Hello to the community that has been nothing but amazing to me over the last several years! It’s always so great when I see who reads my blog posts or email blasts, thank you in advance for sticking with me.
I have so much to go over and I’m just going to start by saying that 2020 is my freaking year! I have butterflies when I think about all the cool shit I’m doing with Strange Bikinis, as a business owner, activist, boss and community organizer. Seriously, so many rad things on the horizon. Between you and me though, I low-key freak out on the daily about everything going on at Strange but have learned to ride that entrepreneurial tidal wave of fear because everything works out in the end.
We are going into our fourth year of small-batch production and just like every year, we have had some serious setbacks along the way. So you already know we make our suits in San Francisco, but did you know our fabrics are milled in Brazil? After being manufactured in Brazil the fabric goes to Oakland for cutting and some of it goes to Los Angeles for trims (You know… all the freaking straps. So. Many. Straps. Sidenote: in the industry, these straps are called “spaghetti”). Then the spaghetti then gets shipped to San Francisco along with the cut fabric where the bikinis are constructed. OK, that sounds simple enough, but it requires a lot of logistic planning and this year IT WAS A DISASTER. We had our yields wrong, there was a miscommunication on all ends, and the fabric was delayed so we have spent loads of time and money on courier services to and from Northern Cal and Southern Cal. Why am I telling you this? Because I like to educate my customers on just how much goes into being a small fashion label.
It was a goal of mine this year to get production done early because it’s so freaking stressful and I try to keep it cool and not freak out. December 31st, the head seamstress in San Francisco called me to let me know she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and she needed me to come immediately to talk about the production, and going forward keeping me as a client. This was tragic news for her and selfishly I was like “Oh shit does that mean I need to source a new factory what about my current order? Will they finish it?” I Panicked!
I drove straight to SF New Years Day and was anxious about what would happen to her and the production for 2020. However, as I said before, I tried not to jump to any conclusions and tried to think positively about what our options were. Speaking to my seamstresses in person is always way better. If you know me then you know I am a people person and I’m able to get a better read on people. I’m happy to report that driving there to talk was a great choice because they are able to keep us on as a client going forward even though “I’m sooo annoying” (her words, not mine!).
Such a freaking relief. Sourcing an American factory is hard. HARD. If you ever wonder why some products cost so much, just reverse engineer the company and if it’s made in the USA, it's because they are paying for everything that comes with working in the US. I used to compare my brand and prices to those major players in my field- Acacia, Miko, Tori Praver, Beach Bunny and L-Space- and I used to think they over-charge for their products, especially because they are made overseas. I thought they were just raking it in $$$. However, as I grow, I hope that what I'm experiencing is what they did as well. I hope they pay their contractors well, I hope that they have integrity in their quality and pay to ensure that, I hope that they care about the planet and are willing to make changes. I hope that these are the reasons for their products being much more expensive than Strange Bikinis.
Ok, sorry for such a long saga about the mishaps and panics of the new release, now let's talk about the fact that we are doing Biodegradable fabric. I don’t know if you feel it, but there is a major shift in the fashion industry and I'm pumped to be leading the swimwear industry with this new textile! If you’re really interested in this fabric I will elaborate more on this soon.
2020 has 2 colors that are biodegradable. I wanted to do the entire range, but that would have driven up my prices drastically and I really have to make sure it’s a smart investment that you, my customer, cares about. So I’m hoping that this year will be a huge sustainable shift for my company and we can keep on the up and up each year.
Do you know how hard it was to not share the 2020 “Off the Grid” photos? Lora Wagener is a photo wizard and she delivered on these shots. Holy smokes! Remember earlier how I said it was a goal of mine to be early on this collection, well same goes with this shoot. We shot in September 2019. It’s normally nice weather and I wanted to capitalize on that so it looks like Summer. But, NO. We got hit with the craziest rain and snowstorm the day before and of the shoot. But you know what? Each and every person showed up for me and it’s so awesome to have a crew like that. It was absolutely freezing, but could you tell? I just want to formally thank everyone for their efforts in this shoot.
Now that you are probably drooling over these photos and amped up for our collection release I’m going to leave you with a few announcements assuming you’re a true fan or else you wouldn’t still be here ;)
We have a major surprise in store for you. Mid-February we will drop hints leading up to the big reveal. #I’mnotgoodatkeepingsecrets
Also, The Big Dip is coming up. We are raising money for Walker Basin Conservancy and would like to find more donors! We are basically filling the tote bags with flyers or coupons to any company that wants to donate. This is $100 or $50 depending on what you put in the bags. 200 people are expected at this year's Dip… So please let us know if you can sponsor or know someone who could. But more than that, just be there yourself!
Our Reno flagship store will open its doors March 13th. We are anticipating a lot of online orders for the online release so we will need time to ship and organize. Don’t panic if you don’t want to pay for shipping, we will have a pickup option.
BUT Please do not wait to order if you know what you want. We might sell out!!! Especially size small.. Consider ordering online instead of waiting for the shop.
We will be Plogging again. If you don’t know what that is… get the fuck out, (jk jk!). It’s fun y'all, we job and pick up trash. Save the date- Saturday, February 22nd.
That’s it, everyone. Thanks for keeping up with the Kardashians and me. You make me feel like a million bucks.
Ali Conway @Bikinislanger