Aussies solve ‘gross’ bikini problem
Just about every Aussie knows the unique torture of sitting in soggy, uncomfortable swimmers after taking a dip.
But a new brand claims to have all but solved that problem - and has made $1 million in just 12 months in the process.
Sydney women Kay Howitt and Lynne Tramonte have been friends for decades, and after working in the swimwear industry for most of their careers, they decided to launch their own label around a year ago.
Their boutique swim and resort brand Monte & Lou has already raked in close to $1 million in sales - but the company has also recently signed a lucrative deal with leading Australian department store David Jones.
Monte & Lou will launch its range, including an exclusive print, in 15 David Jones stores across the country from July 31.
The new partnership will also double Monte & Lou's turnover for the three key months of August, September and October alone to nearly $600,000.
The co-founders said the deal would lead to a "direct increase on sales volume as well as dollar value" and also boost the brand's exposure in Australia.
They said the reasons behind Monte & Lou's dramatic and rapid growth included their experience in the industry, the quality of the garments - and their exclusive "quick dry technology" that eliminates the "gross feeling" of sitting in wet swimmers.
"Our luxurious exclusive printed and plain fabrics are lightweight and engineered to provide a garment that not only feels beautiful against your skin but is also quick to dry which means no more sitting in a soggy swimsuit," co-founder and creative director Kay Howitt said.
"All our garments are fully lined in our exclusive smooth-to-touch nylon elastane which sculpts the body and feels like silk."
Ms Howitt said the pair had worked together on some of the country's biggest swimwear brands - including Seafolly and Megan Gale's Isola - for decades before going it alone.
The women have such extensive experience several Australian retailers specifically asked Ms Howitt to start her own label, which is how the idea was hatched.
"Kay and I have a friendship that has spanned 35 years - we've worked and collaborated together, particularly in the swimwear industry, for that many years," Ms Tramonte told news.com.au.
"We have this passion for swimwear, and we've known each other as friends and colleagues for so long that it seemed natural (to start a business).
"Retailers we worked with were asking Kay to come up with her own brand, so it really started from there and from us being friends and having the skills to be able to do it. We had so much experience we were able to hit the ground running."
Ms Howitt, a breast cancer survivor, said her experience had given her a valuable insight into how to create garments that made Aussie women feel good about themselves.
"I'm a breast cancer survivor, so I understand it can be quite difficult selecting swimwear and finding something you feel good in because there are a lot of changes going on," she said.
"Having that first-hand experience to those types of challenges helped me in my design. I completely understand that if you select something that's the right style and that suits you, it really lifts your self-confidence and helps you get back to enjoying your life."
Ms Tramonte said the pair always hoped to have their line stocked in David Jones stores, and the deal was a "game changer".
"David Jones was part of our strategy, and we hoped to be there one day, but we didn't realise how quickly it would happen," she said.
"It is an iconic Australian department store, so there's no higher achievement for us - it's very, very exciting."
The pair said they aimed to double their business over the next two years and secure deals with international distributors.
"We want to take the Aussie holiday lifestyle to the world," Ms Howitt said.