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Meet Bobbi Verdugo of HICA Swimwear in Torrance/DTLA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bobbi Verdugo.

Bobbi, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
How I got started is quite simple. I wanted to wear a certain type of bikini cut that cost less than what was being offered in the stores, so a few years ago I started making and wearing my own one-off creations.

The response was well received. Some girls would be really stoked about my bikini designs and would ask if I could make them one. My decision to get into the swimwear business just kind of went from there.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t think it is ever a smooth road for anyone, especially when you’re first starting out. No one is immune to encountering struggle or failure in any kind of business no matter what type of business it is and for how long you’ve been in it. It’s just simply the nature of it all.

Personally, my biggest struggle may be the time and energy factor. I hold a full-time job during the day and have been taking classes in the evening, so it has often become difficult to fervently dedicate myself to all areas. A lot of people decide to stop running their businesses and fold for the lack thereof so that’s why I do identify it as a struggle not to take so lightly.

However, for the most part my struggle is my own mental roadblock and really a BS excuse. It’s essentially up to me or for anyone else who may feel the same to remove that block and push forward. People have multiple jobs, they may have to look after their families, struggle with other hardships, etc., but they still choose to make things happen. You can make your business last and be successful as long as you want to it to be and in any case, struggle and failure should be sought out, because that’s where all the lessons are learned. You can see difficulty in opportunity and opportunity in difficulty. Ultimately it’s all really a choice and I choose to do it the hard way so I can be the best I can be.

Please tell us about HICA Swimwear.
I make Hawaiian style bikinis made in California. Most of our styles are made reversible with a unique print and solid.

Some may ask, what is a “Hawaiian style” bikini?” Well, after spending quite some time in Hawaii, I realized I always loved how confident local girls are with wearing skimpier cut bikinis but who are also doing active water sports. It’s inspiring and rare to see that in a lot of places in the world. It has left such a strong impression on me that I really wanted to build that into the fabric of the brand: sexy, sporty, healthy and confident.

Although the swimwear may be inspired by a Hawaiian local girl, HICA is a story about women from around the world and about women empowerment. Every new style is themed around a different place in the world. Two seasons ago we did a “French Polynesian” collection and we shot on location and met two of the most amazing local girls, Alaïa, who is big on traditional Tahitian dance and Kanel who is now a mother and runs her own Tahitian pearl company. Both of them modeled the pieces. This past collection, we were in Fiji and met another amazing young woman, Shrea, who currently holds the title of Miss Teen Fiji. All of our models are local to the area and are about body empowerment, I really try to steer away from convention and archetypes, furthermore, I also try to keep the collabs with artisans as local as possible. I’ve made so many friends and memories around the world through HICA and I am really grateful for that. All the collections are not only designed by me, but the photography is also done by me with the help of my boyfriend.

Lastly, HICA is proudly manufactured in California. It is an expensive place for sure to manufacture and in some ways doesn’t make sense from a financial perspective for a brand just starting out, but I work with two amazing women: Margaret who is my pattern maker and Vilma who runs our manufacturing. Sometimes Margaret will take Vilma’s children out to the zoo or other special outing so they aren’t cooped up in their workshop while she is producing and I just love that. We are women helping other women and women empowering other women. It’s a wonderful thing that I am very proud of. So when you look at the big picture we’re not just making bikinis, HICA is an extension of our individuality and a reflection of people helping out other people.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
This is a cute and random question, but I would have to say, probably riding bikes with other kids around the neighborhood until the street lights came on. Me and a childhood friend were also obsessed with mermaids, so we would pretend we were mermaids in the pool or use pillowcases as our mermaid fins. While my brother and I would also get into things and create obstacle courses in our house to pretend we were part of American Gladiator. Yeah, we got creative with it, also making a mess and most likely driving our parents nuts, haha.


  • Separates: $35-$75
  • One-Pieces: $80-$160
  • Sets: $100-$150

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