This is a follow up story for Amanda Louise Swimwear. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Well hello again! Amanda Freick here - the owner of AmandaLouise. We’re a Luxury Beach and Fitness Competition swimwear company completely dedicated to the women in our community. Although I LOVE bikinis, my real purpose is supporting the physical, mental, and spiritual health of my girls. I like to say that the swimwear is the physical embodiment of that because you look great, you feel great.
Our business is in two parts. 1) Luxury Beachwear and 2) Fitness Competition Suits.
1) I freaking love bikinis. I live in Arizona where it’s pool weather 6months (or more) out of the year. I have a pretty specific style when it comes to my swim wardrobe, simple yet sexy. I knew what I wanted, but couldn’t find it on the shelves. Now I create made-to-order, high-quality suits for women like me who just want to be simple, sexy, and show off their curves. Our 2020 collection is called Crystal Vibes and includes a genuine crystal with your swimwear. This came about because I’ve stepped into my spirituality practice over the last couple of years, and knew I wanted to blend it somehow into my swim line (beyond just talking about it on my podcast - Confessions of a Fit Chick.)
Each bikini is named after the stone that comes with it, and we share the energetic properties of each stone on the site. Also, because all of our suits are hand made, we take your specific crystal on the entire creation process with your bikini, which includes being infused with loving energy from both myself and my seamstress. (Yes, I still sew a ton of suits, but with a full-time corporate leadership job I need help!) Then when your suit is shipped, the beautiful crystal is full of energy specifically placed within it for YOU. Ya, we’ve gotten pretty “woo-woo” over here, and I couldn’t love it anymore.
2) Fitness competition swimwear is how it all started back in 2014. My competitors are the life-blood of this business and I can’t begin to explain how honored I feel every time one of my girls steps on stage. I offer both custom suits, and a rental collection to allow for all sorts of budgets. (competition suits can get EXPENSIVE… upwards of $1,000). With the COVID-19 pandemic, all shows were canceled which overnight decimated our regular income. More on that later. The good news is that shows are slowly coming back and our community is more fired up than ever!
(This is our latest rental, the Joanna Bikini. If you were to purchase this as a custom suit, it would be $725, but as a rental, you can wear it on stage for just $150!!)
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
So let’s start with the pandemic because that has impacted EVERYONE. My revenue went from ~$5k a month to $0 overnight. Make that negative because everyone wanted refunds from previously booked rentals and custom suits for shows that were no longer happening. To be honest, I am still digging out of the refund hole. Strict refund policies are great, but that all went out the window with this. Girls were losing jobs, and locking them into investments they may never use was something I couldn’t stomach. Luckily, Amanda Louise is my side hustle and my corporate job sustains us financially… so though painful, I knew I could weather this storm.
With the pandemic slamming shut our income stream, I decided to figure out a way to stay creative (my day job is in engineering, so more logic/strategy… less creativity) while also helping any way I could amid this global crisis. That first started with sewing and donating hundreds of masks. Later we did sell some (one large order specifically before they became readily available) and that paid the bills for a month or so. The coolest part of that was how we got the order. I had posted a picture of sewing masks in my backyard, and a previous colleague from my corporate job saw it. The Fortune 500 company she works for needed hundreds of masks within 4 days for new city regulations and had no way to get them from any “normal” vendor. I not only got to charge that company for the masks to create income for Amanda Louise, but I also rallied up several local sewers and passed on 90% of the revenue to them when they were also out of work. That pivot was crucial in our financial health in the spring.
After the masks, I started seeing social media posts about how bad wearing a mask all day was hurting everyone’s ears. I remembered seeing a headband with buttons on it, and thought “I can make those.” For YEARS I have been wearing a single style of a headband made from Lycra, the same fabric we use for swimwear. It’s SO comfortable and I wear it because I get headaches from everything else. Well, a quick run to Walmart for buttons, and a few hours later, I had my first batch of headbands to go live with. Again, I wanted to support the world any way I could during this pandemic so I created the Headbands for Heroes project. For every headband sold, we donate one to someone in healthcare. It’s been AMAZING and we’ve shipped HUNDREDS of headbands. (Oh, and you can get headbands without the buttons too. We’ve also upgraded to lab coat buttons which are awesome for this purpose.)
