Rebecca Klodinsky does not shy away from a challenge. From launching Frankii Swim at the age of 24 while working in retail full-time and studying a double degree in forensic psychology to dealing with a rebrand during a pandemic, the entrepreneur has tackled some tough tasks head-on – all while navigating single motherhood.
"My professional career started the day I pooled together my savings of A$2,000 and invested it into creating a line of bikinis that were built on quality at great prices," Rebecca says. "Fast-track seven years and here I am."
Growing up on the Gold Coast in Australia, the young professional was inspired by the area’s beach culture. "However, it was logic as much as it was passion," she adds.
It all began when Rebecca recognised a gap in the women’s swimwear market.
"I was at home with my sister, watching as she tried on a swimsuit she had just picked up off lay-by after weeks of saving up," she reflects.
"That’s when it hit me. Surely my sister wasn’t alone; there must have been thousands of other girls who were faced with a hefty price tag when shopping for quality. And I was right."
The swimwear brand, known initially as Frankii Swim, was recently rebranded as IIXIIST – a decision that Rebecca explains was not an easy one, nor her choice."The swim industry is oversaturated with businesses that all sound the same," she says.
"Over the past five years, I had been in and out of lawyers’ offices, trying to do everything in my willpower to keep my beloved Frankii as she was.
"However, it got to the point where enough was enough; it was time to take the leap and change the brand name to something unique and bold that stood out on her own."
But before Rebecca could finish the rebranding process and spread the word, COVID-19 hit.
"It is quite bittersweet really, being overshadowed by a global pandemic," she notes.
"It’s only been in the past month or so that I commenced making some noise and announcing the rebrand, as, for the most part, it was the last thing on anybody’s mind."
"I was an early adopter in making the adjustments, which prepared me for when it really hit."
However, the announcement was extremely well received. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Hailey Bieber, Kris Jenner and Rihanna have all been spotted wearing IIXIIST.
"The celebrity customers are probably the biggest pinch-me moments," Rebecca says.
"The fact they’re all organic relationships as opposed to paid is a stamp of approval too, particularly in the Instagram age where the power of celebrity can slingshot your brand to stardom overnight, not to mention its effect on sales."
Moreover, the brand has also managed to survive and thrive due to it being a 100% ecommerce business, selling only via iixiist.com.
"I’ve been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to sit tight and ride it through, unlike the countless brands who have been forced to close their doors, which has been heartbreaking to see," Rebecca says.
She adds that she the strategic decision was made to use this lockdown as downtime, temporarily relieving the business of its many moving parts.
"Some employees are on annual leave, digital advertising campaigns cancelled and plans on hold," she explains. "I was an early adopter in making the adjustments, which prepared me for when it really hit.
"People don’t need to be sold to right now, people need people."
"No bricks-and-mortar doorways have worked to my advantage. While web sales somewhat slowed, the COVID-19 crisis remains manageable."
The pandemic has undoubtedly changed how fashion and ecommerce operate and communicate.
"Transparency is key, as is making ethical and sustainable choices over financial gain," Rebecca says. "Brands are being forced to be more welcoming and open to all; if the coronavirus taught me one thing, it’s that we’re all in this together."
Rebecca shares advice for other businesses experiencing tough times. First, she says, it’s essential to pause and reassess everything – outgoings, overhead costs, structure, processes, staffing, strategy.
"Simplify everything, be meticulous with financials," she suggests.
"Better yet, try not to spend. But, above all, be human, honest, thoughtful and transparent. People don’t need to be sold to right now, people need people."
In terms of what the future holds, Rebecca says she doesn’t see businesses reverting to their old ways.
"Social distancing and working remotely have forced us to turn to technology more than ever, which in turn has made me realise it’s easy to be in two places at once. The importance of work–life balance has definitely been a beacon of light."
Speaking about work–life balance, Rebecca adds that time has made her realise that ultimately, it’s all about family.
"Not a stress in the world can affect me when I’m curled up on the couch with my son. The world we live in now is frantic, demands are high, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon. At the end of the day, I’m just selling bikinis; ensuring my mental health is intact and I am grounded beats that tenfold."