In late 2021, DTC swimwear brand Andie Swim was hot off of a pandemic-fueled e-commerce growth spurt. The company was profitable and growing, but founder Melanie Travis thought it had the capacity to “shoot to the front of the pack” in a competitive swim market, she said. So in December of 2021, Andie raised $20 million in funding from Marcy Ventures, Jay Z’s investment firm that’s also invested in Savage x Fenty, and started planting seeds for the company’s growth. That brought the company’s total fundraising to more than $30 million in its six years of life.
Now, a year and a half later, many of those seeds are starting to bear fruit. Since 2021, Andie Swim has launched regular collaborations with big name celebrities, influencers and brands including actor Mindy Kaling and womenswear brand Fanm Mon. In addition, the brand has a new wholesale strategy, selling in Nordstrom after a test with the retailer last autumn. And in March, it opened its first permanent flagship store in Malibu. The brand is limiting its retail presence to its one flagship and Nordstrom, for now, but opening pop-ups is a possibility, Travis said.
“It’s been a super active time for us,” Travis said. “A lot of the capital we raised went toward hiring. We brought in executives from Glossier [like Pooja Parikh, Andie’s new vp of planning and operations] and elsewhere. We now put out new product every three weeks, and we’re in Nordstrom, which is a big move. When you’re in a competitive category like we are, you need to diversify.”
The regular drops have been particularly successful for Andie Swim. The brand is on track to grow its revenue 25% this year, which would equate to a 75% increase over its revenue in 2018. They’re typically small runs, which limits costs, and they allow Andie to stay topical. For example, in June, it released an all-pink Barbie-themed collection to coincide with the buzzy new film.
But wholesale is where Travis sees the most potential for Andie’s continued growth. At this point, direct sales through e-commerce still make up the largest bulk of Andie’s sales, with wholesale making up about 10%. But Travis said she hopes to build up the wholesale business to make up 50% of sales.
She said waiting six years after Andie was established to broach wholesale was a strategic move. As an established brand, Andie can be more selective about which wholesalers it works with and in what capacity. For example, Nordstrom only buys the seasonless core styles, which make up about 70% of Andie’s product catalog, while limited-time collections like the Barbie capsule remain exclusive to Andie’s direct channels.
As for the new flagship store, Travis said Andie is applying many of the lessons it learned from its many pop-ups, some of which lasted nearly a year, to its first permanent location. For one, those pop-ups helped to triangulate which Andie products work best in which regions. Travis said the Malibu store moves through bikinis and bright colors far faster than pop-ups in New York, where everyone buys black one-pieces.
As customer acquisition costs rise as much as 70% and changes in policies from platforms like Meta and Google can upend e-commerce strategies overnight, physical retail provides a more stable source of revenue, Travis said.
“Setting up an e-commerce is shop is about 1% of the effort it takes to set up a physical store,” Travis said. “But a store has a tried-and-true playbook. It might be easy to set up a Shopify store, but then you have the challenge of getting people to know about it. A store that’s well-merchandised and positioned in the right place with good product will draw people in naturally.”
Stores can also help build a relationship with a customer that’s direct, rather than mediated by a tech platform like Meta or Google. These direct relationships can lead to better retention, according to Denia Ebersole, COO of the retention platform Catch. And the more channels through which a brand can connect with the consumer, the better.
Travis said both she and Andie’s board of directors have been focused on diversification, particularly in marketing. For years, Andie relied heavily on digital ads through Meta to grow, but now the company is trying to wean itself off of Mark Zuckerberg’s digital empire, she said.
“The board encouraged us to grow the legs of the stool, so to speak,” Travis said. “So we’re focusing on physical stores, wholesale and collaborations [that allow for] crossover with another brand’s or influencer’s audience — anything we can do to not rely solely on one source of new customers.”