Soon after Erin Deering met ex-AFL footballer, Craig Ellis, she found herself in a pickle. They were off to the beach and she needed a new bikini– but couldn’t find anything she liked for under $200.
“After talking to Craig about it … we were inspired by the idea of starting a designer swimwear label that was more affordable and accessible,” she says.
In June 2012, the pair quit their jobs and moved from Melbourne to Hong Kong to pursue their dream. They wanted to be closer to their supply chain, and central to the rest of the world.
They may have identified a gap in the market, but the early days were tough. At one stage their combined savings had dwindled to just $500.
Swallowing their pride, they asked a few friends for help, who lent $25,000 to get their first production off the line.
"The world’s fastest growing swimwear brand."
However it wasn’t until they changed their business model – from wholesaling to selling exclusively through their own website – that the business, Triangl, started booming.
“Not only did it allow us to have control over our branding and the way we wanted Triangl to be seen by our potential customers, but we were also able to communicate to our customers one-on-one,” says Deering.
The first year, sales hit $5 million, rising to $25 million in the second and $45 million last year. Triangl claims it’s the world’s fastest growing swimwear brand.
In the beginning, Deering says they had “close to zero marketing budget,” so social media was the obvious choice.
Instagram (Triangl has 2.9 million followers) has been one of the biggest drivers of growth.
Deering says no one has been paid to wear the bikinis, but they have been gifted to celebrities. Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and Kendall Jenner have all posted photos of themselves in the togs.
"Although we’re already established as a global brand, there are still massive opportunities for growth.”
Aside from the rocky start, there have been constant challenges along the way – particularly in dealing with such heady growth.
“As it was pretty much just Craig and I when we started, we had to recruit and put processes in place really quickly when we found we could no longer do everything ourselves,” says Deering.
They also had to streamline the way they communicated with customers, and forecast for constantly growing sales figures.
These days the pair and their one-year-old son, Oscar, live in Monaco.
Their focus continues to be on product development.
“The global market out there is huge and although we’re already established as a global brand, there are still massive opportunities for growth,” says Deering.
Larissa Ham is a Melbourne-based freelancer. She write for publications including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The New Daily and Forge magazine, and also shares money saving tips at Hey, Little Spender!