This 23-Year-Old Woman Is Making Waves With Her Swimsuit Company

She's 23, sometimes has purple hair, and is on a mission to put women in swimsuits they feel comfortable and confident in. Kortni Jeane Niccoli is the designer and entrepreneur behind Kortni Jeane swimsuits, and her vibrant, mix-and-match suits for men, women, and kids are so popular, she can't keep them in stock.

Kortni, who hails from Provo, UT, spoke with me about the inspiration behind her company, the struggles of being a one-woman show, and how she's used Instagram to heat up business. She said:

"No matter when was the last time you put a swimsuit on, I wanted to create a swimmer that every person, no matter their body type, feels comfortable and confident in! Established in 2014, I launched Kortni Jeane in hopes of bringing you swimmers that represent your personality without having to pay for a custom suit."

Read on for her interview and check out her fresh and fun swimmers if you're ready to get some serious beach fever.

What first got you interested in fashion and sewing?

I grew up sewing. My mom is major into sewing, especially quilting, so I have known how to sew ever since I can remember. I never thought it would lead me to a career someday because I was not the cleanest sewer. I was more of a "get it done" sewer. Then it wasn't until my senior year of high school that I actually started to use my skills for a future job. I was in a swimsuit sewing class, and I remember a swimsuit company coming to talk to us and I turned to my friends in class and said something along the lines of "I will never make swimsuits for people." And just a few years later that's exactly what I do! After graduating from high school, I took a year off to work and then attended Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in LA. I loved my time and experience there. It was a two-year program, but I fast-tracked it and graduated after 18 months. I wouldn't trade my time or experience there for anything.

How did you come up with the concept of these suits? What inspired you?

Swimsuits are constantly on my mind, and often when I am out to dinner, eating a chocolate chip cookie, driving in my car, just doing everyday activities, ideas come to mind. I am inspired by just everyday life, and my goal is to make the everyday girl feel wonderful in my suits no matter her body type. I've seen my suits on every age from newborns to an 80-year-old woman and haven't seen someone who doesn't look incredible and come out of the dressing room beaming because they are comfortable in a SWIMSUIT!

What else makes your suits unique, besides the fit?

The whole concept behind my brand is to offer unique swimsuits. One of the ways we keep them this way is by offering limited quantities in each color and pattern. Once they sell out they are GONE and new options are then introduced. So if you love something, you can’t think twice about it and just have to snatch it up, because it will most likely be your only opportunity.

What made you decide to start your own company?

When I was making suits for myself, I would have friends come to me to make them one because they loved it. Then their friends and family members would come to me, and before you knew it I had strangers showing up at my parents' doorstep asking if I would make them a suit. I made custom suits for people for a while until it got out of hand, and I couldn't take on all the clients that were coming to me. So after a LOT of encouragement from family and friends, I decided I would give manufacturing a whirl. I often say it fell into my hands, but my family often corrects me because I work really hard at it — it didn't really fall, but rather pushes me.

I know you have a huge Instagram following. How do you utilize social media to promote your business?

Pretty much the only way I market/advertise my business is through social media. I use all forms, but Instagram is the biggest, most successful way to get the word out about my business. Without Instagram I am not sure I would have been able to grow as quickly and definitely would not have been able to create the strong loyal customer base I have now.

You started on Etsy before launching your own site. Can you tell me a little about how you transitioned away from Etsy and why you decided to do that?

The transition has been tough for me. Etsy was taking a lot of my profit, so that's when I decided to move to my own website. Also I was no longer a "handmade company" but a full-blown business. It's a great way to start a company and get your name out there, but it wasn't fitting the needs for my growing company. It took me a long time to get my website made and up and running, and during that time I had everything completely shut down so people weren't really sure what was going on as much as I tried to keep people informed. I know a lot of my Etsy customers still haven't realized I have moved to a website and that can get frustrating. It's been a couple of years now, and I am pleased with my website and the more user-friendly format it offers my customers vs. Etsy at this time.

Do you have any advice for other young women with aspirations to start their own business?

One of the top things I like to tell people who are starting a business or already have one is networking is the best thing you can do. Make those connections to businesses and people who may know just one thing that eventually could be helpful in the future. Even if you don't think it is useful, you never know what you might fall into in the future, and that one person comes to mind that would be helpful. Keep those connections! You can never know too many people; my dad has definitely taught me that by example.

What are some of the biggest struggles to starting your own small business?

The biggest struggle is growth. This is a good problem to have, but I am growing way faster then I can keep up with when it comes to being able to afford and get inventory in. I am continually just recycling my money back into the business to get a little more inventory with each launch to try to keep on top of demand. There is a fine line between growing too quickly and crashing and keeping a steady pace, and sometimes I am just not sure what I am doing, ha.

When you started, you did it all. What are your plans for growth and hiring employees?

In the past four months I have hired on four employees to help me keep up with the daily tasks of running a business and we are still struggling to keep up! It’s so much fun to have a team who I can bounce ideas off of and balance out the work that just four months ago I was doing all myself!

If you're out of a size or color, how can customers know when you'll restock? Do you have a time frame for your next batch?

Instagram is the best way to stay up to date with my restock information. We also have a VIP email list you can join through our website and get early access to sales and launches. We promise not to spam you! In the warmer months you can expects launches every four to six weeks, so if you fall in love with something you have to snatch it up quick, or it's gone!

Where do you hope to take the company in the next five years?

I hope in the next five years to have a business that I not only still love to run but that makes people feel good about themselves. Swimsuits are such a hard thing to feel good in, especially for women, and I want them to feel comfortable and confident when they put my suits on. I want women who never dare to swim with others to show up to the local swim hole beaming because they know they look gooooooooood! I hope to inspire others in the future to go for the gusto and reach for their dreams, because I believe if you want it enough, anyone can make it reality!

Check out Kortni Jeane for more cute suits!