Name: Delaney Drexler
Location: Valencia, CA
Education: Bachelors of Science in Entrepreneurship, Loyola Marymount University ‘19
Name: Summer Morgan
Location: Manhattan Beach, CA
Education: Senior at Loyola Marymount University majoring in Entrepreneurship
Name: Leah Sullivan
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Education: Senior at Loyola Marymount University majoring in Entrepreneurship
Is there one person, place, thing or experience that prompted you to start Peachy Keen Swim, and what’s your primary aim with it?
We met in an entrepreneurship class at LMU in spring 2018. Throughout the semester we worked on a group project that entailed starting a business based on an industry of our choosing. We chose fashion and brainstormed a few ideas before landing on Peachy Keen. We won the pitch competition at the end of the semester but didn’t start back up and really focus on it until December 2018. We received so much enthusiasm from the judges at the pitch competition and we ourselves were so passionate about the mission behind Peachy Keen that we knew we had to keep pursuing it. Our primary aim is to empower women throughout every step of our process, from our seamstresses to our consumers. Peachy Keen swim is made sweatshop-free in LA as we want to ensure that the women and men who make our clothes are paid fairly and treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. We are dedicated to offering an inclusive size range for our bathing suits, and advertising with non-retouched images of women of all shapes and sizes. Fashion, what we wear and how we wear it, is a form of expression but over the years it’s become a stifled industry that segments women and tries to control how they express themselves. We want to help put a stop to that. There is nothing about anyone’s body that makes them more or less worthy of wearing a particular item of clothing.
As an inclusive female-founded swimwear line promoting self-love and empowering women of all shapes and sizes, what does inclusivity—specifically related to swimwear—mean to you?
Inclusivity means “for everyone.” It means not putting people in boxes based on how they look. It means having a swimsuit that can work for everyone and make everyone feel beautiful. A bikini body is just a body in a bikini!
You also talk about way more than bikinis on your blog, IG, etc., especially regarding self-love. What are your top 3 self-love strategies?
Delaney: Exercise for me is a major self-love strategy. It’s so many things for me, it’s a de-stressor, it’s uninterrupted me-time, it’s a time where I can really be one with my body and push myself to show myself how strong I can be. I gained 40 lbs when I was pregnant with my son and through the process of getting used to my new body, I learned that exercise isn’t about being perfect and it’s not a product of feeling less-than. It’s a form of self-love because you learn your body, your strengths, and you get to push boundaries that you may not otherwise be able to push. Becoming a mother gave me a strong appreciation for my body and how powerful it is; pregnancy, birth, and breast-feeding taught me that I am strong and there’s nothing I can’t do and exercise is a perfect way for me to remind myself of that. For me working out is about showing myself how strong I am and a few other things give me a sense of self-love like working out does.
Leah: Focusing on positivity is my favorite self-love strategy. Whenever I feel overwhelmed and upset, I try to take a step back and remember the things that I am grateful to put everything into perspective. Working on a business that is dedicated to positivity and women empowerment has been amazing because I am able to spend the majority of my time thinking about the positive impacts that we can make. Our Instagram is filled with quotes about self-love and body positivity, and seeing these posts day after day motivates me to keep thinking positively.
Summer: My favorite self-love strategy that I have finally been implementing in my own life is putting myself first. Recently I have finally started saying no to things I genuinely do not want to do and will not bring happiness into my life. By this I don’t mean that I don’t do favors for my family or close friends, it means when my friends ask me to go out and I don’t feel up to it, I don’t go. I stay home and do a face mask and work on my business because that’s what I want to do. I don’t let myself feel pressured to make others happy when my happiness is at stake. I wish everyone could put more self-love in their lives because when we learn to take care and love ourselves, we can help and love others as well!
What do you believe is the biggest threat to inclusive fashion/body-positive fashion today?
We’ve found that many fashion brands that claim to be inclusive do a disservice to the body positivity movement by offering different products for their plus-sized customers than they offer their standard size customers. This divide emphasizes an outdated standard that women need to wear different clothes based on their body type and can make women feel like they can’t wear the clothes that they want to wear. Trying to tell women what they can wear based on their size isn’t right. Fashion should be about what makes you feel good, which makes you feel like you. It shouldn’t be about your body type.
Body positivity is rooted in women empowerment, and it saddens us that many empowerment-based brands use sweatshop labor to produce their clothing. Approximately 80% of the world’s garment workers are women, and the majority of these women are ages 15-22. If we want to empower women, we need to think of the women who make our clothing, and ensure that we support their safe working conditions and fair pay. What good does a t-shirt with an empowering quote on it do if it was made in conditions that exploit the woman who made it?
How do you balance school with getting Peachy Keen up and running, as well as other extracurriculars, having a life, etc.—what are your go-to strategies for getting it all done?
Setting big milestones as well as daily tasks has been a huge help in reaching our goals. Our biggest driving factor is not only how passionate we are about our mission, but how passionate our community is about what we’re doing. Whenever we hear people telling us about how much they love what we stand for it makes us want to work that much harder. We enjoy what we do which is why it is easier to manage.
