Mum turns swimwear mishap into $2 million empire for women


We’ve all been there.

Running along the sand, diving under a wave and before you know it – there’s a little more hanging out from your pair of swimmers than moments earlier.

It’s a battle with the boobs, bum and an ill-fitting pair of swimmers Melbourne mum Gemma Crowe knew all too well.

Often going on holidays with her young family to beach locations around Australia, Bali and Thailand, the 36-year-old often found that playing with her three boys on the sand would quickly result in discomfort.

“Going from quite a small figure to having three kids, I’m much bigger busted now and really searched for swimwear that was flattering and supportive but also funky and not daggy,” Mrs Crowe told news.com.au.

“I wanted something that made mums feel cool while chasing after their kids.

“But I felt like mum swimwear, when we went on holidays, was quite daggy. Holidays and travel is a really big part of our family. But when I was in the pool or at the beach, I wouldn’t see cool swimwear on mums.”

Having worked in retail, specifically in the lucrative surf wear industry, Mrs Crowe was given the opportunity to garner herself with business skills and a social media know-how to shift in to her fashion passion – swimwear.

“We were buying lots of swimwear when I was working in retail,” she explained. At first, I managed the shop so I could learn about the industry.

“Then, I worked in the wholesale side of the business, where I helped to build a beach brand for umbrellas and chairs. This was how I learnt a lot about what it takes to build a business, which is what really gave me the building blocks for my brand, Infamous Swim.”

After acquiring the “hobby brand” Infamous Swim in March 2018, which initially focused on Brazilian cuts and skimpy bikini tops, Mrs Crowe worked on a rebrand that involved cossies with a little more coverage.

“I didn’t resonate with the brand at all when I took it over,” she laughed.

“I had a real disconnect from the style, and being a mum, I wanted to have more mature swimwear.

“The mum market is arguably the biggest market in the world [and they] love Instagram. So I started following blogs and influencers and reached out to them and introduced myself.

“After doing six months of that, and getting maybe six replies from 150 emails sent, I got one from an influencer that was huge who loved my concept. Overnight the brand took off, it was insane.

“That month, I wanted to sell six pieces, but instead I sold $40k worth.”

An entire industry has risen up around the Australian swimsuit movement, with brands like Infamous Swim capturing a piece of the almost $28 billion global swimwear market. Swimming is considered one of the most popular recreational activities in Australia and in part, around the world. The increase in consumer interest and with more families choosing to be alongside the coast for their holidays has boosted the demand for swimwear and propelling the growth in the market.

But Mrs Crowe says it was the brands shift in to ‘mini-me’ dressing trend – where mums can wear the same swimwear set as their daughters – that took her brand to the next level.

“We all love taking photos of our kids … and matching looks awesome,” she said of the ‘Mini Swim’ collection.

“When I told my supplier what I wanted to do with the matching range, they said what a great idea it was.

“I think mums especially love it, because it allows them to connect with kids a little more.”

The concept of ‘mini-me’ dressing is having a moment, because it allows a brand to cash in on the profitable side of both women’s and kidswear markets.

The trend cuts a fine line between cute and tacky, with some seeing the matchy-matchy ensembles akin to eras like the 1960s when women would create dresses for themselves and their children from the same piece of fabric.

But when brands like Gucci, Burberry and even Givency have their own multimillion-dollar ‘mini-me’ range – this phenomenon doesn’t seem so outdated – nor tasteless – after all.

After a booming success, which drove the Infamous swim and Mini Swim range from 22,000 followers to more than 200,000 on Instagram alone – Mrs Crowe expanded in to mens and boys boardies.

It’s a strategic move, she says, takes couples (and kids) dressing to the next level, and has already raked in more than $1 million in sales since October last year, and forecast to hit $2 million by July 2020.

“If there’s enough of a request for a product, we will do it,” she said.

“Once I had 1000 requests for boys swimwear, I did boys. Then in July 2019, we released mens as well.

“Obviously this industry made me nervous because swimwear is a flooded market. It was scary.

“But I think the way that we marketed the swimwear and influencers we used really put a body positivity on the brand and a point of difference.”





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