Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman cofounded Monday Swimwear in 2014 with a $30,000 loan. Now, the company is on track to do $20 million in annual revenue before 2022.
With no venture capital funding, the company has doubled revenue yearly since its founding.
Oakley credits social media marketing and their unique vision with the brand’s success, and shares the strategies she and Brugman utilized to get to where they are.
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In 2014, a gap in the swimwear market meant opportunity for Monday Swimwear cofounders Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman.
After the launch of their “A Bikini A Day” blog in 2012 — a passion project for the pair prior to their swimwear brand — Oakley and Brugman realized that the thousands of bikinis they tested, often in partnership with advertisers, were never quite up to par.
Seeing a gap in the market for high-quality, on-trend swimwear that could cater to larger cup sizes and accommodate a diverse range of body types, they decided to fill the demand themselves.
Starting out with a $30,000 loan, Oakley and Brugman produced the first Monday Swimwear collection and fulfilled orders out of their shared two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. With the exact market exposure they’d need given their extensive swimwear-loving, largely female social media following — which now tops four million — sales took off right away. “Our first collection sold out within two weeks of launch,” Oakley said.
Now, still operating out of Los Angeles but with a small team of eight employees, Monday’s product line has expanded to three seasonal collections and a year-round best-selling signature collection. Adamant about the company’s structure as a direct-to-consumer company, the cofounders have grown to selling over 20,000 suits a month, which are shipped through the team’s logistics partners in Southern California, Sydney, and London.
Monday was profitable in year one, and has remained so ever since, doubling revenue each year.
“We have never pitched the brand to any venture capital firms or sought after any external investment,” Oakley told Business Insider, saying that she and Brugman have rejected opportunities to sell. “It’s always been important for us to have total control over the business’ decisions and direction.”
Now ranking as one of the largest swimwear brands in the industry, Monday frequently appears on celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Khloe Kardashian, and Jennifer Lopez, and the cofounders said it’s on track to do $20 million in annual revenue before 2022.
Using the savvy the pair have acquired from years of entrepreneurship and trial and error, Oakley and Brugman’s success comes as the result of a perfected approach that utilizes flexibility, market insight, customer feedback, and a whole lot of social media.
They shared the strategies behind their success with Business Insider.
A flexible business plan
Anticipating customer engagement and expected revenues is critical, according to Oakley.
“In the practical sense, we use a pretty straightforward approach. We project revenue goals about 18 months out and work backward from there to ensure we have the product, marketing budget, and ideas to support those goals,” Oakley said.
“We try to remain as fluid and reactive as possible, which can be challenging as a retail company,” she added. “We plan our frameworks far in advance but reanalyze goals, budgets and marketing initiatives on a biweekly and sometimes weekly basis to ensure we are being sensitive to our customers needs and experiences.”
Perfect your social media marketing
With a few million followers amassed between their blogs, Oakley acknowledged that she and Brugman were in a “unique and fortunate position,” having started their brand with little to no advertising or marketing budget.
“Most of our early customers came from our followers over at A Bikini A Day and our personal Instagram pages, so obviously social media — particularly Instagram — is a huge focus for us,” Oakley said.
“We see Instagram as a tool to communicate directly with customers and customers-to-be and so we work hard to keep our Instagram both informative and exciting.”
At its simplest, she said, social media is visual. “We’re intentional about the imagery we create and share, making sure it feels on-brand, unique, and showcases different body types and skin tones so everyone feels seen.” On the paid social side, she said they see direct return on advertising spend or around 15x-20x each year. “We credit a lot of this with our imagery and understanding our customers and potential customers. We know who they are and what they want to see.”
Quality products for a targeted market
“With no formal training in fashion design or production, perfecting our design and fit was an initial challenge,” Oakley said, but through trial and error and a “rigorous fit strategy,” they were able to streamline supply and fulfillment channels.
“It sounds simple, but creating quality products that we love and that will help make our customers feel their most confident is at the core of everything we do,” Oakley said, adding that dedication to their product remains the most important part of their business, and that the pair have catered entire collections to followers based on feedback received through social media.
Being in touch with customers has been vital to Monday’s success and growth, Oakley said, giving them a unique perspective on the market as both influencers and entrepreneurs.
Careful team growth
“Devin and I have a very hands-on approach to running and managing our company and like to be involved in every aspect of the business,” Oakley said.
In order to scale up and focus on growth, she said they had to learn to delegate and hire the right people. “We purposely have a small team with each team member being highly involved with and passionate about the brand. Like Devin and myself, we all wear a lot of hats and have a very good understanding of the brands ethics, voice, and goals.”Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why Pikes Peak is the most dangerous racetrack in America