The three of us also really balance each other out. When someone is having a bad day, the other two are there to help out. Or if someone had a paper due or a final the next day or in Delaney’s case if she couldn’t come to a meeting because she couldn’t get a babysitter, the other two would be there to pick up any slack. We’re really grateful for each other and we constantly tell each other so because there have been some difficult days in this process and without each other, it’d be way harder of a climb. We started out as group members but we’re definitely becoming family and it creates a really motivating and loving atmosphere for us.
What’s been the most a) challenging as well as b) the most rewarding part of being a founder/creator of Peachy Keen Swim?
Summer: One of the most challenging things for me is learning that certain things are out of your control. We have had to push off dates we thought were set in stone due to problems we cannot fix. All of the problems we have had have just made us that much more resilient. There will always be problems and as a team, we are getting better and better at conquering each one. The most rewarding part so far is definitely seeing the community we have made so far. Our main goal with our business is to empower and uplift women and to see that we already have brought women together, including us three, before we have even started selling our suits, is such an honor. We can’t wait to have even more peachy babes in our community representing our amazing brand!
Delaney: The most challenging thing for me is shifting from being an undergrad student to a business owner. In our entrepreneurship classes, we’re told how it’s never easy and you face so many struggles but actually facing them with Peachy Keen has been difficult; sometimes a setback can feel like the end of the world. It can be hard to build confidence in the entrepreneurial atmosphere but we’ve made it this far and plan to keep on pushing so the learning curve has been difficult but we’ve overcome a lot of obstacles so far and that’s encouraging for me. The most rewarding thing is the knowledge I’ve gained and continue to gain, the best friends I’ve found in Summer and Leah, and the love we’ve received from our community. Also, the feeling of knowing that we’ve built something from the ground up is incomparable. Since I just graduated I’ve been asked 100 times what my next move is and being able to answer with Peachy Keen Swim has been an amazing feeling that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Leah: It has been a challenge to balance schoolwork with Peachy Keen, mostly because I wish that I could spend all of my time on the business. Transitioning from college student to business owner comes with a lot of challenges, and it feels great to go through them with the support of two great women. This work is incredibly fulfilling and makes all of the challenges more than worth it. It has been so rewarding to connect with women online and encourage self-love and body positivity. I am so proud of this brand, and can’t wait to continue shaping the fashion industry to become more empowering of the women who make and wear our clothes.
Why are women supporting other women, and empowering other women, important to you and, arguably, should be important to us all?
We need to remember that if we work together and empower each other, we can all succeed. Life isn’t a game where if one woman succeeds, other women have to fail. No two women are the same, but in this society, we come across a lot of similar experiences so we can emphatically relate to one another in more ways than one and that alone is reason enough in our minds to really build each other up. We firmly believe that no one else’s shine can dull your own.
What advice do you have for young women who want to launch an empowerment-oriented business or passion project while in college?
Summer: You are so much more capable than you think. I feel like we hold ourselves back so much in life worrying about if you can do something or what others will think. If you can push past that, and just try something for yourself, you will be amazed by what you can accomplish. Also, ASK FOR HELP! You are not weak for asking for help, you are smart! As women, we need to have each others’ backs and you would be surprised how many people will be willing to help you!
Delaney: Don’t be afraid of all the negatives. There’s always going to be a million reasons not to do something, all it takes is one good reason to ignore those million and go do it. People will doubt you, they’ll question you, they’ll tear down your ideas but all that matters is you. If you’re passionate about it, then you’re already on your way. From there it’s about execution and learning the process. Remember that execution can be taught, passion cannot. I’ve done a lot of things in the last 5 years that I never thought I was capable of and I was able to do them because I listened to my passion and I’m proud of myself for that.
Leah: If you are passionate about something, don’t let anything hold you back from pursuing it. I had a lot of doubts and fears before starting this business and once I let go of that fear and decided to pursue it, the support we have gotten has been mindblowing. The more I work on Peachy Keen, the more motivated I am to work harder because I find it so fulfilling. I would encourage any young woman to believe in themselves and pursue their passions and bet that they can achieve more than they thought they could.
Do you have a mentor or mentors? Who do you look to for inspiration and support?
There are so many people we look up to, such as Ashley Graham and Megan Jayne Crabbe. We have been lucky to have great professors that we can turn to for advice throughout this process as well. Not only do we look up to many outspoken body-positive activists, we truly look up to our community and the many empowered women we come in contact with through our social media.
Final words of wisdom to all the young women out there who are strategizing to reach their education, career, and wellness goals?
Keep pushing, nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Also remember that those things you consider roadblocks, might actually be advantages that serve you to uniquely handle your dreams in a way that no one else can. For example, Delaney was afraid that being a young mother would be an obstacle for her but it actually molded her into a more effective businesswoman and entrepreneur. You are capable of so much more than you think!
If you are open to connecting with our readers, how can they reach you?
Our Instagram is @peachykeenswim where we post things in line with our mission and connect with our community! We also have a facebook page @ Peachy Keen Swim as well as our very own Facebook group for our community called Peachy Keen Self Love Group where women ask for advice on problems, share positivity, and empower each other! Our personal Instagrams are @summerkmorgan, @delaneydrexler, and @leah2.1!