Hi, Tell us your name, what you do, and about your business Elka Swim.
My name is Holly Spillane and I am an international fashion designer. I am the co-owner & creator of luxury Australian swimwear brand, Elka Swim.
At Elka Swim, we want to give women worldwide more choice, variety & options with our versatile mix & match multifaceted swimwear that makes you feel good. We endeavor to bring out, encourage & celebrate individuality through our unique pieces.
We understand everyone is different and we have created a stunning collection that lets women create their own unique set of bikinis that reflect their own mood & personality. We create really unique products like a seamless reversible bikini, or seamless bikini swimsuit and more.
We compete with brands like Lovely lady lumps swimwear in the global market, however, primarily operate in the Australian market currently.
We promote a happy, healthy & balanced lifestyle and live by the 80/20 rule.
What’s your own background. Were you always proficient in this business, or did it just strike your mind one fine day?
For the last 10 years, I have worked in the radio industry as a radio announcer. I had my own show from 9 am – 12 pm Monday to Friday & was the Group social media manager for 3 of our radio stations. When I hit my 30’s and started thinking about having a family I wanted to be able to raise them & not have them in daycare 5 days a week, so I thought about starting my own business.
As I was raised by the ocean & grew-up surfing, being in the water in my bikinis was something that was familiar to me so I thought about creating a bikini business.
I started researching, contacting manufacturers, looking at samples but It wasn’t until my father passed away that I really started going hard at it.
What went into designing the initial product? Can you take us through the actual process?
At first, we needed to think about the print we wanted to represent us. We wanted it to reflect our love of music. My partner & I were doing a lot of camping trips & vibing on Fleetwood Mac & we loved Stevie Nicks, so we knew we wanted our print to reflect that.
We called our collection called Stevie & all the pieces are named after Fleetwood Mac songs. And we wanted the colors to reflect our love of crystals: turquoise & amethyst.
In terms of styles, we wanted them to be able to be mixed & matched while being seamless, reversible, adjustable & multifaceted to help our customer save money while feeling good about themselves.
Talk us through the process of the launch of your business
To be honest we had our head in the clouds weren’t aware of how big launch could be & what went into it. We had a month long trip to Europe planned and know we needed to get everything done before we left so we were ready to launch when we got back.
In one week organised an entire shoot with photographers, models, make-up artists etc & did the shoot on the 7th day.
When we got back from overseas everything went from bad to worst. We were still chasing our professional photos, our web builder screwed up our website (and we missed the soft launch), & the night before launch our website still wasn’t working. We ended up launching on time then ran a solid influence marketing campaign for 3 months.
How is your repeat customer rate like? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?
Our repeat customer rate is about 50%. We find that people will buy a set from us then once they see & love the product, they come back to buy an additional bottom or top to add to their set.
We have used social media to both attract and retain our customers.
To attach our customers we have a comprehensive social media strategy in place. But what we love about social media is we are able to reach out to them before & after a sales to build & maintain a human 2 human connection – which a lot of businesses today are forgetting to do.
What is the current situation? How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?
Our current situation sees us getting some major international exposure in Vanity Fair, Tatler Magazine & GQ magazine & have come on board as a sponsor for the national reality television awards in the UK.
In the next 12 months, we hope to broaden our scope to the US market and build a closer connection with the Australian market. We also hope to build/ create a stronger online community that promotes a happy, healthy & balanced lifestyle.
We will also be launching our second collection which would include items like seamless reversible bikini and more.
As a woman founder, do you see this as only financially uplifting? Or otherwise too? If yes, then how?
This is not just financially uplifting but personally uplifting too. I hope to build a community of real women who are living by their own rules and who are happy, healthy and living a balanced lifestyle.
I love the freedom of being my own boss, I love being able to dictate when & why I do things & most of all I love that I am able to surround myself with like-minded people.
This isn’t just about having money in the bank, it’s about living the life I want.
What tools or services did you use?
The best service I have committed to was getting a business coach, early on. The awesome Pru Chapman from Owners collective is about building a strong, supporting community not just around her but the people she mentors.
The best tools I have used to help guide me through this journey is good old Google. This has helped me so much & so have YouTube videos 🙂 . I am also big when it comes to being apart of online women business groups & of course Facebook is the place I head to most.
Another great service is Collabosaurus which is about connecting brand & brands together to make meaningful collaborations.
What are your key challenges today. How are you planning to tackle those?
The biggest challenges to date have been being too relaxed when it comes to dealing with people we employ, from marketing people to web designers, photographer & influencers.
My partner & I are really trusting people and a result we have been walked over or taken advantage of which has cost us a lot of money. We plan to stay true to who we are but make sure we are clear with the outcomes we are after & having contracts in place in case it happens again.
Which are some resources, books, articles or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers
During my start-up journey, I looked to some helpful resources but didn’t want to overwhelm myself so i just stuck with a few credible ones.
The books I read were:
- Simon Sinek ‘Start with Why’
- ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
- Roxy’s Little Black Book of tips & trick by Roxy Jacenko.
- Stevie says social by Stevie dillion
- One wild ride by Pru chapman
As well as the Facebook page groups: Likeminded bitches drinking wine & Launching legends.
Many a times, women feel that businesses are for only for men. What’s your take?
There has been a massive wave of women starting up businesses & I love that.
I think we all need to work together, both men & women. We all think differently & have different qualities & instead of fighting it, I think we should work together to make great things happen.
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Looking to kick start your own venture?
Hi ! This is Misha ?
My idea is for other women to get inspired by these actionable tell all stories and start their own profitable enterprises.
I am hugely inspired by inspirational interview series starters like IndieHackers, StarterStory by Pat Walls, Failory, SpaceBandits and have put significant efforts in reaching out to women founders in order to gt started.