Getting her feet wet
Senior Emma Canty explores her own bathing suit company
When senior Emma Canty and her older sister Lauren launched L&E Bikinis in August. The idea for the company came from her frustration at the lack of perfect-fitting bathing suits at an affordable price.
“I thought to myself, ‘If no one is going to sell me one at a reasonable price why don’t I just make them,” Canty said.
And that is exactly what she and her sister did. Last month, they split $700 in the cost of a sewing machine, materials, and other expenses to get the idea off the ground.
“My sister and I both love bikinis and have always wanted to start a bikini company, but we never had the time to actually take the risk and invest,” Lauren said.
Before getting started, Canty had to learn how to use the sewing machine.
“It’s so time consuming to make stuff by hand. Before I thought, they probably just do a thing or two and send it off somewhere it’s done, but once I started doing it I realized that it takes hours to make stuff,” Canty said.
The process was long, as Canty wanted to experiment the longevity and wear of her products before selling it. They made three bathing suits to test at the beach, lake, pool and even did some wake surfing to make sure the colors did not fade, the material did not wear away, and the straps did not tear.
“If we were going to start selling, we wanted to make sure that it was worth our time and we weren’t going to sell people some low end product,” Canty said. “People are always looking for a good quality bathing suit and we don’t want to rip people off.”
After the successful test period, they were able to start selling tops to friends in their area, but decided to take the business nationally. In their third week of production, they received orders from North Carolina and even Hawaii.
“I try to get these types of orders done as fast as possible because I know there is a shipping date,” Canty said. “We are trying to integrate that which is new for us because everyone was ordering locally before.”
When an order comes in, she will attempt to finish a bikini in two to three days after the order is placed, since all orders are custom made, to maintain a personal touch for the brand.
“I try to make it as personalized as possible so the buyer knows that their money is going into something with people that actually care,” Canty said.
Customers can pick which color patterns they want, what type of cut, and a variety in sizes for each piece with no additional charge, at a fraction of the prices that big-name companies sell for.
To get this information out for customers, Lauren created a company Instagram, @L.e_bikinis, to post finished products to engage with customers by posting finished products on their feed, along with staying personalized by letting the customer know the status of their order in real time. They have also recently begun developing a website.
Even though her company is gaining traction with multiple orders, her ultimate goal is to get a scholarship to play college soccer, and to raise money through her business to attend medical school. She wants to be an obstetrics and gynecology specialist to take care of newborns and their mothers.
She practices soccer, plays in sports games, and manages Top Dog Car Wash. Now she balances all of that with the creation of her new bathing suit company.
“The main goal is to get some side money for college, but if this really picks up and I feel like I can take it somewhere, then I might need to reconsider,” Canty said.
There are a lot of details that go into the economic side like any other business. She considers pricing for colors and patterns on the material, and determines whether or not to restock a certain color or style dependent on the order history. They also recently changed their prices from $15 to $20 due to the time and cost of labor and material.
“We have to keep monitoring our price margins and make sure they are good, and if not we might have to change some things,” Canty said.
Even though they are sisters, and this can sometimes come with a little bit of tension, they both found the middle ground to make this company successful.
“There can be some butting heads but we always find a way to compromise or talk about the situation and come to an agreement,” her sister Lauren said. “But we are a team when it comes to our company and it will not grow into what we pictured it to be if we are not a team.”