It’s Christmas Day, 2010. Emily Doig is lying on a beach in Vietnam, cursing the ill-fitting swimsuit she had bought especially for her well-deserved holiday.
Cue business idea.
“I’d bought the swimsuit from a major retailer here in Australia, and I just thought to myself, ‘this is expensive, and ineffective, and there’s got to be a better way’. So I just started right then and there on the beach working out the finer details of how I could start my own business, my own label, based on creating garments which are comfortable, fit properly, and are affordable,” Doig says.
And so, Bombshell Bay, a swimwear line for the ‘everywoman’, was born.
“It was really about needing to fill the gap for the often forgotten 25-45 year old market. What I’d learned is that brands and businesses like to appeal to the sexier audiences of the really young ones, or the high-fashion audience, and it can be considered ‘Mumsy’ I guess, appealing to that slightly older bracket,” Doig says.
“People’s bodies change, and you look different to what you did when you were younger, so it’s not the ‘sexy’ market to be in. So I decided that needed to change, and we could reclaim that, and make it sexy again. And make it desirable to have a brand in that space.”
Having spent a year living in Cambodia, Doig also wanted to create a label with an ethical production process. All of the swimwear is manufactured in carefully selected factories, and a portion of the products are also produced in Cambodia. “We use a Fair Trade factory in Cambodia which specifically hires women with HIVAids – they manufacture some of the swimwear, not all of it – they don’t have the capacity to do our whole range, but selected pieces from our range are made in that workshop in Phnom Penh,” Doig says.
Before Bombshell Bay, Doig had already cut her entrepreneurial teeth on one successful online business, Tipsy Toes – a website selling fold-up ballet flats. “Tipsy Toes just came out of the need to wear something comfortable after a night out dancing – so for me it was really just spontaneous and an opportunity to dip my toes into the world of owning my own business, and it gave me an opportunity to learn the ropes really, and to start Bombshell Bay,” Doig says.
Looking back on founding that first business, Doig adds that experience has proven to be extremely valuable.
With a career background in online marketing and product development, and an academic background in visual arts, Doig is certainly a new-gen entrepreneur who can adapt her skillset. She chooses to limit the retailers she stocks to, preferring to grow the Bombshell Bay online store, and target niche markets, such as stocking in high-end resorts.
The path from that seed idea to becoming a fully-fledged business certainly didn’t happen overnight, and Doig laughs there’s a lot of behind the scenes work which has been unappealing and frankly, unglamorous.
Doig says that while founding her label has meant many personal sacrifices, the use of technology allows for growth opportunities simply not possible all that long ago. “The great thing about online is that I’m selling to people all around the world. So I don’t have to have a store on a high street that I sit in for 8 hours a day, hoping a customer will come in. I can sell to people in Scandinavia and North America, and Russia and the Middle East – while I’m asleep.”
“We can’t rely on department stores to sell our products anymore, because we know that’s ineffective. You have to innovate, otherwise you’re going to be swallowed up, and we’re seeing that every week in fashion. Brands are disappearing, and it’s because they didn’t innovate,” Doig says.
So what’s next for this entrepreneur? Bombshell Bay has just launched its Summer 13/14 line, and looking at plans to expand into North America. Doig says that she hopes to leverage the fact that Australian products are highly regarded overseas, and known for their quality.
As most entrepreneurs know, there’s no such thing as an overnight success – but Doig says despite the hard work, it can be very rewarding.