With shows now coming back, we’re keeping the Headbands for Heroes project going, but also shifting back into competition suit production mode. With my corporate career continuing to be extremely demanding, the need for streamlining processes and automating as many things as possible has become even more important. Here are a few tools/tricks I use to have my one-woman show “feel” like a whole team is behind me.
17hats - I can’t say enough about this web-based project management solution. I’ve been using it for 4+ years now and LOVE IT. (You can save 50% OR MORE by using my referral link. Yes this is a shameless plug.) Here’s how I use it:
Lead Capture: EVERY client I work with for competition suits starts with a lead capture form. They fill out all their basic info and competition date, which is stored in their project file and also sent to me via text message. I like getting the texts for general awareness that I need to log in that day to follow up.
Automatic Intro Emails: For custom competition suits, the process is kind of intense. I like to work 1x1 with every client through virtual consultations and then of course there’s the actual production of the suit. So, to make my life easier, I don’t even log in to a person’s file until AFTER they’ve scheduled their consult. When they fill out the specific lead form for custom competition suits, an automatic email is shot out which contains general info on working with me, and a link to schedule their consult. It also includes a welcome video that has gotten GREAT feedback over the years. (Side note, video is POWERFUL. If you needed the Universe to give you a sign to get more video into your business, here it is a sweetheart.)
Workflows: The entire suit process, either renting or custom, is completely documented in my 17hats Workflows. The best part about them is steps can be made automatic (like reminder emails based on show dates), can include documents (like quotes, invoices, or contracts), and keeps me in check so I dont forget any part of the process for any client!
Invoicing: I was a PayPal girl for years, but 17hats makes me feel more legit. Their quote functionality is amazing if you’re looking to upsell, and it can auto-send invoices after your client accepts a quote! You also have the choice of what backend invoicing system is used (mine is still set to PayPal) but the front end feels custom to your client.
I really can’t say enough nice things about 17hats. It takes some time to set up but is worth EVERY second.
Trello - This is the system I use to keep track of where clients are in the Amanda Louise lifecycle all in one place. 17hats is limited to looking at one project at a time, wherein Trello I can create “cards” in “lists” to get a more global view of where things are at. I use Trello to track things like:
Where rentals are, when they’re due back, and the return shipping tracking number
Where clients are in the custom suit creation process
Need to pack fabric bag
Take to seamstress
Pick up from seamstress
What I do in Trello I used to do with sticky notes on a whiteboard. That was great until my travel schedule for my corporate job got hectic. I needed a way to access where everything was from my phone, and Trello was the answer. Below is a screenshot of my Rentals “Board.” (Note - all the rental bikinis have names, so that’s what you see there!) I also have boards in Trello for keeping lists of various business ideas. It’s nice to write them down, and have them for later when my time allows me to focus on something new.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
You’ve got to remain flexible, and when you do something with a pure heart, the Universe will reward you.
Be scrappy, work smart and not hard, and let the Universe bring you the amazing opportunities that are already on their way.
I had NO idea that making masks or creating the Headbands for Heroes project would end up driving enough revenue to keep my business running without dipping into my finances. Both were truly started as a way to HELP in the world’s time of need, and the Universe answered with incredible business opportunities.
