Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Maria Luisa Mendiola, Founder of MIGA Swimwear, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My company MIGA Swimwear is the first-of-its-kind swimwear line inspired by and dedicated to women living with disfigurements, disabilities, and chronic illnesses. As a woman that has disfigurement myself, being able to share the stories of women living with different conditions as a way to raise awareness, increase representation, and ultimately combat stigma means a lot to me. I am deeply committed to creating a community of body love and self-acceptance among all women. Our hope is that non-disfigured and able-bodied people can reframe how they look at their own bodies and, ultimately, learn how to accept and love themselves through the lessons of the disfigurement, disability, and chronic illness community.
Tell us about yourself
MIGA Swimwear starts from my experience with a disfigurement I have on my feet. Every time I would go to the beach or the pool, which was often because I grew up in Costa Rica, I would get self-conscious and uncomfortable because people would stare at me or ask intrusive questions about my feet. I would cope with my difference by wearing bold and vibrant swimsuits that took attention away from my toes. It wasn't until I did my master's in design at Central Saint Martins UK that I started to play with the idea of creating swimsuits that not only were eye-catching and beautiful but also encouraged the wearer to accept and love their body as is. Since then, I have worked with over 400 women, disabled and non-disabled, to create swimsuits that make women feel comfortable and confident. This is my everyday motivation.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is getting to meet the women I have gotten to work with. Seeing them overcome their fears when it came to wearing a swimsuit, to see them actually enjoying the beach and the pool, there is nothing more rewarding than that.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
My background is not in product development, so after a year of many challenges trying to do it all on my own, I realized I needed to pivot. I needed to hire people that were smarter and more skilled than me, especially in the skill sets that I do not have myself, in order to scale our business. After a lot of cold calling and really putting it out there that I needed help, I found these two highly detailed-oriented and professional, overall badass ladies I hired for our last two collections, and I couldn't be happier with the results.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Don't be afraid to pivot; hire for the skills you do not have, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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