On the up · 18 July 2018

“Girls in fashion aren’t naïve”, argue best friends behind ethical bikini brand

Daniela Trece and Aline Lima

After moving to London nine years ago, these Brazilian best friends created a biodegradable bikini brand, Sixty Ninety, which could connect them with their home country.

Starting out as an activewear brand in 2015, they only began their bikini line as an experiment. After their swimwear sold well, the co-founders decided to focus solely on bikinis made out of sustainable lycra.

Aline Lima and Daniela Trece originally worked on Sixty Ninety part-time but now focus on this full-time with the help of another friend, Vanusa Fonesca, who joined their team last year.

After enviously scrolling through their Instagram, Business Advice caught up with Lima for the fifth part of our Women in Micro Business series to find out why they decided to switch concepts and about the discrimination they’ve faced in the industry.

How did it all start?

SixtyNinety was founded by Daniela Trece and myself in 2015. We both moved to London over nine years ago, but we still kept a passion for Brazil. Our hearts were always divided. We always wanted to create something which would connect us there. We started the company as an activewear only brand.

The swimwear was introduced a year later, as an “experiment”. It was a success. Which made easy for us to decide to focus on swimwear only. We both LOVE bikinis. Keeping swimwear only also allowed us to go eco-friendly. Going sustainable was a natural path. 

I did my degree in business and was working as a model. Daniela graduated in journalism and was working for a kickboxing company called Glory. We started SixtyNinety as a side project, working only part-time on it. Until it grew enough to need our full attention. Vanusa Fonseca, one of our closest friend came on board in 2017. And now SixtyNinety is a team with three Brazilian friends. With one in common passion: BIKINIS. 

What challenges can women expect to face in business?

On top of all usual challenges a business face on daily basis, in our experience, women have to work harder to prove their business views. Especially in our area, there is a pre-convinced notion that ‘girls-in-fashion’ are naïve when it comes to making a business profitable. 

Do you think there are enough women running their own businesses?

Definitely no, according to the UN’s The World’s Women 2015 report, only 50% of females are in the global workforce. However, women in general work 18 hours a day between paid and domestic work. This data goes to show women still have a very small space in the entrepreneurial world. 

What do you think are the advantages of having more women in business?

If women are half of the global consumer force, businesses founded by women will, more likely, cater better for this part of the population. Diversity in the economy is always important, it is the key for new ideas and new business models. 

Have you ever had any discriminative experiences because of being female?

When raising money for SixtyNinety we were faced with few experiences that we would not have to deal with if we’re young male entrepreneurs asking for investment.

More than discrimination, we experienced harassment. Sadly, this is a situation frequently experienced by women in the workplace. 

How do you handle knockbacks?

It helps to have a partner that has the same goals and vision for the business. We try to push each other up and keep going. It is part of having a business – drawbacks will happen even to the most successful enterprises.   

What advice do you have for other women wanting to start their own business?

Talk to other women in business. Luckily, there are a lot of successful female entrepreneurs that would be happy to share some knowledge. It a strong community and you can easily find groups online and on social media. 

What can the business community do to help more women entrepreneurs?

Investment. It is only when money and time are invested that businesses can flourish. Finding investment for an idea or business is still one of the hardest things for women. 

How do you hope your business to develop in the future?

We expect and are working towards a good launch in the USA market. Growing our online presence and direct sale strategy is also our focus now. 

Who are your business heroes?

Carmen Busquets, Donatella Versace and Diane Von Furstenberg.

What are you reading at the moment?

I know why caged bird sings by Maya Angelou.

Which one song is always on your playlist?

Janis Joplin – A Piece of my Heart.

Where was your last holiday?

Maldives.

When are you the most happiest?

When we are having a laugh with our friends, just letting our hair down   .

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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