This week we had the pleasure to interview two cool girls, Bridget Dome & Sibylle Postley from Pepper Swimwear, the coolest brand of sports bikinis designed for beach volleyball as well as other beach/water sports.
1. When did you come up with the idea of beach volleyball bikinis?
The idea came to us in early 2013, when we both had new babies. We were playing a lot of beach volleyball to get back in shape, and were having issues with our bikinis. We struggled to find bikinis that were comfortable, gave the right support and fashionable. Between us we had collected 125 bikinis, and decided there was a niche in the market for beach volleyball bikinis. And, our idea was born.
2. Why did you choose the name Pepper Swimwear?
Pepper is the name of a common Volleyball drill. For those who don’t do Volleyball, the name Pepper also reflects our designs being a little ‘spicy’. Additionally, the name Pepper doesn’t exclude women who don’t play Volleyball, as our bikinis are suitable for other sports too.
3. What makes a bikini suitable for Beach Volleyball?
As parents our day begins with taking the kids to school, followed by some Volleyball, trips to the market, bringing the kids home, and then making dinner etc. Finally, at the end of the day you get to take a shower, and so the bikini has to be something that can withstand this daily routine. It will need to be flexible to fit the changing body of a women throughout the month, and not be too tight around the neck, and generally comfortable enough to sit underneath clothing all day.
4. Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
We are always on the lookout for inspiration, and taking photos of random things. Inspiration struck on a recent trip to Mexico with five children and six adults, there was plenty going on. Our new line is coming out in March 2015, and we are really excited about it.
5. Do sell in Australia and Overseas?
We are currently based in LA, but are very interested in branching out to other countries. Creating a partnership with Aquazy will hopefully help us gain exposure to the Australian market.
6. Can you describe your collection using 3 words?
Spicy, fun and energetic
7. What is your favourite piece of the collection?
Bridget’s favourite of the 2014 collection is the ‘Hermosa’ bikini top. It has a woven braid on the back; it’s really cool and unusual. The braid was handmade by Bridget and Sibylle. From the upcoming collection in March 2015, Bridget likes the ‘Zuma’ top that has a back insert, a diamond pattern. Sibylle has her own favourites, the ‘Ocean Park’ bikini. All the bikinis created are named after beach names. The ‘Ocean Park’ bikini is black and Sibylle sees it as her Little Black Dress of bikinis, she uses it for sports, takes it to the pool and enjoys that she can use it underneath various tops. All Pepper bikinis are professionally made, but some of the knotting and weaving for the backs are handmade by us. Which is good as it gives us a chance to add something special.
Due to the various designs, and the processes and procedures involved in creating bikinis, it takes several days to make them. But, we are lucky that we are based in the heart of the LA fashion district.
8. Who or what inspired you to create this collection?
Predominantly, it’s our love of Beach Volleyball that’s inspired us. But we do gain inspiration from elsewhere, including trips. Like the 2015 collection, which was inspired by a trip to Mexico.
9. When did you launch?
We began thinking about the products in early 2013, but spent quite some time researching requirements for bikinis, and looking into designs. So, we actually began selling in May 2014. This is our first season.
10. Where do you see your business in the next 12 months? What is next for you?
We would like to continue in Beach Volleyball, and hope to see more players wearing Pepper swimwear. We would also like to see them worn for other sports, as they are suitable for Yoga, surfing, athletics and many more sports. We would like to reach out to these new markets, and find ways to communicate with them, potentially through generating new partnerships. We have recently received a request to branch out into designing Board Shorts for men, hats and t-shirts so we are looking to expand our line in the near future.
11. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business like yours?
Find one or more mentors to assist you. We were fortunate enough to get advice from James Jannard, the founder of Oakley, John Moore, the President/Creative Director of a local company called Pop Studio; a branding agency. And a dear friend of ours Jaymi Zenter Washburn a very successful lingerie and swimwear designer. The conversations we had will these mentors helped guide our processes.
12. What Challenges did you face when launching your new products?
One of the biggest challenges that we faced was that neither of us had a background in the apparel industry. It was difficult to find reputable bikini vendors that were also willing to work with a start up business. We spent many hours researching and driving around factories, and had a few set backs when we were promised things that weren’t delivered. We found this disappointing and at times were ready to give up. But in the end, we found great vendors, who produced great quality bikinis. Serendipity seemed to play a part in it all. Having two of us helped, as we were able to help and support each other.
13. Is there anything that you would recommend for designers up to avoid?
Initially it was very easy for us to get focused on product design and production and put sales and marketing to one side. However, someone starting out should be very clear on their sales and marketing ideas, and strategies for how they are going to achieve these.
14. Where is your favourite beach and why?
Ocean Park Beach in Santa Monica. We live close to each other and that is where we started playing AA Beach Volleyball.
15. What is your favourite personal quote?
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be” – Douglas Adams. We interpret this as, if you keep your head up, you end up in a better place.
16. What is your favourite colour?
Bridget’s favourite colour is Neon Lime, influenced by her experience in Mexico. And, Sibylle’s favourite is Turquoise green