Avid Swim Designer, Gionna Nicole, Shares How Retail Experience & Summers At the Beach Helped Build Her Brand

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Avid Swim, who was once accepted on the Official Calendar of the Council of Fashion Designers America (CFDA), emerged on the fashion scene in 2010 and has since earned a reputation as a premiere luxury swimwear brand with collections that are interchangeable and can also be used as Ready-To-Wear pieces. In 2014, Avid Swim was named a Fashion 500 Honoree for their outstanding work. Last year they participated in New York Fashion Week. The brand is making quite an impact in the world of swimwear fashion.

Avid Swim designer, Gionna Nicole, spoke on why she started the line and where she intends on taking the brand.

Why did you start Avid Swim?
I started designing swimwear by accident, I spent a lot of time on the beach with my family growing up, and I was always in beach wear. I designed my own suit and the compliments and request began coming in, so I began Avid Swim.

What were you doing (career wise) before you launched Avid Swim? Is this your full-time job?
I was a visual merchandising manager at Forever 21 for 5 years while building my brand. I have now been able to make Avid Swim my full time job.

How much did you have to initially invest to get the line up and running?
I started out with $8,000 to begin Avid Swim, which helped to develop the initial structure of the website and swimwear samples. Over the past 2 years I have invested over $17,000 into the brand. Developing the site, which we’re preparing to launch again, was very challenging since, yes, we are exclusively sold online. It was important to visibly capture our clients’ interests. Having a simple purchasing process was, and still is, important for the success of the brand.

How did you learn about the design to market process?
Working in retail definitely allowed the opportunity to understand buyer behavior and how to recognize and cater to my target. I had a chance to also work in a luxury retailer as a visual merchandiser as well as showroom assisting, gave me an insider view on design to market techniques. I was also learning first hand how to appeal to buyers and bring a line from a sketch book to clients. Education is important to me; I am a sponge. In addition to first hand experience I attended any and every workshop I could on business and marketing.

When/what happened that made you realize the brand was taking off?
When I launched the public online store in 2015 I was afraid I would have minimal sales, the first day up I received 3 sales and 4 months later the first collection was sold out , I realized people really loved my swimwear.

How did the collection make it to fashion week last year and what does that milestone mean to you?

I reached out to many platforms to present in fashion week, and they had all passed deadlines for entry. About a week later, one production company said someone cancelled, and I was able to take their slot. It was a blessing. From then on it was a struggle keeping up, developing a new collection. Production time was cut in half, and I was months behind other designers, and I was the first show. The pressure was intense, but I kept my cool and pushed forward.

What were some exact steps you had to take to ensure that your desires were accepted?
I reached out to platforms like STYLE fashion week to produce my show as well as Milk Studios, Mercedes-Benz, IMG, and I filled out the application and sent over my portfolio for review.

What’s next for Avid Swim? How far do you want to take the brand/collection?
Avid Swim will be the go to designer brand for swimwear, and continue to be independently owned and managed. We hope to expand to boutiques in other cities and have both a physical and online presence.

Check out some of their designs below.

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