We chat to Kitty Scott Founder of Cleonie Swim on her slow and steady approach to building her beautiful Coastal brand and what it takes to keep it moving…
Can you take us through the start-up of Cleonie, how long ago did this brand come to life and what did your early days look like?
CLEONIE Swim started 8 years ago, looking back I was so young and naive; thought it would just kick off and be an overnight success.. but sadly that was not our story. I remember having as little as $100 in the bank at one point and had to find true desire and belief that this was my focus and that I could make it work.. From there, I have bootstrapped the brand and built it up slowly and have seen a steady progression and growth year after year to the point now where I can say we are on our way to being successful.. But there is still always a new beautiful challenge ahead and a new dream to find- but taking it step by step is how I have been able to keep level and move with the growth.
Taking it step by step is how I have been able to keep level and move with the growth.
What has been the biggest success in your brand journey to date?
When I see Cleonie kinis at the beach, that makes my heart so full. It is a privilege that these gorgeous ladies are wanting to share Cleonie cosies in their memories for the summer and feeling confident in their skin wearing it. Do you have a key ‘game changer’ brand moment that you can tell us about?
Seeing the brand being sold internationally in some major retailers like Selfridges in the UK, Intermix, Free People, Revolve and Bloomingdales in the US and now David Jones here in Australia. It is a constant pinch me feeling when I think about it.
Sustainability is a strong pillar of your brand, why is it so important to you, and how do you keep it central to your design process? It is the core of our ethos, we make all of our decisions based on ethical and sustainable practices... From fabric selection, packaging, to only manufacturing in Australia and only making when we receive an order... these are all facets of our business.
Cleonie has hit the ground running in the International Market this last 12 months, what has been pivotal to this success and what steps did you take in order to launch internationally?
We wanted to expand from a seasonal business to a year round one... In the early years of the Cleonie the focus was only Australia/NZ... I think I was just so young and short sighted as to what could be achieved. After spending some time working through my dreams of the brand it was clear that expanding into the international market was the best way forward... having the progress and great reception in the Northern Hemisphere has allowed us to scale and grow to offer products all through the year. It has been a game changer for us as a brand and I am so humbled by it all.
Having the progress and great reception in the Northern Hemisphere has allowed us to scale and grow to offer products all through the year.
What is your design process – how do you source ideas?
When the time comes to design it is such a wholesome part of the process- I will sit, quietly and still and let some ideas flow... Sometimes this can take days for my mind to shift from business/production focus to the freedoms of design... But once I find that groove and sweet spot I just let the ideas flow... I will illustrate, create mood boards and scrap books, match colours, and look for ideas in everything from nature to architecture, shapes, street styles and classic vintage styles too. Once I have the colour palette and mood of the collection I create the styles- and then I cut and sample them to see if they functionally work as an idea and a product. If they are a success we run them in the range for that season!
What does your staff comprise of now, how do you operate Cleonie daily? We have three full time employees and we have gorgeous freelance staff who help run parts of the brand too.
What is your current creative inspiration, how do you keep motivated? There is always something that can be done and there is always a new goal that needs to be achieved. I just remind myself that small considered steps forward is the best way for achieving... Creatively I am just adoring the beauty of nature... the colours are constantly making my soul sing!
What is in-store for Cleonie in 2022?
We hope to launch more apparel and more printed swim options in 2022. and continue to work with creatives to develop new prints and collections for the year, to continue to push the boundaries of eco creations and to remember to celebrate the small wins along the way.