A movement of kindness can apply to every aspect of Life, being kind to ourselves, the earth, animals and each other, try acts of kindness and see how it makes you and others feel.
California native Andréa Bernholtz is the serial mom-preneur and fashion powerhouse behind the eco-conscious SWIMINISTA brand. Known for co-founding the luxury denim line Rock & Republic in 2002, she helped to transform the company into a celebrity favorite and globally recognized name offering cosmetics, accessories, and clothing. In 2015, she became the CEO of Titan Industries, adding high-fashion footwear to her resume. Her latest venture features chic swimwear that combines her love of fashion, swimming, and the environment.
“I have never been able to find a swimsuit that fits just right,” explains Bernholtz. “If it holds me up, it looks like a sports bra or too old-fashioned. Otherwise, it doesn’t provide the right support and I pop out all the time!”
In 2019, after speaking with hundreds of women experiencing the same issues, Bernholtz set out to create the solution herself, co-founding the SWIMINISTA collection. Based on her previous work at global lifestyle brand Rock & Republic and first-hand experience with the waste-filled fashion industry, she set out to not only build a better suit but also a better design process. The result is a collection of ultra-comfortable swimwear featuring a soft, luxurious nylon fabric made from post-consumer plastics. Figure-flattering tops, bottoms, and one-pieces can be mixed and matched, offering timeless silhouettes in adjustable, customized fits designed to inspire confidence from size A to DD.
The SWIMINISTA online boutique also makes the shopping experience a breeze. A personalized sizing guide helps customers easily find the right suit for their unique body. SWIMINISTA’s convenient “Try At Home” solution eliminates the soul-destroying try-on process. Customers can choose a selection of suits to test in the comfort and privacy of home, and — true to the company’s environmental values — all orders arrive in earth-friendly recycled, compostable packaging.
When Bernholtz isn’t perfecting the SWIMINISTA line, she can be found spending time with her daughter or sharing industry insights with various publications like US Weekly’s “Fashion Police.” Passionate about the planet, she also regularly coordinates community beach clean-ups and gives time to organizations working to protect the environment, such as Heal the Bay, Oceania, and The Galapagos Conservancy.
Learn more about Andréa Bernholtz and shop the revolutionary and philanthropic SWIMINISTA brand at SWIMINISTA.com. Follow on Instagram @SWIMINISTA for style ideas, new releases, and brand updates. SWIMINISTA: Meet your new favorite suit… finally!
Thank you for joining us in this interview series. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Well, since we recently launched and we are in the Covid World, everything is new and interesting! New ways to do business, massive retail and executive changes, you name it, it’s new and interesting.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I had asked a model to try one of our bathing suit tops and she came out of the dressing room with the top on, but naked from the waist down! Now, I am very clear when we do fittings.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Swiminista is a chic and eco swim brand that problem solves by being adjustable and comfortable as well as supportive. Swiminista uses hidden sewing techniques that enhance women’s bodies to give us extra confidence while we are being so exposed. We spend endless hours researching and speaking to women about what they want in a bathing suit.
We truly care about how women feel.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have recently collaborated with Christian Lacroix and launched our Girls “mini me collection)
Christian Lacroix’s iconic prints paired with our best selling styles has already been a huge success. As far as helping people, Swiminista does beach and hiking trail clean ups, we use only eco fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles. All of Swiministas packaging and boxes are recycled and or compostable, we feel every little bit helps clean up our world.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Don’t give up, lead by example and call people out who try to tear you down, there is no room for jealousy or laziness on any team.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
I know you have heard this before but communication is key! Stay focused and never lose sight of your goals and share them and inform your team. It is vital to assemble a strong strategic team especially with a larger team and keep up moral, even in the hard times.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are many people who have helped me along the way, my childhood life long friend who believed in Swiminista was instrumental, my other dear friends from childhood and the Fashion Industry have all played a big part in helping us, sometimes a phone call from someone who is connected can help change your entire business.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Recycling and being eco-conscious has always been a big part of who I am, by using materials that are made from recycled plastic bottles and compostable and recycled materials help make a difference in the recovery of the damage we have all done to our Earth. The world didn’t get polluted overnight so reversing the effects won’t happen overnight either but if we can all do our parts, we will help heal Mother Nature.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Don’t Panic, inevitably things will go wrong but keeping calm will help navigate through the obstacles. When a style was delivered sewn wrong, I took a breath and dealt with the issue from the factory and offered a discount to my customers for their patience, due to the late delivery.
- Work hard and show your team that no job is to big or too small, everyone matters and everyone needs to work outside of their “job Descriptions” . We had an extremely large shipment early on while we were still understaffed and I started taping boxes, filling orders and processing invoices. When I jumped in the warehouse some of my staff was surprised, and wondered how I knew how to do the “manual labor”. I have had to do every aspect of what it takes to build a brand and when they saw that first hand, from that day on everyone has worked harder and worked better as a team.
- Leading my team through these especially difficult times due to the Pandemic has taught me the power of positivity, it’s easy to kill morale and look at everything with doom and gloom but I stood strong and shifted our sales model, redesigned our website and streamlined our shipping procedures. Having the ability to pivot and actually increase our sales.
- Take the high road, this is easier said then done however at the end of the day you are more likely to have any regrets and people will respect you. I had to deal with someone trying to lie and cheat us at the factory, and instead of resorting to his level of anger and curse words, I remained poised, clear and firm, but trust me it was hard, I really wanted to lay into him, afterwards I received several emails from his staff siding with me and giving me props for holding my ground and taking the high road.
- Listen, truly listening to other entrepreneurs, customers, the market and the world is vital. There have been customers that have shared their “dream suit” if I had dismissed them I would not have our number one seller, the “Cheerful one piece suit. Listening helps your business in ways that you normally would not have thought of.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Kindness! It seriously makes me physically sick when I see injustice and unkindness. A movement of kindness can apply to every aspect of Life, being kind to ourselves, the earth, animals and each other, try acts of kindness and see how it makes you and others feel.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death, you must LIVE LIVE LIVE”
I try to live life to the fullest, look at the glass half full, take every opportunity that comes my way. Dance in the rain, and smile!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Sara Blakely, problem solved and made women feel confident while being a strong business woman, mother, wife, philanthroper and mentor. Sara exemplifies the true entrepreneur and mompreneur, all the while looking fabulous and poised. Truly inspiring!
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