There’s lots going on here at Strange! Despite all the craziness of 2020, we have had some AMAZING growth, leading up to new opportunities and changes that I’d been excited to pursue but the stars just hadn’t aligned. But now, the timing feels right and I couldn’t wait to share with you Strangers what the future is looking like over here. But first, a little back story!
For those of you who may not know, or perhaps are new (welcome!), Strange Bikinis started with handmade, custom swimsuits in 2012. Over the past eight years, that’s been the foundation for the entire business. Even as I’ve continued to grow and expand, custom suits have been a core product that I have always included. However, with every Stranger that walked through my door to purchase a suit, over time I’ve come to realize creating customs is not a sustainable business model for my continued growth. As much as I’ve loved creating original designs for every occasion (bachelorette parties, honeymoon’s, birthday’s, mommy and me sets etc.), sewing is a slow, slow process that takes a crazy amount of concentration for just one bikini. With the expansion and growth Strange has seen, even in the past year alone, it’s time that I just don’t have anymore…which honestly, is FANTASTIC! This transition, though kind of bittersweet, is such a great sign and testament to where we are now and where we are going.
Learning the ins and outs of production and making quality swimwear for my customers has become my main focus. Honestly, the first step in this new direction was the move to working with our factory in San Francisco in 2016. That was such a HUGE risk at the time. It was the first time I had really handed off my designs to anyone else to create and assemble. That was terrifying. Would the style end up exactly as I planned? Would their techniques match mine? Would quality be diminished if I wasn’t personally overseeing every piece created? So many what-ifs. But I knew it was a move I had to make. Me trying to continue to create every single piece in my shop just wasn’t cutting it anymore. So, cue the move to our factory in 2016, a risk that absolutely paid off! Transitioning to having our SF factory handle mainstream collection production and me make the occasional custom suit has been really beneficial for our growth. As I mentioned, learning the ins and outs of production so I can make quality pieces has become my prime focus so handing off a bulk of my sewing was a huge help. With the continued growth of Strange, this operational practice was really working for a while…and then I received the news from my head seamstress in San Francisco (for those of you who don’t know or missed this update, you can read the whole story HERE). When I received that news, I realized how important it was for me to really start embracing this new direction and start looking to modify my business platform, particularly custom suits. Truthfully, I thought I would always be able to make handmade one-offs, but the fact is I am spread too thin and so many different aspects of the business need my attention that there just isn’t enough of me to go around anymore. Being a small business, it is so important for me to focus on growth and better operational practices.
Which brings me to the exciting new opportunities and what the future of Strange is looking like! All of this growth has been rad and I can’t thank you Strangers enough for your continued support and loyalty to the brand! Because of this support, I am now able to really start focusing on providing more overall. I really want to continue to have more collections (more exciting news to come), more designs and multiple releases like I did this year, something I couldn’t manage before when I’ve had to sew. We were able to open the Santa Cruz shop, something else I could never have pursued given the time and management it takes for me to operate one shop, let alone two. This added time to pursue better business practices has also given me the opportunity to research and begin working with multiple suppliers, supporting my desire to provide more designs and collections moving forward! All of this positive growth has opened the door for new expansions and opportunities that I simply haven’t had the time or capacity for in the past.
We’ve also been incorporating a lot more charitable events and community outreach within the past couple years. I love being able to host events like The Big Dip and plogging or have even have the ability to participate in other local events that fit our vision like The Big Clean. Each of these events vary in size and involvement but they definitely take a great deal to coordinate, put on and participate with. Holding or collaborating in events and gatherings like these where we can give back to our community or donate to a wonderful cause is something I’m truly passionate about and want to continue doing. There’s just so many creative avenues and ideas I want to pursue or continue to pursue that require more time from me, time I wouldn’t have if not for this exciting, new direction.
Beyond my role here at Strange Bikinis, new priorities in my personal life have also strongly influenced this change in direction. Obviously you all know I have Calvin at home now and spending time with him, watching him learn and grow, is something I could never give up. He has become such a prime focus and I need my business to continue to allow me to have that quality time with him. I’m also taking more time for myself and having (can you believe it?) ME time, something I’ve always kind of struggled with given my work ethic and being an entrepreneur. Learning to allow myself that time and care has been a process but now that I have embraced it, it is not something I am willing to give up. Now more than ever, my family, my son and time for myself have truly become such an added joy in my life and being able to take this new direction with my business is going to allow me to really thrive in both aspects.
So thank you all, again, for your undying support to me and to this brand. I couldn’t be more stoked for the future and where Strange is headed. I couldn’t have done it without you!
Be rad, stay strange and as always, live strangerously! - Ali