Written by The Strategy
Girl Boss. She.E.O. It’s time for the world to realize that the future is, well, female. There are so many female entrepreneurs who inspire us and we wanted to know more about how they got their companies off the ground. Welcome to our new series: The Future Is Female, where we sit down with inspiring female entrepreneurs and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how their companies operate.
Meet Hyla Nayeri and Adrien Bettio. Toronto-native BFF’s who launched 437 Swimwear right out of university. 437 Swimwear launched in 2016 and since, has become a favourite to social media influencers and normies, like us, alike. We sat down with Co-Founder, Hyla Nayeri to learn more about what it takes to run a blossoming swimwear brand.
What made you start 437 Swimwear?
Adrien and I were both in Queen’s University Commerce, and we found that none of the four avenues that they push most students to go into fit us. We just knew it wasn’t for us. In third year, we met on the Almalfi Coast and we loved the sort of living. We thought about what occupations allowed us to live like that, but also an occupation that we were passionate about. Adrien was interning at Hugo Boss at the time. I was working at an Entrepreneur Incubator working on a business that I wasn’t passionate about. So we thought, “You know what? We have an interest in fashion, I’ve got an entrepreneur background, and we’re obsessed with bathing suits. Let’s try this out. Maybe we’ll sell some bathing suits and we’ll get travel money.” So we started with a minimal viable product and tested out the market with it. Our demographic was more university students, looking for cheaper price points. We surprisingly were doing well. It was funny because we had made $1000 on Black Friday. Once we did that, we thought, “We could take this full time!” In the grande scheme, that was 15 orders. We didn’t do any recruiting and we started this right out of university. We went to China and actually designed something that we were proud of. We rebranded the entire business. We lived in Bali for a month; worked on the website and shot some content. There’s been some low points, but now, we’re getting to the highs.
What was the biggest struggle when you first started?
Followers! Getting followers and getting to become a legitimate business. It was really hard to get people to take a swimsuit brand with 1000 followers seriously. It was really hard. We reached out to influencers who wouldn’t answer. Our peers wouldn’t take us seriously. The hardest part was the growth where we weren’t being taken seriously. Our business is very social media focused, so we couldn’t be taken seriously until at least 10,000 followers.
How did you come up with the name?
We launched the business in the summer of 2016 and we were living in the house number 437. We were living on 437 Johsnon St., and one of our pieces is also called ‘The Johnson’. In our first collection, every piece was named after someone or someplace that influenced us when we started the business.
What inspires 437 Swimwear the most?
Nowadays, what really inspires us is the experience we have with our customers. We treat each customer like a friend, and we don’t want to let them down. What inspires us is trying to make them happy and more confident. We want girls to feel like this is the suit you don’t need to diet for. These bathing suits need to be able to flatter every body size.
What was the moment you realized you were making it?
We’re always going to be working towards it. Even if we think we’ve made it, we’ll still be working towards it. The first moment though, was when we were on @TammyHembrow and she tagged us. That moment for me was like, hustle pays off. Once we hired our first full-time employee, it felt real. It’s only going to keep growing from here.
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
My advice is to not focus on the little aspects of the business in its beginning stages and to just launch it. Worry about the perfect logo, the perfect website, and the perfect product once you’ve gained some traction. We iterate our business all the time. The 437 that you see now is not the same 437 that launched two years ago. We’ve made so many changes along the way as we learned more about the swimwear industry and as understood what niche we wanted to be part of.