I’ve also learned that if your gut is telling you something over and over again, LISTEN. This is why I’ve started a YouTube channel completely unrelated to swimwear… more on that below.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Just recently I launched a YouTube channel. Now, you may be thinking this will be filled with hot girls in bikinis, lol, but that couldn’t be less true. My corporate career is something I’ve kept very separate from Amanda Louise, simply because they didn’t have anything to do with one another. In my day job, I am a Regional Director of Business Operations for a ~$1B engineering/consulting firm. I’m extremely passionate about the industry I’m in (energy) and equally passionate about supporting women incorporate. Although many entrepreneurs have this super negative attitude towards corporate and will publicize quitting day jobs like a huge success (which sometimes absolutely is, so don’t get me wrong here…) I believe that corporations and experience within them are invaluable. I mean, every huge corporation started as an idea someone had one day. LET THAT SINK IN. They were JUST LIKE ME AND YOU. Learning about how large companies function, the growing pains, the overhead costs, etc can put you lightyears ahead as you grow your own business. Anyways, enough on that rant… back to the YouTube channel.
So, I started to realize that my spiritual journey was fueled by resources I learned about in entrepreneurial circles. BUT, that the practices I had embraced were having a greater impact on my performance and mindset within the corporate. #MindBlown The women who are working their asses off, smashing glass ceilings, oh and often also raising a family is the ones who NEED this stuff for their sanity and growth, but it’s the “boss babe” “side hustle” “influencer” crowd that this insanely valuable info is getting to. (And marketed to.)
I knew I had to change that. I knew I had to step out within the corporate circle and let my “woo-woo” flag fly. And you know what? As I started sharing some of my personal life (like the fact that I meditate almost every day, or that I journal using visualization prompts) I found out that MANY of the MOST successful people I know incorporate have this secret life that is completely and spiritual. More big corporation CEOs than you think have a meditation practice, believe me. Then it hit me, I HAD to get this info to women incorporates. To show them how to “connect their corporate self to their higher self.” I also knew it had to be PRACTICAL. Not like hanging moon phase mirrors in your office, burning sage, learning tarot, and charging crystals in moonlight. (Although, sign me up for all of that.) It needed to be bite-sized information with a “mindfulness” aspect woven throughout. Quick meditations… conference call hacks and why I hold a crystal during tough conversations… journal prompts to manifest what you need to be successful. IT WORKS, and I am beyond thrilled to be bringing it to life on YouTube. Now, I’m a complete YouTube newbie, and I’m sure things will get better with time, but for now, I’m just focused on getting the content out there.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I love love love to read. I’m usually reading several books at a time. Here are a few of my favorites recently:
Super Attractor by Gabby Bernstien- I love me some Gabby and this might be my favorite of her books. If you’re looking for some serious manifesting inspiration, this is the book for you.
The Sandler Rules by David Mattson - The Sandler method is a way to sell (although they also have amazing leadership practices.) The whole thing is based around the fact that people DECIDE to purchase based on emotions, and then JUSTIFY that purchase with logic. It’s a super easy read and incredible tactic if you’re in the business of selling ANYTHING.
Being the Boss by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback - If you’re going to be leading a team, this is a MUST read. Shout out to my dear friend and mentor Kim who lent me her copy.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Stick with it, and find a support system. You need someone to vent to, and preferably do NOT make that person your significant other. I have two women in my life (Mary and Megan) who I chat with almost daily on an app called Voxer. Both have their businesses and we share struggles, wins, frustrations, whatever. It allows for the female need to “talk things out” but also gives me two genuine voices of feedback for all aspects of my life.
I also would say in today’s uncertain world, think twice before taking on debt in a business. I learned that the hard way. Be scrappy, work smart and not hard, and let the Universe bring you the amazing opportunities that are already on their way.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
YES. Due to some incredible opportunities in my “corporate” career, I’m looking for the right hand in Amanda Louise. Someday, if it’s the right fit, I’d be looking to partially (or completely) transition the business to them. SO, if you’re interested in swimwear, know how to sew, and think this might be a gig for you, please reach out through this email.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Instagram - We have two accounts, but we focus primarily on @amandalouiseswimwear. @amandalouisebeach was made for our non-competition stuff, but due to time constraints, we keep most posting to the main account these days.
- You can also request to follow my account! @amandafreick
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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