Image courtesy Shannon Follansbee & Gina Nguyen
Interview

Shannon Follansbee & Gina Nguyen

04.16.15

Over dinner at New York City’s Il Cantinori, Shannon Follansbee met Gina Nguyen, and they knew immediately they shared a love for all things beach related. The first of it’s kind, the two women launched Bikini.com – a lifestyle shopping website for the bikini, fitness, and travel enthusiast. Bikini.com is an online boutique, carefully merchandised, and features many emerging swimwear and resortwear designers that are hard to find. Follansbee and Nguyen believe one’s personal style should absolutely extend to swimwear and the site has a focus on fashionable and trendy pieces for the beach globetrotter. Together they created a destination retail platform that transforms the usually not-so-fun swimwear shopping experience. And for that, we’re grateful!

Interview

In your opinion, why does resort and swimwear need its own lifestyle site to shop from?

Resort and swimwear are inherently about lifestyle – not just about the bikini but the context in which it’s worn. We touch upon all of the different factors that go into wearing a swimsuit. We show readers how to shop for their bikini, fitness tips to look and feel good when wearing the bikini, and most importantly where to go. We eat, sleep, and breathe bikini life and so we want to share that passion.

What brought the two of you together?

We met years ago at dinner in NYC at Il Cantinori. We spent the evening sharing our love for travel to exotic beach locales, fashion, and most importantly food! The rest was history.

Whose idea was it to launch a shopping site focused on swimwear?

We both wanted to create a site by women for women.  Swimwear is one of the most personal things you can purchase so we wanted to build a thoughtful site that takes the intimidation out of online shopping. We also want to bring more awareness to artisan designers we meet during our travels, so bikini.com is the perfect place to showcase both editorially and as a marketplace for unique international pieces.  

What was missing from the market that supported this business venture for you?

We noticed that there was no site that touched upon the growing topic of beach lifestyle. Bikini.com is the only destination where you can learn about and experience bikini culture and be able to shop the look. We wanted to create a luxury, beach lifestyle destination that covered all facets of the culture such as style, health and fitness, beauty, love and life, events, and travel. Our shop offers a curated collection of unique and fashionable swimwear and accessories from all over the world.

Was it tough to get brands on board at first?

It was a bit of a challenge at first due to us being the first in the beach lifestyle space to do what we are doing. Fortunately, we met some amazing designers who share our vision and passion to bring awareness to beach culture.  

Why is swimwear shopping so hard for women?

Swimwear shopping can be an intimating experience and finding a bikini isn’t always the easiest of tasks. As women, we know what challenges we all face and took that into consideration during our shop design. We added features like “shop by body type” to help women find bikinis that compliment their body. We want every woman who visits the site to leave feeling beautiful inside and out. 

What is your site doing to make this experience more positive?

Our site takes the guesswork out of bikini shopping. We curate collections based on trends, body type, and even lifestyle events such as music festivals. Editorially, we educate readers on how to feel good and look good when wearing swimwear.  

The site and readership for your blog is growing at an unprecedented rate, are sales growing this quickly as well? What do you attribute this to?

We are very excited about our rapid growth! We love being able to share our passion for the bikini lifestyle and we feel that our readers see and appreciate that. 

What’s the division of labor like between the two of you?

Bikini.com has been a labor of love for us and we work together every step of the way. We are partners with different backgrounds but share the same vision for the site. The synergy has been amazing and it’s a pleasure to work with such a passionate partner.

It’s rare we find fashion insiders based in Las Vegas – are people surprised when they learn this is your base?

People are often surprised but very excited to visit bikini.com HQ. We both moved to Vegas a year ago to build the site and now can’t imagine being anywhere else. Bikini culture here is not seasonal, it is a year round lifestyle. 

It’s probably a great place to view trends and do market research, no?

Las Vegas has been a really great environment for enhancing our brand and gaining insight about our customers. We frequently travel to LA, NYC, Hawaii, Bali, Europe and Miami to stay up to date on the bikini lifestyle. Life is not meant to be lived in one place, or in one bikini. 

1 Comment

  1. MsSvelteNY responded:

    Edit “intimating” (Swimwear shopping can be an intimating experience) to “intimiDating.”

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