Create & Cultivate 100: Fashion: Natasha Oakley & Devin Brugman

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Don’t let the golden tans and crystal clear waters fool you—the business of bikinis is serious work. Take it from Tash Oakley and Devin Brugman.

The beach-loving business BFFs and bikini connoisseurs spent years building their brand on social media, and their swimwear business is a testament to this labor of love. The duo launched A Bikini a Day in 2012, a blog dedicated to...well, showcasing a bikini a day. But here’s the thing about consistency: It’s the direct product of work ethic. And relationships, especially on social media, require that kind of consistency. It wasn’t long before A Bikini a Day became a community of its own—a digital enclave for women to share love for their bodies and celebrate swimwear that enhanced that self love.

The community behind A Bikini A Day gave Oakley and Brugman the fuel to create MONDAY Swimwear, a collection built on the notion that every body is a beach body. With the support of their collective 4 million Instagram followers, the entrepreneurs launched the brand’s first collection in 2014. Their sophomore collection debuted in 2015 and sold out in under 48 hours.

Fast forward to 2019 and this dynamic duo has plenty more “firsts” on their horizon. Their consistency has given way to a successful business poised for growth and a community of passionate, body-positive warriors.

Reflecting on what they’ve built and what lies on the sand bar ahead, Oakley and Brugman consider just how social media, their friendship, and their values shaped their booming biz.

You both went from having a blog to being brand owners. How do you still manage the two successfully?

Creating Monday Swimwear was a natural next step for us and went hand-in-hand with running a blog. Both A Bikini A Day and Monday Swimwear encompass the same lifestyle and they both seamlessly fit into our lives. Our incredible Monday Swimwear team has also helped tremendously in building, strengthening, and running the brand.

What goes into the design process for Monday Swimwear? What’s your inspiration?

Our design process begins with what we believe will flatter the female form. First and foremost, fit and comfort are always our priority. We ask ourselves “Would we actually want to wear this?” over and over when working on designs. It may sound selfish, but we often start by designing for ourselves. As bikini connoisseurs, we truly know what we like and seek when shopping for swim, and we believe we know what our customer is looking for. Our inspiration comes from so many places, but the classic, timeless, and effortless fashion from the 80’s and 90’s is a huge inspiration for our design.

Monday Swimwear has body-positivity at its core. Why is that so important to the both of you?

Body positivity has been a foundational part of our company and its core value from day one. This was something that came very natural to us because we are both curvaceous women and know the struggles of finding flattering and classic swimwear that actually fits. It’s very important for us to make Monday Swimwear as inclusive as possible. We know how disappointing it is to find something you love that doesn’t fit well. We really strive to make sexy and great-fitting swimwear for all different shapes and sizes without sacrificing comfort.

What’s the key to building a business with social media?

Patience, passion, persistence, and consistency. These factors are extremely important in building a business with social media. A lot of people expect overnight success as we’re living in an era of instant satisfaction, but patience is key. It took us 6 years to build our brands and achieve success. It also takes a lot of hard work and dedication. We’ve dedicated our lives to our companies, and this requires lots of passion.

Why is it important for influencers to pay it forward and use their voices?

We believe having an influential platform comes with a responsibility to share good to the world. Topics such as environmental issues, political views, human rights, body positivity, and animal rights are all topics some of our favorite influencers incorporate into their social media.

What about your job makes you feel the most fulfilled?

Being able to inspire women around the world is the most fulfilling part of our job. Women tell us all the time that we’ve inspired them to start a business or to love their bodies and rock that bikini they’ve always been scared to wear! The fact that we can impact so many lives on a deeper level is the most rewarding thing.

Hitting a road bump or hurdle happens more often than people know. We see them as opportunities to learn and grow. We really can’t live with them, but also can’t live without them!

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

As cliché as it sounds, some of the best advice we’ve ever received is to do what you love so you won’t ever have to work a day in your life. Running our own business requires our attention 365 days of the year. If you don’t love what you’re doing, the constant demands will take a toll on you personally.

What’s been the biggest highlight of your career to date?

Our biggest career highlight would definitely be successfully launching Monday Swimwear and building our business to achieve the success it’s been able to achieve thus far. We’ve worked on so many amazing partnerships and have had some dream collaborations over the years, however there’s nothing more rewarding than launching our own brand as our most successful endeavor.

Where does your passion/drive come from?

Both of us come from entrepreneurial families. We’ve always been taught that if you want something you have to work hard to get it. Having this mindset from childhood has helped fuel our drive and remain passionate.

Whose career really inspires you?

Jessica Alba and Elle MacPherson!

Whose style do you love?

Definitely Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (another Create & Cultivate 100 honoree!).

What has been your biggest opportunity to date?

The social media era/movement is definitely the foundation of our business.

What would you change about the fashion industry if you could?

We would love to see sizing standardized throughout the fashion industry. The fashion and swim industries are moving in a really positive direction by becoming more inclusive and using more sustainable fabrics and materials. However, on a more fundamental level, if sizing was standardized, it would revolutionize fashion. We would also love if brands stopped using animal fur.

When you hit a bump or hurdle in your career, how do you find a new road + switch gears to find success?

Hitting a road bump or hurdle happens more often than people know. We see them as opportunities to learn and grow. We really can’t live with them, but also can’t live without them!

What’s next for you? What are you most excited for in 2019?

Summer 2019 is going to be really exciting for us, and especially for Monday Swimwear. We have so many amazing launches and really cool surprises coming out. We can’t wait to share it with you all!

Photography by Annie McElwain Photography

Photoshoot skincare provided by Dermalogica