In 2013, Rebecca Klodinsky’s sister came home with a bikini so expensive she’d spent six weeks paying it off on lay-buy.
“At the time there was a real hole in the market for good swimwear at reasonable prices. You were either spending $200 to $250, or you went to Target and Kmart. They were the only real options,” the 29-year-old explains.
Rebecca’s sister’s swimwear experience turned out to be the catalyst that propelled her to create Frankie Swimwear, a label she was determined to make affordable, without sacrificing on quality and design.
“It’s basic and it’s reliable and that’s always been what I’ve wanted to do,” says Rebecca.
“There are a lot of brands out there with bright colours and new cuts and a lot of complicated designs, and Frankie is not that and I think that’s what keeps people coming back.”
As a 24-year-old university student completing a double degree in Psychology and Forensic Psychology and working part-time, Rebecca didn’t have the budget to hire web developers or designers, so she did it all herself.
Yes, all of it.
“I spent a lot of time on YouTube learning how to read code and how to build code and I built the website. Now if anything needs fixing I don’t have to go to a developer, I know what to do. My team will come to me and say, ‘the emails are stuffed’ or ‘the website’s this’ and I can fix it straightaway,” the entrepreneur explains.
The bikini designs. Sourcing the perfect lycra. Product images. Social media. Rebecca worked tirelessly to launch her brand in November 2013, and the initial reception was promising.
“The very first sale was someone that was an acquaintance – not even a friend – which is what took me by surprise. It was so cool, I was thinking ‘oh, wow, someone wants it’,” explains Rebecca.
“Sales started to come through slowly and then increased steadily.”
Rebecca spent all hours packaging orders on the floor in her kitchen, and when it was clear the business was booming, she deferred university to focus on her “baby” full time.
The company now turns over $7 million in revenue every year and is still producing their signature designs at a reasonable price point (swim tops start at $40 and bottoms start at $45).
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Frankie Swimwear’s bikinis have been worn by the likes of Rihanna, Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Kris Jenner, Bella Hadid and Kim Kardashian West recently put in an order to try the swimwear for herself.
Not bad, right?
Rebecca credits much of Frankie Swimwear’s success to “catching the Instagram wave” (the brand has 242,000 followers currently) just as the social media app was taking off.
“I was there at the right time with the right product, there was a hole in the market and we fit it – it was all about timing. Our following is organic, it’s not bought and it’s not forced, it’s just people telling their friends, and their friends telling their friends,” says Rebecca.
While Frankie Swimwear’s Instagram influence is undeniable, Rebecca’s tenacity and smarts have seen the brand stay relevant and ahead of its competitors in what is now a cluttered market. Her advice to other budding entrepreneurs?
“Stay in your lane and stay focused on what you’re doing. It’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing but thinking, ‘it’s working for them, so I’ll just copy what they’re doing’ will only help you to lose your authenticity,” advises Rebecca.
With showings at New York Fashion Week in 2016 and Paris Fashion Week in 2017 and the newly launched Frankie Bebe range, it’s clear Frankie Swimwear is just getting started.
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