Southern Swim

Southern Swim is an online retailer of designer swimwear curated specifically for the Southern Lifestyle.

Growing up in the South we have many fond memories and experiences of being at the lake, floating the rivers and hanging out by the pool. Yet, stores in the South seemed to focus marketing efforts on beaches and surfboards. We felt there was a huge opportunity to refine those marketing efforts and build a brand that represented who we were.

We started a little over 7 months ago working on the brand and the story we wanted to tell. We felt if we could tap into this culture and represent it then memories and stories people had would come to life and be cherished. Social media was huge for us from the start as it was our testing bed that validated our ideas and gave people a platform to tell their stories. We seemed to have connected immediately and grew our followers to over 30,000 on Facebook and 5,000 on Instagram.

We launched our ecommerce store on Shopify December 2013 and have had great success since, even considering it's the off-season and one of the coldest winters in the US. But, we felt like our efforts of building a brand first was what connected with people the most and our passion shined through.

The culture of Southern Swim is in the name. SOUTHERN. We are a brand that celebrates a Southern Lifestyle. We live and breathe it everyday. We are hard workers with deep roots. When people all across the world want to know what is going on in the South they turn to us. We are family, we are loyal, we are supportive, we are trendsetters and we are fun.

Simple. Honest. Friendly. Accessible.

Southern Swim is classy with a little bit of grit. We are young and free. We celebrate a lifestyle that has been celebrated for generations. We are honest and trustworthy. We are your friends. We want to be the brand you can’t help but like, the brand you want to share, the brand that everyone knows who they are, the brand that is the first on the invite list to your lake party.

What are the key factors that have helped your store be successful?

Build the brand first. If you focus on building a brand you'll develop your story and understand what your brand means to people. We used Instagram early on to test certain look and feels for our brand and get market validation. We saw most swimwear companies were over sexy in their marketing efforts and we wanted to keep the conservative South in our decision making process. A little bit of class goes a long way.

We're a startup, self-funded, so we had no money for marketing and or ad buys. Instead we focused our efforts on social media such as Instagram and Pinterest, customer service, community involvement such as local fashion shows and co-partnerships. Connecting with our customers and hearing their stories about experiences around the water helps us create new content. We recently rolled out a blog on Southern Lifestyle and we're looking to share people's stories and experiences.

Southern Swim is headquartered in Fayetteville, AR in the heart of the Ozark Mountain Range. The Ozarks are home to some of the states most beautiful scenery. Surrounded by many lakes, rivers and streams, The Ozarks provide us an endless amount of opportunity to enjoy the water and everything the South has to offer.

What are your top recommendations for new store owners?

Build a brand your passionate about. Telling that story will help you go a lot further than just selling a product.

Keep costs and features down until you've validated your idea and found a hole in your market. We chose Shopify because it leveled the playing field for us with our bigger competitors. We're able to offer the same great features and services without the need to hire a bunch of developers early on. Shopify allows us to keep a pulse on our business at all times and getting the sales notifications on my phone everyday are just awesome.

We've been fortunate to validate our ideas the last 3 months and now we're gearing up for the swimwear season and will be looking to ramp up our marketing efforts through stories, lookbooks, video lookbooks, email marketing and more social media strategies.

Any Closing Remarks?

Find what you love and let it kill you. We had no idea what we were getting into when we first started. Building a brand and launching a store is easy; it's what you do with it afterwards that's hard. We knew acquiring customers was going to be a challenge but our efforts in building our brand and marketing has helped lower that cost and allowed us to accelerate our business faster than we thought.

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