Swimming Into Spring

Mar 24, 2011 2 Comments

We couldn’t be happier to ring in spring with this creative swimwear company entitled, Caffé Swimwear. Headed up by the fabulously talented Paula Saavedra, this swimwear line went from hobby to hot international hit in little over two years.

The Columbian born designer came to the US to study advertising and marketing. After graduation she began working in Miami where she met her husband with whom she eventually moved to Venezuela. It was in Venezuela (a country where most recreational activity is spent at the beach) that Paula began her swimwear obsession. She discovered the need for quality high-end swimwear and the lack thereof.caffe

In 2005 Caffé Swimwear had two operating stores in Venezuela. In order to start her company and store-purchasing process, Paula had to take out a loan from the bank; following this was a six-month process. This six-month process consisted of research and finding the right seamstresses and people to capture her vision for design. “My factory has always been in Columbia and I used to travel back and forth once a month, but now I’ve been living in Columbia for the past two years.” Soon after opening her Venezuelan based stores, she noticed much of her clientele was from out of the country. These buyers would come and purchase her product and then re-sell the bathing suits in their own stores; stores based in Brazil, Paris, and even St. Barths.

This observant and cunning business woman knew it was time to take the next big step for her company, however before doing so, she made sure she had all the correct tools with which to market herself. “I am a perfectionist when it comes to my brand and how it’s marketed. It’s hard to start websites in Venezuela and to get quality; I actually had to do it twice over before I thought it was right. However, it was a fun process as I studied advertising and marketing, so I really enjoy the entire creative process – no matter the struggles,” explains this seasoned professional.

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Jump forward to Miami Fashion Week 2009. Armed with some great designs, a website and marketing tools to follow, Caffé Swimwear and it’s stunning designer were more then present, they had their own fashion show. Along with the fashion show, Paula made sure to grab a booth at the swim trade show for the upcoming season with her designs. It was at this trade show she feels “the whole thing exploded.”

But before we jump to the flashy explosion and fun rewards every company hopes to eventually attain, let’s better understand Paula’s process leading up to her “explosion” of success.

Back at the 2009 swim trade show, Caffé Swimwear and its owner met a publicist named Yael (of YaYa Publicity). When we asked how Paula found Yael she said, “Actually I think she found me.” Since this chance meeting at Paula’s trade show booth, they have been working wonders together. Paula shares, “I love working with her because she is a great professional, but she is also a great person. She has the contacts in the industry and she knows what magazines are looking for. Yael is constantly sending my pieces to magazines and various marketing outlets and publications. In the fashion industry women love to have what they see in their favorite magazines.”

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Caffé Swimwear’s creative and luxurious designs, paired with some outstanding marketing and PR has landed them on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Vouge, Ocean Drive and multiply celebrities such as, Camila Alves and Miley Cyrus. Paula believes it’s due to this exposure she has been able to expand her company internationally, as success has come to her both fast and furiously.

So, naturally by 2010 Caffé Swimwear had opened their 3rd store in Santo Domingo. These three stores quickly grew to more and now you can find Paula’s designs in 40 countries around the world, she also sells to boutiques and high-end department stores, such as Harvey Nichols in Dubai and London. Just goes to show what a lot of talent, marketing skills and great PR can do for your company.

With regards to how Paula manages to control all her stores, she replied, “We established a process for how all our stores should operate, and now this is followed throughout each store in each country. You have to have a great operations manual on how things need to work efficiently and effectively. For example, when I change window displays once a week, we take pictures and send them to the other stores, so they are all the same. It may seem small, but makes a huge difference.” She goes on to say how hiring and working with the right people really helps her business, along with that essential ingredient: communication.

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With much success, comes much profit, right? When we asked Paula this question she was sincere enough to reply, “Caffé is making great profits and it continues to increase in sales, however when starting the company my goal was never to get rich, rather it was to do something I really loved and I will continue along this track.”

These profits didn’t come without some good old-fashioned hard work and a fair amount of struggle. Paula explains her struggles from a multi-tasker’s point of view, “The process of being an independent entrepreneur is not easy and for a woman it’s even more difficult because it’s not just about the business for us. For most females we have a home to look after, children to care for and a husband to tend too. This is an ongoing challenge and you need to have the motivation and character to keep everything running smoothly and creating time to do all things needed. There have been times when I’ve felt frustrated over the fact I’ve had so much work, but I also have to tend to my family.”  An example of one such situation happens every November for Paula. She travels to Europe to attend one of the biggest fabric trade shows to purchase fabrics for the next season, unfortunately it falls at the same time as her youngest sons birthday. So, for the past four years (his exact age) she has had to make the compromise of celebrating his special day early. She’ll tell you that as of yet, he has no complaints and just wants a big party!

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As for the future of Caffé Swimwear, it looks just as fruitful as it’s past and present. June 1st marks the opening of their US online store, later in the year this service will be made available to the rest of the world. Subsequently, Paula will continue to be a dreamer and she encourages other entrepreneurs to do the same, “ My tip for success is to be a dreamer and a doer! The road for success is a curvy one. It’s important to have a positive attitude, and always find a way to hurdle each obstacle by moving ahead in the process.”

Written by: Bridgette

CAFFE SWIMWEAR

www.caffeswimwear.com

Across The Sea, Cities, Los Angeles, Other Cities

2 Responses to “Swimming Into Spring”

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  2. Fatima Schroot says:

    Great read, thank you so much for the article.

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