Frankie’s Bikinis designer Francesca Aiello may only be 18, but her designs have already been worn by supermodels and celebrities including Candice Swanepoel and Ireland Baldwin and she's quickly gained a large social media following. Known for her sexy, seamless swimwear, we spoke with the designer about how she started her brand, how she has leveraged social media to find success and more.
theFashionSpot: You’re so young! Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what gave you the idea to start a line?
Francesca Aiello: I grew up in Malibu, so I basically lived in bikinis. My mom always told me that I should design my own swimwear line and a few years ago I began researching how I could do it and the rest is history!
tFS: Can you elaborate on that and how you went about raising funds to start your line?
FA: My mom is the co-owner of Frankie’s Bikinis. She has helped me along the way with everything. I am very thankful to have such supportive parents.
tFS: How did you go about getting retailers’ attention?
FA: We started gaining response through social media. Retailers noticed Frankie’s Bikinis through our posts on Tumblr and from there the momentum grew.
tFS: What have been the biggest challenges along the way?
FA: Our biggest challenges have had to do with finding the right fabrics. Specifically, just the right nylon and spandex materials.
tFS: Was there ever a point you thought of giving up and if so what made you stick with it?
FA: There were many times throughout the process where I thought about giving up. I started Frankie’s Bikinis in high school and was made fun of all the time for having a bikini line. This was a time in my career where I needed to really focus on my dream of having a successful swimsuit line and with the encouragement from my mom, I decided to finish high school online in order to continue to work hard.
tFS: How have you used Instagram and other social media platforms to help get your brand out there?
FA: Being so young was actually an advantage for me because I knew the varying aspects of social media. I believe it is very important to be covered on all social media outlets — Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. — in order to gain a following for your brand. As of now, we have about 80,000 Instagram followers, which is growing rapidly.
tFS: How does, for example, Candice Swanepoel posting an image of herself in one of your pieces on Instagram affect sales?
FA: We were so excited because we gained a lot of attention from photos she posted on social media. Having celebrities like her wear our bikinis made people around the country want to buy the exact suit she was wearing.
tFS: Your background is in surfing, do you consider functionality when designing your swimsuits? Because they look more fashionable than functional.
FA: Frankie’s Bikinis is unique because it offers functionality along with being stylish. As for me, I am typically the girl swimming, surfing or paddle boarding in the ocean. No matter the design, I always design to satisfy the active women at the beach so they are always comfortable in my suits.
tFS: Any celebrities/models who have not been photographed in one of your pieces that you would love to see in one of them?
FA: Rihanna always posts photos of herself in bikinis on Instagram. It is my goal for 2014 to get her in Frankie’s Bikinis!