Karina was fired from her job. Then she turned $800 into an enormous bikini empire.

One young Australian has turned being fired and the modest loan of $800 from her father into a global business empire.

Karina Irby, 27, launched hugely successful swimwear label Moana Bikini six years ago after she was let go from her job at a local surf shop.

Irby told The Gold Coast Bulletin how the roots of her success grew from the unexpected rejection.

“I was embarrassed I was fired. I knew the person I am — I’m really nice, good at my job. I thought those people were my friends and there was this family thing going on,” she said.

“Then I thought screw it, everyone had always said to me I should do my own bikini line, so that’s what I did.”

The 27-year-old launched her business with 20 pairs of bikinis and a website she built herself. Irby watched as her brand expanded, order by order, bikini by bikini, until it commanded almost half a million fans on Instagram alone.

A photo posted by KARINA IRBY (@karinairby) on

Irby may stand behind a label renowned for its playful pictures of women lounging on beaches but the reality couldn’t be further from her Instagram feed.

The entrepreneur told The Gold Coast Bulletin  the past six years had seen her in a constant state of work.

“In reality I’m in my pyjamas at a computer desk,” she said.


“People definitely don’t get to see the real me that often.

“We portray this really easy work space and other girls think it’s easy, but the reality of business is that you don’t stop.”

The humble beginnings of the $800 loan from her father was not forgotten as Irby used her success to assist her ailing father.

“Dad pushed me to do Moana so much and lent me that initial $800. So Moana has helped me care for my dad now,” she said.

“There was one point where the medication and pain killers he was taking that his teeth were rotting and falling out and he was in pain and it was getting him down.”

“Because of Moana I could arrange for him to have his teeth fixed.”

A photo posted by KARINA IRBY (@karinairby) on

Irby may now appear like the ultimate carefree beach babe but her photogenic confidence has comes after years of self-doubt and schoolyard teasing.

“I do have quite a big bum and I would get teased about that too. I was so self-conscious I would wear shorts and cover my legs,” she said.

“I thought I looked bad but through high school I became more carefree. I thought, you know what, you can say whatever you want to me but I know who I am and I’m proud of who I am.”

Moana Bikinis plans to launch 50,000 pieces of swimwear for their summer release.

Feature image via Instagram @karinairby.