Bodds Swimwear: Start-Up Success & Overcoming Challenges

Claire Scipio launched her teen swimwear brand, Bodds Swimwear, at the start of 2017 with the support of the Breakthrough programme and her Unlocking Potential Business Development Manager, Lucy Cox. Here she talks about the ups and downs of running your own business.

Bodds Swimwear - Start-Up Success & Overcoming Challenges

Bodds Swimwear was born from a shopping trip looking for bikinis with her 14-year-old daughter where she left frustrated at the lack of choice – they either seemed to be push up padded bikinis, childish styles or frumpy sportswear. Claire went home that night and began sketching swimwear which fits the teen gap in the market between children’s and adult swimwear.
Claire came along to the two-day start-up Breakthrough workshop, funded by the European Development Regional Fund and delivered by Oxford Innovation and Unlocking Potential.

“When I walked into that room, I tiptoed in and I tried to hide behind people. I knew my idea was strong but I had no self-belief as this was so far out of my comfort zone. With a lot of poking, prodding and prompting from my Business Development Manager, I began to feel that I could do this and I could handle anything that was thrown at me.

After the first breakthrough boot-camp, I set my level of success as a sale to a non-family member or friend. I achieved that the day my stock arrived on the doorstep. A follower from when I first stuck my head above the parapet emailed me following a Facebook post and paid for a set of Bodds swimmers that day!”

Launching a clothing brand has not been without its challenges. Claire has experienced stock delays which were beyond her control meaning that Bodds Swimwear would not be available during the peak summer months. She also learned a hard lesson that factories often push back delivery dates for start-ups and smaller orders.

“I had to gather all my prospective customers together and build sustainable relationships with them with an open and honest conversation.  I really had to work on my mental resilience; I had geared everything towards making significant sales over the course of the summer.”

Now we’re in the winter months, Claire is focussing her attention on planning and preparation for 2018 – private investors are coming on board, she’s planning on working with schools, a new website is being developed, films have been made for the Bodds social channels & website and Claire is following up on PR opportunities in Australia to hit their summer months.

“Bodds Swimwear has always been about standing up and saying the sexualisation of children’s bodies needs to stop; the knock-on effect of this has been monumental and we are developing a programme within schools to build self-esteem, confidence and body image in pre-teens and teens.”

The Breakthrough Programme has put Claire in touch with key mentors, Lucy Cox from Unlocking Potential and Lynda Clarke from Oxford Innovation to help guide her through her start-up journey.

“This Autumn was mentally and emotionally challenging and I was unsure I could cope with the continual stress levels. My mentors, Lucy and Lynda – I describe them as my rocks, they could see I was under strain without me having to ask for help. Separately they gave me a hug, asked what I needed and did everything in their power to assist me. I think mostly I just needed a hug! ”

For more information on the Breakthrough Programme call Jen Ayres on 0845 600 3660.

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