When 21-year-old Ashley Lemmon picked up #Girlboss for some light winter-break reading last year, she didn't expect it to motivate her to start her own swimwear line. But the self-sufficiency of author Sophia Amoruso inspired Lemmon to build a company out of a project that initially used almost entirely her own labour.
"I thought OK, I don't need to hire a massive team of people from the get-go to start a business," says Lemmon. "I can use what I've already learned and apply it to what I want to do."
With a marketing and business degree under her belt, Lemmon's Fredericton-based line Nora Swimwear has grown a large online following and is being sold in Fredericton, Saint John and now Halifax. Lemmon taught herself how to sew and to design her own samples, aiming to make flattering swimwear for as many different body types as possible. For each design, Lemmon asks her friends who say they feel insecure in swimwear how a design for their body type could make them feel more comfortable.
"I show them what I'm thinking and ask 'Would that make you feel better?'" says Lemmon. "'Would you feel good in this swimsuit? Would you feel good in this design?' And then I take it forward."
Lemmon only started the business eight months ago so the line doesn't have swimsuits for everyone yet. She hopes, as the company grows, she will be able to offer more variety. The brand has introduced sizes extra-large and extra-small, and made size charts specific to each design to help buyers make informed decisions.
As of last week, waterfront boutique Alexa Pope (1457 Lower Water Street) is now carrying Nora Swim's spring collection. Watch for the summer line as soon as it's released.