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Shop Talk | 18-Year-Old Entrepreneur Launches Handmade Swimsuit Company

Interview by Rebecca Parsons

San Clemente High School senior Hannah Reed made her first swimsuit during her freshman year of high school. After a few tweaks, she officially launched her own swimwear company—Hannah Reed Swimwear—offering a variety of hand sewn styles and patterns at affordable prices. Reed even offers custom-made suits at no additional cost. Here, the eighteen-year-old shares some insight about starting her own business and what sets her suits apart from others on the market.

Tell us about your background.

I grew up practically living on the beach, given that my house was right across from T-Street in San Clemente. My dad taught me to surf at a young age and I started swimming competitively when I was seven. I participated in Junior Lifeguards for four years and served as Captain and then Lieutenant. I never had any fear of the ocean and I welcome any sport that allows me dive into it.


What inspired you to launch a swimwear company?

I love being creative and bringing my ideas to life. Girls like having many bikinis and no one wants to wear the same one every day. I found it hard to find the perfect swimwear that was both affordable and fit the way I liked. Most of the bikinis I liked were $200+ for the set and my mother wasn't going to buy those, so I decided to try and make them myself.

How did you learn how to make suits? 

I was in a College and Career class and started Googling how to make swimwear. I looked up everything I needed to know on the internet and came across several YouTube videos that gave me some ideas. I also read sewing manuals to figure out how to set the proper stitching and what type of needle to use. I took apart my old bikinis and made patterns using them as examples, and that's how I got my first set of patterns. Then I adjusted the patterns as I went along to get the proper fit and look that I wanted.


When did you make your first suit?

It was around February of my freshman year in high school. I wanted to have suits ready to wear for the spring and enough to sell on Instagram. My first suit ended up fitting way too small so I made a bigger pattern and tried it again and again. It took several tries, but I finally got it right.

What's unique about your suits?

My company is unique because it specializes in the suitability and specifications the buyer desires. No two bodies are the same and a small, medium, or large bathing suit does not always fit one person or another properly in all the right places. Sometimes I'll get special requests for a custom design. Each person gets exactly what they ask for and I don't charge extra for custom suits. I also make a lot of my suits reversible so you can have options of mixing and matching.

What’s your hope for the future of Hannah Reed Swimwear?

I hope to be manufacturing my swimsuits in a warehouse in the US and be featured in an upcoming swim collective. I eventually would like to branch out and design clothing as well. I'd like to spend my time designing more and sewing less, although I do find sewing very therapeutic. It's a great feeling to create a finished product that you know someone is going to enjoy wearing.

Learn more and shop at the Hannah Reed Swimwear website.

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