What it’s like to be an International Swimwear Designer with Natalia Vargas
Natalia Vargas is the creative and innovative mind behind the brand Doppia Swimwear. She has been running the company for a short time with a big picture of how the brand is going to grow. Natalia was born in Colombia with Latin blood and passion for her country. She wants to share the story of Colombia, its rich culture, diversity, colors, people, and values through the Doppia brand. www.doppiaswimwear.com
Can you tell our readers about your background?
I studied and worked in finance at the beginning of my career. However, I have always loved to draw, design, and create, so I quit my job four years ago to start this new adventure.
I also studied for a Master’s Degree in International Business in Spain and have a certificate in Brand Management from The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
What inspired you to start your business?
I wanted to connect with people and to create a brand that represents and celebrates the different shapes of women. My own experience was also part of the inspiration because I am curvy — my hips and legs are thick and it was very hard for me to find bathing suits that didn’t leave me marks but were also pretty, fancy, and trendy.
Where is your business based?
My business is based in Bogotá, Colombia.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
The way I started is not usual because the brand already existed. I joined the company four years ago. I was a customer and what I loved the most was the concept; Doppia means “double” in Italian so reversibility is the main characteristic of the design.
I kept the essence of the brand (reversible swimwear) but made improvements in terms of design, inspiration, and communication. I asked our customer what they wanted and how they felt about the brand. Once I had gathered that relevant data, I used inspiration from Colombia, its people, and traditions to create bold and fun designs.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Word-of-mouth is definitely the way I started to build brand awareness. Between my friends, family, and every place and event that I go, I talk about the brand and its concept and people get really excited and start following it. Social media has also been an effective way to build brand awareness.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenges have been related to production and design. I have all the ideas about what I want and how I want the products to be, but as I am not a trained designer, there are many things related to both processes where I don’t have enough expertise. So the way I overcome them is by working closely with my design team and the garment factory.
How do you stay focused?
Oh boy, this is a hard one! When you have your own business many opportunities emerge. Yet I stay focused by tackling one goal at a time. Sometimes you just have to say “not now, but later” when different opportunities emerge.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
I think the way my brand is different from my competition is how we communicate with our customers. We have close relationships with them and provide as much information as we can. For example, our hang tags are designed specially to let the customer know which garments are reversible.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Since a few collections ago, I decided to switch the image and prototype of my Doppia woman by shooting campaign photos with my customers. This strategy resulted in more engagement with my market because women identify with the girl they see in the photos. This approach also helped to grow the brand’s sales and awareness in social media.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
My advice is to keep working, love what you do, and be patient. Sometimes being an entrepreneur is hard and everything can get overwhelming, but don’t quit. Just keep working and keep the goal in your mind. Patience you will get where you want!
What’s your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
My favorite app is Instagram; I use it for editing pictures, making short videos, benchmarking, as a communication channel with my customers, for inspiration, to find stores, potential customers, shopping and sale events and many other different things.
My favorite blog is Foundr because there are many interesting articles related to business, new entrepreneurs, marketing, and strategies that are very useful.
My favorite book is “The One Thing” because it tells the importance of keep focused!
What’s your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
I like Shopify because of the valuable data it provides, including what visitors see, what products they like, as well as what are the most viewed and added to the cart products. The platform also provides information about promotions, ads, and marketing strategies to reach wider audiences.
Who is your business role model? Why?
A couple of years ago, I met a wonderful Colombian designer based in New York City named Raul Peñaranda. He became an inspiration for me and my business role model. I had the opportunity to find out about his work and history, how he began to work in the industry and started his brand with all the struggles and this really inspired me! And last year, I worked with him at an event in Bogotá, Colombia where he presented his collection and it was an amazing experience!
What do you have planned for the next six months?
My plans for the next six months are exploring new markets — one is the U.S. This collection will be inspired by our indigenous southern tribes and their creations, and we’ll let women and men know about our unique Colombian pieces and share a bit of our country.
How can our readers connect with you?
They can reach out to me or to the brand through social media, in Instagram as @doppiaswimwear, Facebook as Doppia Swimwear or our web page www.doppiaswimwear.com. I would love to get in touch and introduce them to my brand experience!