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This Body-Positive Swimwear Brand Makes a Big Splash in Impact

Vanessa Childers February 21, 2020
Photos by ©LaurenBrown

Initially driven by an entrepreneurship assignment, Leah Sullivan, Delaney Drexler, and Summer Morgan created the idea for Peachy Keen Swim while attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. After winning their class’s pitching competition, the three students decided to launch the body-positive swimwear brand — in part because of their own personal female-coded issues, like dealing with a post-pregnancy body or unlearning the way teenage girls are taught to think about their figures, but also because they felt strongly about providing consumers with an alternative to fast-fashion swimwear, which has huge costs to not just the environment but also to the people making it.

The Peachy Keen Swim team is committed to producing their suits sweatshop-free in downtown Los Angeles, where they know their manufacturers are being paid fairly and working in a clean and safe work environment. The company offers a range of sizes from XS to 5X and promise to never retouch their models, showcasing a diverse range of beauty. They ship with fully compostable mailers to implement sustainability throughout their supply chain, and their next collection is set to be produced with materials made from recycled water bottles and ocean plastics. Oh, and their alternative sizing labels are pretty darn fun.

We caught up with the three female founders to learn more about the birth of their business, their thoughts on radical transparency, the next stage of Peachy Keen’s growth, lessons for social entrepreneurs, and so much more.

Co-founders of Peachy Keen Swim (from left): Delaney Drexler, Summer Morgan, Leah Sullivan

I’m interested in the inspiration behind Peachy Keen. What is its origin story?

Leah Sullivan, Delaney Drexler, and Summer Morgan: The three of us met studying Entrepreneurship at Loyola Marymount University in the spring of 2018, and were tasked with choosing an industry and examining all of its areas for improvement.

Throughout our time in college, we became more and more aware of the environmental and social impacts of the clothes that we wear, and wanted to create a positive change in the industry. Fashion is the fifth-largest polluting industry in the world, and our planet will not be able to sustain our current fashion practices much longer.

On top of wanting to create an environmental and social change in the fashion industry, we have also recognized how damaging the media portrayal of women’s bodies can be. Out of all areas in the fashion industry, we knew that swimwear was the industry that had made us feel the most self-conscious and vulnerable throughout the years, and wanted to create a body-positive brand that celebrates the beauty of all body types.

Recognizing these pain points in the industry led us to create the idea for Peachy Keen Swim. We wanted to create a swimwear brand that labeled sizes by words of empowerment rather than traditional numbers sizes. So instead of saying you are “size large,” you would say you are a size “Confident Queen,” which we hope would inspire our community to feel more comfortable wearing their swimsuits. 

With a mission of empowerment, we knew we wanted to produce sweatshop-free in our local community, where we knew the workers producing our clothes are being paid fairly and operating a clean and safe working environment. 

At the end of our class, we had to pitch our business idea to a panel of entrepreneurs, and ended up winning the competition and making connections to a swimsuit manufacturer. A few months later we decided to pursue creating this company, and have been working on it ever since.

Any stories/insights on getting funded?

LS, DD, and SM: Fundraising can be tedious and discouraging, but it’s important to stay positive and explore alternatives to traditional funding avenues when you are just starting out. We decided our brand would be better suited to raise funds through a kickstarter at first, rather than seeking formal investments, and we are also applying for various grants in order to receive funds without giving up equity. … We launched a Kickstarter where we raised over $21,000 in 30 days, raising $10,000 in the first day alone. We were so thrilled to see that other people were interested in our business and what we stand for. 

What does “conscious leadership” mean to you? Do you have any best practices to help yourself become and embody conscious leadership?

LS, DD, and SM: We understand that as business owners, we hold a lot of responsibility to our consumers and the general public. We put this to practice by striving to maintain radical transparency throughout every step of our process. To us, radical transparency is key because it means that whether it’s good or disappointing news, our community is aware of it. It allows us to create an honest relationship with our community and becoming a trusted brand is a goal we are striving for. 

What is the most important thing in your life right now?

LS, DD, and SM: The most important thing we are focused on with our business is growth. We are proud of the ground work we laid throughout our first year of business, and are excited to spend this year focusing on streamlining production and growing sales.

What is the largest challenge that you’re facing right now?

LS, DD, and SM: Raising funds to produce our next collection. We’re so grateful for the funds we were able to raise for our signature collection and it’s motivated us to put together a second collection that we’re so proud of, but of course, growth costs money when it comes to business and that is something we’re currently trying to navigate in a way that makes sense for us and our brand.  

What is giving you hope for the future?

LS, DD, and SM: The main thing giving us hope for the future is the support we have gotten so far. We have received so many incredible comments from our customers telling us how our company has helped them learn to love themselves and become a better version of who they really are. That is truly why we started this company. We have all dealt with many struggles related to body image, and hearing that we are helping others with this is really the main thing that is pushing us forward. We can’t wait to become an even more impactful company and push our message to even bigger audiences.

What are your top 3 lessons for social entrepreneurs?

SM: You are so much more capable than you think. I feel like we hold ourselves back so much in life worrying about whether you can do something or what others will think. If you can push past that, and just try something for yourself, you will be amazed by what you can accomplish. Also, ASK FOR HELP! You are not weak for asking for help; you are smart! As women, we need to have each others’ backs and you would be surprised how many people will be willing to help you!

DD: This is a difficult life path to choose, but you can absolutely do it if the passion is there. Remember that it’s totally okay to feel discouraged from time to time and remind yourself that this is supposed to be hard. Keep pushing through because you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish — and there is no better feeling than looking back and saying, “Wow, I built that.” I’ve done a lot of things in the last five years that I never thought I was capable of, and I was able to do them because I listened to my passion. I’m proud of myself for that. 

LS: If you are passionate about something, don’t let anything hold you back from pursuing it. I had a lot of doubts and fears before starting this business, and once I let go of that fear and decided to pursue it, the support we have gotten has been mindblowing. The more I work on Peachy Keen, the more motivated I am to work harder because I find it so fulfilling. I would encourage any young woman to believe in herself, pursue her passions, and bet that they can achieve more than they thought they could.

Equity and Inclusion / Social Entrepreneurship / Stakeholder Capitalism
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