so close to the beach that it fueled my passion for women’s swimwear. What I found was that if I wanted unique swimwear it was impossible.  So I decided to take matters into my own hands, and in 2014 I started developing Blue Coral Swimwear.

Where is your business based?

Callista: Although I live in South Florida, my business is in Batavia, New York. That’s where all my products are handmade. Being a native to that area of New York having my products created close to my heart means a lot to me.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

Callista: I began development in 2014.  Within a year I had a logo, website, registered my business, and sketched my first line.  It was a hard year working during weekends, and at night, while working full-time during the week.  But Blue Coral Swimwear went live in 2015 and I’ve been building it ever since.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Callista: Social media has played a HUGE part of raising awareness for my brand.  It allows me to shape my message.  I also put my products in the hands of real women as brand ambassadors to help show what one of my bikinis could look like on you.

6). What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Callista: There are so many challenges as a business owner that you are not prepared for. The biggest frustration for me involves the people who call themselves designers, but don’t have an original thought.  Knock-offs designs in fashion are a typical hurdle a true designer must get around. 

I’ve also had to try and figure out who to trust and separate personal feelings.

Beyond that, building a thick skin to know that as long as you keep pushing you’ll make out in the end.

How do you stay focused?

Callista: I have always been extremely driven and keep myself busy. When I need to focus, I listen to music. The greater the variety, the more creative I get. If I need to calm down and concentrate then I listen to classical.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

Callista: My unique designs separate me from everyone else.  I think outside-of-the-box, and strive to make sexy, classy, and artsy pieces any woman would want in their closet.

Another thing that makes me different is quality.  My background in the textile testing industry pushes me to create swimwear that will last longer than a season.  Many don’t notice this, but I look at every stitch, strand of spandex, and piece of fabric to make sure it’s the best quality a woman can wear. 

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Callista: Creating a strategic brand ambassador program has been a huge contribution to growing my business. These ladies understand me, my message, and best represent my company.  Otherwise, it’s been networking and participating in relevant shows in the industry.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Callista: I would tell aspiring entrepreneurs to not expect things to happen overnight. Everything takes time, and that slow and steady wins the race.

Another important thing is for you to stay true to who you. Authenticity matters.  If you wouldn’t buy the item, then it’s not worth selling.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

Callista: If I had to choose a favorite app, I would probably choose Instagram. Sounds very cliché, but I like the creativity you can put into it. I love seeing everyone’s adventures and what makes them who they are.

I don’t read blogs but instead I listen to Podcasts. I love listening to “Straight up with Stassi” from Vanderpump Rules. The people there call it like it is and are straight up honest.

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What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

Callista: That’s a tough one. I’m always reading different business articles online from various sources. I really do like LinkedIn because I feel you can get a lot of useful information, as well as refer to other professional’s experiences. Otherwise, I like to read different books about successful entrepreneurs (Zappos and Zac Posen are two recent books I have read).

Who is your business role model? Why?

Callista: Coco Chanel is not only my favorite designer, but also my favorite business woman. She built her empire from the ground up and truly captivated the world with her fashion. She was so ahead of her time.  She pushed the fashion industry to its limits. That work eventually paved the road for what you see in stores today.  

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Callista: After Miami Swim Week, I will be taking a well-deserved vacation in August with my husband, so that’s something I am really looking forward too.

Once that’s over it’s back to the grind.  I will be releasing my 2019 line slowly on my website, and then start sketching and coming up with new designs for next year.

How can our readers connect with you?

Facebook: Blue Coral Swimwear

Twitter: @SwimBlueCoral

Instagram: @SwimBlueCoral

Q&A with Natalia Vargas

Natalia Vargas

Natalia Vargas is the creative and innovative mind behind the brand Doppia Swimwear. She has been running the company for a short time with a big picture of how the brand is going to grow. Natalia was born in Colombia with Latin blood and passion for her country. She wants to share the story of Colombia, its rich culture, diversity, colors, people, and values through the Doppia brand. www.doppiaswimwear.com  

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I studied and worked in finance at the beginning of my career. However, I have always loved to draw, design, and create, so I quit my job four years ago to start this new adventure.

