This week we chatted to Irish designer, Lyndel Dowd about how Summers spent on the shores of Derrynane, Co. Kerry, inspired her when making the leap to create her own swimwear label, I Am Zazie, while living in Sydney last year. Having worked in Australian fashion since 2009, it was her expertise as a fit model which led her to create flattering, feminine and stylish swimwear that bring elegance, comfort and most importantly, a great fit.
What was your “aha!” moment, the moment you knew you wanted to take the plunge and start your business?
I feel that most women have worked in jobs where we have been undervalued or underpaid at some point in our lives. Tired of working insane hours in toxic environments, feeling unfulfilled creatively and only living for the weekends, I needed a change.
I am a very driven person and have always loved a challenge. I have always felt most at home close to the ocean and have a passion for art and design, along with years of experience in the fashion industry. So, it was a no-brainer for me to start my own business creating swimwear, surf apparel and apres-beachwear. I realised that I could combine aspects of what I love most to create bikinis, one-piece swimsuits and beachwear that women love wearing.
What were your biggest fears before striking out?
The idea that I was taking on too much. Could I really venture out on my own? Once I took those first steps and made the decision to start I Am Zazie, it became a case of following my business plan and always staying true to the core values of the brand. I didn’t want I Am Zazie to be like every other swimwear company out there, so instead I created a brand that represents the I Am Zazie girl as strong, empowered, talented and unique. The response since launching our collection has been amazing! We are working with activists, world-record breaking free-divers, conservationists, artists and other amazing women who embody the #iamzazie vibe on so many exciting projects.
What was your biggest career fail and what did you learn from it?
Not having done this sooner. Starting I Am Zazie has changed my life for the better, in so many ways. I now have control over what I am doing, where I am going, who I work with and how I want the business to run and grow. I now have amazing opportunities to travel the world, work with insanely talented creatives and create swim and beachwear products for inspiring and talented women internationally.
What does your working day look like?
7 am I used to be a terrible morning person. Now that I am working on something I love, I actually enjoy getting up early! There is a stunning stretch of Australian coastline right on my doorstep so I try to start my day with a walk on the beach and a swim in the surf – it’s Winter in Australia now but the weather is still warm and sunny. Plus it’s a great excuse to try out our new swimwear designs!
8 am Armed with a coffee in hand, I write out a checklist of what I need to do that day. I’m quite competitive so I find it important to be able to envisage my goals and have that sense of achievement at the end of the day when my list has been checked off.
8.30 am Once the coffee has kicked in I get straight into emails – organising upcoming photo shoots, coordinating with fabric suppliers in Italy and the production team, chatting with the models, athletes, bloggers, stylists and photographers we have projects lined up with around the globe.
1 pm So much of my day is spent in front of screens so any opportunity to step away is welcomed. I’ll either try to fit in another quick dip in the ocean or challenge myself to something different. At the moment I am learning Italian. Most of the fabric we use for our I Am Zazie swimwear comes from an environmentally conscious mill in Italy. I am also making the move to the Amalfi coast later this year so I have to keep practicing!
2 pm I need to have a creative outlet. So I usually crank a playlist on Spotify while I sketch out new beachwear designs, compose our flatlays for social media, brainstorm new shoot concepts or develop mood boards for future campaigns and collections.
5.30pm My husband and I usually walk on the beach together as the sun sets, glass of wine in hand.
9 pm I try to catch up on social media, Skype with my family back in Ireland and send off any urgent emails to suppliers and contacts in Europe.
What is your advice to anyone who feels unhappy in their career?
Take the time to work out exactly what it is you want to do and work out the steps on how to best to get you there. Make a list of goals you want to have achieved in 10 years time (be your own boss, own your own house, become fluent in another language, travel to all seven continents etc). Imagine what you can achieve in life if could accomplish your 10-year goals in just one year. Look at this list regularly and take steps towards achieving these goals.
If you’re not sure what career path to choose, you need to take time to work that out. Make time for yourself to get your head around what it is that scares and excites you.
Then go for it!