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When Natasha Oakley and her best friend, Devin Brugman, created their blog, A Bikini a Day, in 2012, they had no idea their passion project would eventually turn into a multimillion-dollar global brand. The site, which expanded to feature fitness, travel and lifestyle content, was, at its core, a platform to celebrate curves and the diversity of women’s bodies. Oakley and Burgman’s ability to cater to that gap in the swimwear market, however, was the catalyst for the duo to launch Monday Swimwear in 2014.
“When we started A Bikini a Day [there weren’t a lot of swimwear options] that were beautiful, that fit women’s curves and that made women feel confident. Everything just didn’t fit quite right. We were featuring the best that we could, but it still wasn’t up to the standards that we would have liked,” Oakley said on the latest episode of The Glossy Podcast. “So we thought, ‘We just need to create our own brand. We’re so passionate about swim, so let’s go for it.'”
The brand’s expansive range of sizes, along with its quality products and the built-in community that came from it being founded by influencers, has helped it grow. According to Oakley, in 2022 alone, Monday Swimwear organically grew 30%.
For Oakley, Monday Swimwear was just the beginning of her journey as a founder and investor. In 2020, the serial entrepreneur launched an online exercise platform called The Pilates Class alongside Jacqui Kingswell, which grew 22% in the 2022, she said. And most recently, she invested in jewelry brand Emma Pills.
Though Oakley has many projects on her plate, she said her main priority is continuing to grow and expand Monday Swimwear. The brand plans to expand into international markets, as well as launch retail locations.
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Strategically growing an influencer brand
“Marketing is one of our top investments, alongside the operational costs and the costs of goods. It obviously helps to have the audience that [Devin and I do as influencers], especially when you’re launching a brand and getting it off the ground. We sell completely direct-to-consumer, and I don’t think we would have been able to take that route … [if we weren’t] able to plug into our existing audience pretty early on and get them genuinely excited about the brand. But if you don’t have a good product and you can’t follow through with something that people genuinely love, there’s no point in even having a following. With Monday, we have a 50% return customer rate, which is very high, and that’s because people genuinely love the product. When they put it on, they feel confident, they feel sexy, they have a real, positive moment with this swimwear that, in a very saturated swim market with a lot of brands online, people don’t always have. … We do rely a lot on our audiences and we want to see our audiences grow, but at the same time, we want these brands to be successful in their own right. … We’ve built the brand in a way that, if we need to step away at any point in time, it has its own customer base and its own following. There are a lot of people who follow the brands who don’t even know who Devin and I are, so that’s a great thing, as well.”
Standing out in the sea of swimwear
“[Having a wide range of sizes] is definitely a huge point of difference for Monday. We even created our own range called the ‘Voluptuous Range,’ or the ‘V Range,’ because we don’t want to be calling anyone extra-large. We have sizes V, Double V and Triple V, so you’re either very voluptuous or very, very voluptuous. We want our women to feel beautiful and sexy, no matter what their size is in the range. We got up to a US size 18 and a G cup, which is very unique for a swim brand. And we [the styles on models], all the way up to the largest size. We’re not a trends-based brand; we’re all about the fit and all the colors we come out with, and we always want them to be flattering on every single skin tone. Even with our models online, we always use different skin tones to show our customers what a style would look like on their skin tone. …. And we make sure the fit is good on every body type. The way we feel is that going to the beach shouldn’t be intimidating or nerve-wracking or a negative experience in any way. We are beach girls; we grew up on the beach. And we called it Monday Swimwear because, if you’re in a bikini on a Monday, you’re having a really good day. That’s a unique thing. …. I am proud to say we were a big part of the body positivity movement on social media from the beginning. It’s something all brands need to encourage and be on-board with now, but it’s something we’ve been speaking about since day one. So it was always very important for us to expand that size range and make sure everyone feels beautiful in this swim.”
The importance of refreshing and rebranding
“Monday had a little bit of a glow-up [in 2022]. We worked with two really amazing digital branding agencies. The reason that we wanted to give it this little zhoosh is because, as a brand over the years, your designs develop, your image as a brand develops, what you represent as a brand develops, and it’s an ever-changing thing. You need your branding to keep up with that. That’s not to mention the fact that, in this day and age, people have access to so many more platforms that allow them to upgrade their branding, and everyone’s starting to kind of look the same, in my eyes. We wanted to show, ‘What is Monday, and what is it about?’ [We had to figure out] how to show that through our brand’s image and our branding very easily and directly to our customers. … [Monday Swimwear] is a global brand. It’s competing on a global level, and it needs to align with our biggest competitors. [The branding] needs to be super easy and user-friendly for our customers and members. That is something we want to focus on, on an ongoing basis. … Certain things with regard to your branding or your technology can very easily fall behind. We want to have our finger on the pulse there and consistently be upgrading those things to make our customers’ experience even better.”