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Daily Inspiration: Meet Abea Evans

Today we’d like to introduce you to Abea Evans.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I made my first swimsuit in 2007 in college in the studio. I honestly taught myself, it was wrong but a great start lol. The fashion program at my first college was more focused on the business aspect of the business but we did learn the basics of fashion design. I was also in the lab after class teaching myself how to make my designs, with the assistance of my professors when they were available to help. I enter my first design in a school design competition that year. I got third place on the first swimsuit I even made. I was extremely happy about that and received a lot of great feedback from the audience and classmates. From there, I was known as the swimsuit girl. I turned it into a little side hustle while finishing up school. Fast forward a few years, I enter grad school to learn more of the technical process to designing garments. While in grad school, while I learned the correct way to construct a swimsuit lol, I also learned and fell in LOVE with print design. With my last year approaching, Combining my love of designing prints and swimwear, I designed a resort collection for my college final project fashion show, won Most Sale-able graduate collection. Aleena Swim was officially born in June 2014. I started out doing a lot of custom work, focusing on swimsuits that help support and cover women that are busty. I participated a few fashion shows but in the past few years, I stopped taking custom orders and focused on building my brand.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The road has been extremely hard. There has been many breakdowns and small anxiety attacks. Designing your own collection, as well as prints, is not only time-consuming but extremely expensive. When I graduated college, I made it a point to get a design job in corporate fashion so I can learn the design process. This included working with factories, buyers, and just running a fashion company using the correct terminology. I have been lucky to get hired as a designer at major companies, Jessica Simpson Brand, Macys, and Jones New York. I learned the good and the bad, as well as practices and procedures I will incorporate, or not, within my business.

There has been times when I have been scammed off by fashion show producers and overcharged stores when attempting to buy fabrics and trims, even when working with factories. Unfortunately, a lot of self-taught designers go into the industry green and they do get taken advantage of from factories. Because I worked in the industry, I know when the factory or a vendor gives me wrong information and I no longer get taken advantage of. They do not get my business.  Luckily, I know how to correctly source fabric, construct samples, and the printing fabric process so I can not only save on cost, I can get exactly what I am looking for. I also have great relationships with former coworkers, so if and when I have questions about a category I didn’t work in, they are more than willing to help and answer questions. A major challenge I personally had to get over was asking for help. I have a bad habit of “I can do it myself because I know how I want it done”. That is extremely stressful and I was putting a lot of unnecessary stress on myself. Once I got over the “let me do it” phase and started to trust others with my vision, not only did my workload lighten, I was able to sleep thought-out the night, most nights.

My main struggle right now is marketing, brand awareness and getting my brand in the eyes of potential customers. I have an amazing product and my Summer 2023 collections is the best I’ve designed so far. Right now, I’m trying to find the most cost-effective way the market my brand.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Aleena Swim was born out of the need to provide resort apparel that celebrates all curves while providing an edgy flare. Fiercely feminine with Caribbean charm, the collection is creatively crafted using luxe fabrics and exclusively designed prints. Vibrant colors and sexy silhouettes every design accentuates the positives. Based in Los Angeles, CA, Aleena swim is committed to celebrating those confident, beautiful, and radiant women globally.

Something that I am most proud of with Aleena Swim is that not only do I design my own prints, but the feedback I receive from customers and potential customers about including all sizes and body types. I was getting documents and photos printed and sales rep thanked me for including different body types. A random stranger telling me that made me know that I am going in the right direction and to keep on pushing.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
I always thought that I was fearful when it comes to taking risks but a few good friends of mine had to remind me that I take risks all the time. From moving to states and cities where I know no one to even starting my own brand and expanding it in a pandemic. One of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken was quitting my job (with a good amount of money saved of course) and moving to California with no job lined up. Luckily I had one friend here who let me live with her until I found a job, only took me two weeks and find a place to live. There is so much opportunity here, you just have to go out and work for it.

The second biggest risk was paying an amount of money I was not necessarily comfortable with to participate in a Trade Show that was exclusively for swim brands. I was extremely nervous to pay that amount of money but I know that in order to get my brand in front of buyers of MAJOR retail stores, trade shows are the way to do it. I can say that I did have a major retailer look and love my brand so that made the experience worth it. I also was able to connect with other brands and companies with is always a plus.

One of my favorite quotes “Life is all about taking risks. If you never take a risk, you will never achieve your dreams.” I am a big dreamer. The dreams that have come true for me are because I was and still willing to take risks. I also am a true believer of, If it doesn’t happen, it’s not meant to be and something bigger and better will come along.

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Image Credits
Majority of photos taken by Jessica Moon, @jessicamoon.photography on IG

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