HCUO’s “Who Runs the World?” series aims to highlight the stories of female founders running small businesses while completing their studies.
As the weather continues to get warmer and warmer, we’re surely not the only ones eager to break out our favourite swimsuits – after all, tanning and swimming season is (almost) officially upon us! However, finding the perfect swimsuit can be a struggle: it feels nearly impossible to find a reasonably priced, cute, comfortable bikini with the right amount of coverage, and there’s nothing more important than feeling comfortable and confident in your swimsuit! Thankfully, Bridget McCluckie realized that this is a common issue too, so she founded Bridget – an inclusive, sustainable, and customizable swimwear brand – and truly solved all our swimwear problems!
Bridget, driven by the sense of rejection she felt growing up and inspired by her Mexican heritage, founded Bridget (formerly, Bikinis by Bridget) in 2018. She always had a strong passion for creating things and knew that one day, she’d end up being her own boss. When she quit her part-time job and used her last paycheque to buy swimwear fabric, Bridget started making custom bikinis; after about six weeks of completing custom orders and after lots of research and trial and error, she was able to employ workers – who had lost their jobs due to an earthquake in 2017 – in Mexico City to make her swimwear in an ethical, small-batch production line. Here in Canada, she runs Hermanas – a beach store in Apsley – with her sister (hence the name, which means ‘sisters’ in Spanish). If you’re looking for an opportunity to see Bridget’s products in person, be sure to check it out!
HC: What does a typical day look like for you?
Bridget: “I’m a full-time Communications student (with the Entrepreneurship option) at Laurier University, so on a typical day, I like to prioritize my schoolwork; as important as my business is, I want to be a successful student as well as run a successful company. I’m very organized and every day I write down what I need to get done that day; as soon as I finish my schoolwork, I try to catch up on emails or other things that relate to my business. I’m very fortunate that my business’ prime time is in the summer, because that’s when a lot of the business-related work gets done. Throughout the rest of the year, I work on keeping up with behind-the-scenes things like picking out styles, colours, and fabrics for new designs; the business-related responsibilities are not nearly as demanding as during the summer.”
HC: What is your favourite part of running a business?
Bridget: “Honestly, I think creating something that’s my own and knowing that my customers are happy with the products is the best part – nothing makes me happier. Seeing people’s reactions to my products and knowing how much work I’ve put in to get where I am now is really satisfying. To me, my business isn’t just about the brand and product sales, it’s about having relationships with customers and making them feel amazing about themselves. I’ve had girls talk to me about how tough it is to find bikinis that fit them properly and make them feel good, so knowing that I can help them create a bikini that’s perfect for them makes me super happy.”
HC: What is the biggest (business or school-related) challenge you’ve encountered since starting your business?
Bridget: “The biggest challenge so far is definitely time management: even though I’m organized, things can sometimes get overwhelming, and everything can feel like a lot at once. I feel like a lot of people in university just have to focus on their schoolwork – which is super important – but having a business on top of that is challenging at times. However, as my business grows, I’ve figured out better ways to manage it so that I don’t feel quite as overwhelmed. Another problem is that I sometimes forget to give myself breaks – I often put my schoolwork and my business first, but I’m not as good at finding time to prioritize my own wellbeing.”
HC: What shipping options are available for those who may be interested in buying your products?
Bridget: “I sell most of my products through my website, but I occasionally sell via DMs because some girls like being able to ask me questions and/or get recommendations. I ship all across Canada, which is such a cool feeling! I do local pickups as well (I alternate between Waterloo and Burlington), and in the summer, customers can pick up at our store. For shipping though, it’s $10 in Ontario and $15 outside of Ontario. However, you’ll always have free shipping when you order a custom bikini!”
HC: What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Bridget: “You just have to start somewhere. An idea can stay an idea, but you need to start it. It doesn’t matter if it’s good, because you’ll learn from experience for sure. For instance, I’ve taught myself so much more running a business myself than when I was taking business courses in school. I was originally in business management before switching programs, and what I was learning in those business courses is basically how to be an employee; I knew that wasn’t what I wanted. You’ll understand things so much more by doing them. You also need to believe in yourself: if you’re confident in what you do and who you are as a person, you’ll get far in life, you’ll make things happen. You just have to be the person that’s able to commit to their goals.”
Ready to get a bathing suit that’ll make you feel AND look incredible? Head over to @bikinisbybridget on Instagram or check out Bridget’s website here to browse their available styles! (Hint: we’re sure you’ll LOVE their new sunset collection!)
Note: responses have been formatted for the purposes of this story.