9 March 2017 11:00
Bodds Swimwear - From Idea To Reality
An entrepreneurial Cornish mum is making waves with her new brand of swimwear.
Bodds swimwear offers teens and younger girls more choice when it comes to choosing bikinis and fills a gap in the market between children’s and adults’ active swim clothing. Founder Claire Scipio developed her idea with the support of Breakthrough, an ERDF-funded programme helping new businesses succeed, and is now in the process of manufacturing her female-friendly range of costumes in time for the start of summer.
She says she came up with the idea after a fruitless shopping trip with her 14-year-old daughter. She wanted a bikini but the choice on the high street was push-up padding and string bikinis, childish immature styles or frumpy sportswear. Claire desperately wanted her daughter to look and feel good but was frustrated by the styles in the shops or online. So she started sketching swimwear ideas herself and Bodds Swimwear was born.
With no experience or training in fashion or product development – she’s been working in education while juggling life as a single mum – Claire got in touch with Breakthrough, which is delivered by Oxford Innovation in partnership with Unlocking Potential. She says she came along to an initial two-day start-up workshop to develop her idea further but felt very under-confident. Over the course of the two days, Claire was offered a wealth of really valuable information, such as the fundamentals of running a business, as well as crucially having the opportunity to discuss her ideas with Oxford Innovation’s coaches and Unlocking Potential’s Business Development Managers.
“When I walked into that room, I tiptoed in and I tried to hide behind people. I knew my idea was strong but I had no self-belief as this was so far out of my comfort zone. With a lot of poking, prodding and prompting from my Business Development Manager, I began to feel that I could do this and I could handle anything that was thrown at me.
“I came out of the workshop shouting about my business and I’ve not stopped since. As a direct result of Breakthrough, I’ve had opportunities and made connections that I wouldn’t have had without their support, meaning that idea I had is now a reality.”
She says a huge step forward in the evolution of her business came through working with Surfers Against Sewage co-founder and Oxford Innovation business coach Chris Hines. After consulting with Chris, Claire has cultivated an ethos of environmental responsibility which permeates throughout the brand, even down to the product materials being upcycled from regenerated fishing nets. Claire is clear that she wants Bodds Swimwear to be an active player in sustainable fashion by being kind to the planet without preaching. Her Business Development Manager Lucy Cox says this example of a can-do approach has been key.
“Although it has been a roller coaster with plenty of scary bits, Claire has harnessed the fear and just gone for it. Her ability to build relationships and rapport has inevitably opened doors, but her incredibly strong business idea has provided the momentum to keep her moving forward.”
Claire will welcome in her first line of swimwear in the early summer; in the meantime, she’s busy collaborating with some high profile brand ambassadors, particularly in the surfing world. She’s also been lining up stockists to complement her e-commerce website and has a growing list of pre-sales on the order books from word of mouth and focus groups alone. As a result, there are plans to develop new styles as Claire admits she was surprised by the interest from women of all ages for well-fitted, non-skimpy, fashionable swimwear. She’s busy but excited.
“There is still plenty of work to be done but I honestly believe without the help of Breakthrough I would still be just talking about my ‘idea’ instead of promoting my business to potential investors and supporters.
“The change in the business and the change in me has been monumental. There's no doubt this past year has been the hardest thing I've ever done, but I wouldn't change anything. It's made me more determined to succeed.”