I also studied for a Master's Degree in International Business in Spain and have a certificate in Brand Management from The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

What inspired you to start your business?

I wanted to connect with people and to create a brand that represents and celebrates the different shapes of women.  My own experience was also part of the inspiration because I am curvy - my hips and legs are thick and it was very hard for me to find bathing suits that didn’t leave me marks but were also pretty, fancy, and trendy.

Where is your business based?

My business is based in Bogotá, Colombia.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

The way I started is not usual because the brand already existed. I joined the company four years ago. I was a customer and what I loved the most was the concept; Doppia means "double" in Italian so reversibility is the main characteristic of the design.

I kept the essence of the brand (reversible swimwear) but made improvements in terms of design, inspiration, and communication. I asked our customer what they wanted and how they felt about the brand. Once I had gathered that relevant data, I used inspiration from Colombia, its people, and traditions to create bold and fun designs.  

Natalia Vargas

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Word-of-mouth is definitely the way I started to build brand awareness. Between my friends, family, and every place and event that I go, I talk about the brand and its concept and people get really excited and start following it. Social media has also been an effective way to build brand awareness. 

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenges have been related to production and design. I have all the ideas about what I want and how I want the products to be, but as I am not a trained designer, there are many things related to both processes where I don't have enough expertise. So the way I overcome them is by working closely with my design team and the garment factory.

How do you stay focused?

Oh boy, this is a hard one! When you have your own business many opportunities emerge. Yet I stay focused by tackling one goal at a time. Sometimes you just have to say "not now, but later" when different opportunities emerge. 

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I think the way my brand is different from my competition is how we communicate with our customers. We have close relationships with them and provide as much information as we can. For example, our hang tags are designed specially to let the customer know which garments are reversible.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Since a few collections ago, I decided to switch the image and prototype of my Doppia woman by shooting campaign photos with my customers. This strategy resulted in more engagement with my market because women identify with the girl they see in the photos. This approach also helped to grow the brand's sales and awareness in social media.

Natalia Vargas

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

My advice is to keep working, love what you do, and be patient. Sometimes being an entrepreneur is hard and everything can get overwhelming, but don't quit.  Just keep working and keep the goal in your mind. Patience you will get where you want!

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

My favorite app is Instagram; I use it for editing pictures, making short videos, benchmarking, as a communication channel with my customers, for inspiration, to find stores, potential customers, shopping and sale events and many other different things.

My favorite blog is Foundr because there are many interesting articles related to business, new entrepreneurs, marketing, and strategies that are very useful.

My favorite book is "The One Thing" because it tells the importance of keep focused!

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

I like Shopify because of the valuable data it provides, including what visitors see, what products they like, as well as what are the most viewed and added to the cart products. The platform also provides information about promotions, ads, and marketing strategies to reach wider audiences. 

Who is your business role model? Why?

A couple of years ago, I met a wonderful Colombian designer based in New York City named Raul Peñaranda. He became an inspiration for me and my business role model. I had the opportunity to find out about his work and history, how he began to work in the industry and started his brand with all the struggles and this really inspired me! And last year, I worked with him at an event in Bogotá, Colombia where he presented his collection and it was an amazing experience!

What do you have planned for the next six months?

My plans for the next six months are exploring new markets - one is the U.S. This collection will be inspired by our indigenous southern tribes and their creations, and we'll let women and men know about our unique Colombian pieces and share a bit of our country.

How can our readers connect with you?

They can reach out to me or to the brand through social media, in Instagram as @doppiaswimwear, Facebook as Doppia Swimwear or our web page www.doppiaswimwear.com. I would love to get in touch and introduce them to my brand experience!