Then and Now: From Kitchen Table to Corner Office
We didn’t go to school to become entrepreneurs, and we most definitely never had any formal training in swimsuit design. And yet, we created and grew a successful swimwear brand from the ground up.
We’re Wowease founders Jill Slater and Alexis Castellano, and our story is proof that determined women can do anything they set their minds to. In our new series, ‘Basement to Brand,’ we’re sharing more about our story as two moms who made the leap into entrepreneurship and how far our journey has taken us.
Where It All Began
You always hear that cliche about how the greatest businesses start as an idea scribbled onto the back of a napkin. Well, our idea didn’t start on a napkin, but it was pretty darn close.
These are some of our earliest sketches, which aimed to capture our idea for a sanity-saving swimsuit that fastened at the bottom to make bathroom breaks easier for busy parents.
Alexis went to school for journalism while Jill has her master’s in nursing, so we were well outside of our wheelhouses with this idea. But that’s the thing about great ideas--they don’t discriminate based on your degree or your background. We knew we were onto something, so we decided to take the concept and run with it.
From Idea To Prototype
Alexis’ mom, Diane Novick-Dunn, is a retired fashion designer who studied at FIT. She has a lengthy resume of work designing sleepwear and lingerie and she was instrumental in helping us bring our idea to life.
That’s another thing about great ideas--while you’ll always be the biggest champion for your own business, sometimes you have to enlist outside help from people who know what they’re doing if you want to give your idea the best chance of succeeding.
Diane showed us how to turn our sketches into patterns, then turn those patterns into prototypes. Here’s one of our first prototypes in the making.
One upside to having kids? We had built-in guinea pigs who were eager to test our early samples.
We had the kids play in the pool, jump in and out and even go down a waterslide wearing the suits to make sure the fastening mechanism was solid.
Once we felt confident that we had a solid prototype, it was time to get our idea ready for mass production.
In our next installment of Basement to Brand, we’ll show you how we went from making one suit at a time and hand-packing every order to our current operation that allows us to fulfil and ship thousands of orders with ease.
Thanks for reading!