Stacie Stanley on empowering women through her swimwear brand STAYkini™
Describe your business in a few words?
STAYkini™ is a swimwear revolution created to empower women through high-quality, backless, strapless swimwear that lets us move freely and soak up the sun while avoiding unwanted tan lines and accidental exposure.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I had the idea for STAYkini™ back in 2011 but figured “someone else” would probably come out with it. By 2016, after having my fifth baby, I grew frustrated that there was still no reliable solution in the market. So, I decided to take action. If other people could create successful products and businesses, then why not me?
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I have been a corporate executive in the FinTech and payments space for over 15 years. (Whelp! …that makes me sound old!) I am also a wife and mom to 6 amazing kiddos!
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No! I’ve always loved sales, building relationships and strategic execution in my corporate career. It wasn’t until I was older that I started questioning if I could use my skills and talents to benefit my own dreams and my family. One day, I made the decision to have confidence in myself and start working on bringing my product idea to life.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
Out of the gate, I social networked – asking anyone who helped me with the brand to get the word out. Next, I pivoted to social media ads. This taught me a lot about potential customers, objections and overall initial brand first impressions. I started to see my followers grow when I partnered with niche podcasts for advertising. They have dedicated followings and I saw an immediate impact to brand support and engagement. To date, my most effective marketing investment has been finding a reputable PR agency to help with editorial and celebrity gifting strategies. It’s been a game changer.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
It took me 3 years to develop STAYkini™. When I was finally ready to order fabric for my first production run, I was told two of my colors were discontinued. I was devastated. I had to go back and re-evaluate my choices. In hindsight, it was a blessing because I launched with less colors (strategically better for production) and selected our current “Coral” color, which is more versatile for a wider range of skin tones. It taught me that setbacks are opportunities to improve and to redirect me down a better path.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I am most proud of being a role model to other women and my kids. I didn’t foresee that aspect of my journey when I started. However, I am so grateful that I can inspire others to pursue their dreams no matter where they are in life.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I typically hire based on three things: (1) Is the person knowledgeable in the area that I need help? (2) Is the person passionate and driven?….& (3) What is my overall “gut feel” of the person and how well we will work together? My biggest advice would be to utilize contractors whenever possible and pivot quickly when you know the person is no longer a fit for the role.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID impacted many aspects of the clothing manufacturing industry. Many companies pivoted to making PPE, masks, etc. Many manufactures didn’t want to take on new clients and/or couldn’t commit to production timeframes. It set back the timing for my initial production run and ultimately when I launched my website in 2020. In addition, the demand for swimwear was impacted by the lack of vacation travel.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
GROWTH! I’m focused on getting the word out about STAYkini and helping women feel beautiful and confident at the pool and the beach!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
You cannot always control timing and that’s a good thing. There are so many “hindsight blessings” that have come from unforeseen delays.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
What seems like a setback is often a blessing redirecting you to a better outcome.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
The ongoing obstacles and challenges keep me grounded. Being an entrepreneur, you are constantly learning, trying new things and faced with mountains to climb. It doesn’t matter how much I plan, am pro-active and start early, there are always unforeseen curve balls.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I believe work and life are intertwined and you must always stay mindful of your priorities and where you are spending your time. I am very driven and find much satisfaction out of a good day’s work. However, family always comes first. My best advice is to (1) wake up early and maximize the quiet time (2) stay hyper focused on the most critical activities that must be completed that day, week, month in both your family life and work – don’t sweat the rest (really!) (3) outsource as much in your life as possible to competent people so that your time is spent where it matters most…date nights, play time & driving strategic vision for your business.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
People are always surprised to learn that I have 6 kids, ages 1 to 9. Our third pregnancy was surprise boy/girl twins. When they were born, we had 4 kids under 4! That was a crazy time. However, it taught me I can do hard things and function on little sleep – lol!
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1) Have your big goals (personal & business) written out and review them every morning to maintain focus.
2) Have a running list of the small steps you need to take to accomplish each of your big goals. Review them each morning, prioritize and determine what you are going to try and accomplish that day. Make progress each day, even if it’s small (one phone call, one email, etc.). It all adds up!
3) Give yourself grace and outsource as much as you can! Our journeys are filled with unforeseen obstacles, which are necessary for growth. Be patient with yourself and welcome failures and curveballs. They are only going to make you smarter and stronger. Outsource for your sanity and to maintain focus and progress on your goals!
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista to me means supporting and encouraging other women to pursue their dreams. Your light doesn’t dim mine. We can all shine bright together.