Unpredictable fall weather aside, Los Angeles generally enjoys a perennial swimsuit season. And as easy as it is to hole up in our city’s many stylish seaside hangouts and perfect poolside lounges, finding the right swimwear that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin is another story. That’s where Andie, a new LA-made startup that simplifies bathing suit shopping, comes in.
The direct-to-consumer swim brand is produced entirely in a woman-owned factory in Downtown LA. Using Andie’s try-at-home process, shoppers can pick three one-piece silhouettes that’ll be shipped directly to their doorstep. They’ll get a week to try on the styles and each package includes an envelope with pre-paid shipping so the “no” suits can be returned hassle-free. The service costs $10, which is credited back to your order.
Andie currently offers three figure-flattering styles in a variety of hues and in sizes XS to XL — and while each suit starts at $125, the price drops when you buy more ($115 each when you buy two, or $105 each for three). As far as designs, there’s the Catalina with the scoop neck, extra bust support, high-cut hip, and oval cutout at the back. There’s also the Montauk, which features a high boat neckline and low scoop back. And for those seeking classic Baywatch vibes, the Tulum’s scoop neck, extra bust support, high-cut hip, and criss-cross back has you covered. The brand also offers easy-to-wear tees and caps ($25) that are ready to throw into your beach or pool bag.
As if that’s not enough to convince you that Andie’s got your splash-ready back, know that Demi Moore recently signed on as an investor and adviser.
More about the other women behind Andie: The brand was founded by New York-based entrepreneur Melanie Travis (who’s spent time at a slew of tech companies) and her partner in business (and in life!) Leah Schwartz. We sat down with Travis to find out what inspired her to (finally!) simplify swimwear shopping, why it was important to create a completely lady-led brand, how she snagged the backing of Moore, and more. Read on below, then shop Andie online here.
What’s the story behind the brand’s name?
We wanted a name that was one word, because we do one-pieces. We also wanted a name that felt like a friend’s name; a woman who you can trust, and who you can turn to for advice. And, poorly-kept-secret, but Andie is also the name of a miniature dachshund that I love.
What’s your professional background, and how does your experience play a role in your new label?
I’ve always worked in consumer technology companies: I started my career at Foursquare, then worked at Kickstarter, and most recently worked at BarkBox. At each of these companies I’ve been on the brand building side, responsible for building communities and creating magical brand experiences. So I have a pretty finely tuned ear for aspects of the consumer experience that are not being met.
Then I had this experience where I was looking for a one-piece and couldn’t find anything that met my minimalist, chic aesthetic. I talked to a lot of my friends and realized I was hearing the same chorus of voices saying over and over that shopping for swimwear sucks, and that it’s impossible to find a good one-piece. So I started mapping out what a company that solves all of these problems would look like, and that’s how Andie was born. And since we’ve launched I’ve been totally obsessed with building a brand that really resonates with women everywhere.
We’ve done over 27 parties and pop-ups across the country; we developed a really innovative try-before-you-buy e-commerce model, and I have a really robust feedback loop with our customers so that we’re always learning and improving on the product.
Who are your co-founders and how did you meet them/what led you to pursue Andie?
I actually co-founded Andie with my wife Leah. She is the smartest person I know, so I’m incredibly lucky to both be married to her and to be in business with her. She kept her full-time job though: We’ve heard too many horror stories of married couples working full-time together. Leah takes care of the business and finance side of things. In her day job she’s an investment banker, so she brings a really different perspective to this business. She’s always looking at charts and numbers and making sure we have strong unit economics.
I pursued Andie because I’ve always had a really entrepreneurial spirit. Before working in tech, I got my MFA from CalArts in Film Directing. There are a lot of parallels between film directing and starting a company: One of my strongest attributes is visualizing a completed project, mapping out the steps needed to get there, and building a strong team to cross the finish line. Turns out I prefer to apply this skillset to building brands and businesses than to works of art — though sometimes I think when I retire I’ll go back to making movies.
What previous shopping experiences did you have that inspired you to simplify the swimwear search process?
Shopping for swimwear just sucks. In a store, you have to get completely undressed in a tiny dressing room, often under fluorescent lights where you never look as good as you want. I’ve had the curtains fly open on me where inevitably someone else sees me completely naked. It’s just traumatizing. And shopping online isn’t much better — you have to scroll through never-ending grids of swimsuits and you can’t tell how anything fits, and then have to contend with onerous return policies. I knew there had to be a better way, which is why we launched the home try-on experience.
Why was it important to you to produce in a woman-owned factory in LA?
When I was doing research on the swimwear industry, I was shocked to learn that the vast majority of swimwear brands are actually owned by men! (It makes sense why good swimsuits are so hard to find, though). Since we’re a brand that only sells women’s products, I thought we should really be a brand by women — throughout our entire supply chain. So I searched for a woman-owned factory and found the perfect place right in the heart of downtown LA. The workers get sick leave and paid time off, which is incredibly rare in this industry.
How did you connect with Demi Moore and what does she love about the brand?
I was first introduced to Demi Moore years ago when I worked at BarkBox: she is a huge rescue dog person, and I was on a project to help her rescue some pups in New York. When I left BarkBox to start Andie I reached back out because I know she’s supportive of young female entrepreneurs, and of course because she’s a fashion icon. So she’s really been involved since the earliest days of Andie, and has been a big champion and supporter. In early 2017 she wanted to step up her involvement in Andie and became an investor and advisor to the brand.
In her words: “I was drawn to Andie’s approach, which puts women at the forefront. Shopping for a swimsuit can be stressful and time-consuming for so many women, but Andie’s at-home try-on makes finding the perfect swimsuit an incredibly simple, easy and comfortable experience.”
Do you think you’ll expand to producing bikini separates and other swim products and if so, when?
What’s most important to us is making swimwear shopping a joy for women everywhere. If that means adding bikinis to our collection, we’ll do that. We run a constant feedback loop with our customers so we know what they love and don’t love: What they’re looking for and can’t find. As we listen, we’re constantly developing new ideas.
As for when: We’re a small and nimble team. I think of us like a SWAT team, of remarkably smart women. So if we decide to add bikini separates or other swim products, we’ll move fast to get it done.
Where are a few of your favorite beaches / places to swim around the world?
My all-time favorite beach is very un-sexy and in fact it’s usually raining there, but I love it. It’s a beach in Carnac, in northwestern France. It’s on the rugged and rainy coast of Brittany, but I grew up going to the beach there and honestly nothing gives me more joy.
Of course I love Malibu, and Miami, and the beaches of southern Italy too. There’s nothing quite like digging your toes in the sand and diving into the ocean.