Grad is the Owner and Designer of Beau Swim
Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Samantha Jones set her sights on a career in the fashion industry at a young age. After a representative from FIDM visited her high school’s fashion class, Samantha realized she’d found the perfect college. Shortly after graduation, she moved to Los Angeles to begin making her childhood dreams a reality. After earning an A.A. in Merchandise Product Development, Samantha received a B.S. in Business Management and graduated in 2019. She was hired as a Merchandising Coordinator at a menswear brand, but Samantha was unexpectedly laid off last April due to the Covid pandemic. Rather than look for a new position, she decided it was the perfect time to develop her Los Angeles-based luxury swimwear line, Beau Swim, which officially launched in February of 2021. This July, she’ll be showing her eco-friendly collection at Miami Swim Week. We recently caught up with Samantha to learn more about her path to FIDM, why sustainability matters, and what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.
What was your path to FIDM? When I was younger, my mother would take me to JOANN to pick out fabrics, which I would use to sew dresses and swimsuits. I was about 10 at the time I started sewing and knew then that whatever I would do would be in the fashion industry. My grandmother was a designer, and she was also big into making her own clothing. While in high school, I took the sewing and fashion classes that my school had offered. One day, FIDM came to my school and did a presentation to the fashion class and I was sold. I knew that day that I wanted to go there. FIDM had everything I needed to succeed in the fashion industry and it was in the perfect location: Los Angeles. In January 2016, I flew out to LA and started at FIDM!
How did you select your initial FIDM major? I selected Product Development because I wanted a mix of design, merchandising, and product development. With this major I was able to study the initial design process and everything that goes into creating the product. At my initial interviews with FIDM, I wanted to only do design, but learning more about PD I realized it was the perfect mix of design and development. Through the PD course, I learned many processes that I use everyday in my work life now with my brand.
What were some of the most valuable lessons you learned at FIDM? Textiles, sourcing, business management, and merchandising. This is a hard question because everything I studied in my degree I actually use every day in my business. The Business Management degree especially helped me when it was time to create my business plan. I was able to use papers and assignments from my classes that I had saved to help me in organizing and planning different aspects of the business. The sourcing classes in the Product Development program also helped a ton because I knew where to look, which countries specialize in what, and what to watch out for. I would highly recommend that anyone who wants to eventually start their own clothing line take Merchandise Product Development, as well as obtain the B.S in Business Management. That way you have the knowledge on everything related to the product from start to finish, and to also have education in how to properly run a business.
What led you to found Beau Swim? I founded Beau Swim in April of 2020. I was working for a menswear company when Covid-19 hit in 2020, and in April of last year I was laid off. I decided that I did not want to go back to working for another fashion company, and that I finally wanted to start my own line. I started designing, found a factory, started sourcing, all soon after I decided I was going to start Beau Swim.
To where do you trace your love of swimwear? While studying at FIDM I decided to do all my projects focused on either swimwear or menswear. With this, I ended up learning a ton about swimwear and the swim industry. I always loved the beach and basically live in swimsuits every day. Learning as much as I could about the swim industry while at FIDM was part of my plan, so once I graduated at some point I would be able to start my own swim line. I have always had this vision of what I wanted the Beau Swim aesthetic to be, and I also wanted to use high-quality fabrics. Today, Beau Swim is exactly what I envisioned it to be, and I am continuing to build on this initial vision!
Tell us about the sustainability aspect to your brand: At Beau Swim, for every bikini sold, a portion of the proceeds are donated to the ROLE Foundation, an organization that educates business and people on how to be more sustainable and eco-friendly in the workplace and their everyday lives. They also organize beach cleanups as well. We believe that it is crucial for companies to do their part in helping in whatever way they can. Educating more people on how to shift to more sustainable practices is very important. Another sustainability aspect of Beau Swim is that for some of our swimsuits we use Econyl which is a recycled fabric made from ocean waste/plastic. Our menswear line is completely sustainable — all the styles are made of 100% recycled ocean waste/plastic as well.
What are the best and most challenging aspects of entrepreneurship? The best part is being able to create the company with the vision that you want. I always struggled with this while working with other companies. I had many ideas, but with big companies it is hard to really put your vision through. I love being able to do things in the company the way I want to and making all the decisions. The most challenging aspect is also doing everything yourself at the beginning. I play the role of owner, designer, content creator, sourcer, accountant, and I do all the legal paperwork. You have to be able to wear many hats, and wear them well for the company to succeed.
While starting your own company is incredible, there are tough times, especially in the beginning. We would all love to be a big success on the first day, but that is not reality, and that is something that was difficult at first. But being persistent is key. I started to work on Beau Swim in April 2020, launched the company in February of 2021, and now just a few months later I am very grateful to have been invited to showcase in Miami Swim Week 2021.
Anything else you'd like to share? There are lots of fun surprises that we have coming in the next few months, so subscribe to our mailing list on our website to stay up-to-date on all things Beau Swim!
Learn more about Samantha and Beau Swim online at BeauSwim.com and on Instagram @BeauSwimCo.
Categories: Business Management Merchandise Product Development Alumni