Meagan Scott wants to change the world one bikini at a time.
In just over a year, the Oxnard-based entrepreneur and founder of Boys + Arrows has launched a business that’s competing with some of the hottest brands in designer swimwear.
The idea to launch a bikini business came to her – where else? – as she was vacationing in Brazil.
“I was inspired by my traveling but even more so by my childhood. Hanging out by the backyard pool, the barbecues, the camping trips — it seemed like all of these great memories happened in swimwear,” she said. “I knew this was something that I would enjoy and could be happy about.”
The California native said she felt that much of the designer swimwear on the market was borderline gaudy. “Everything was so over the top with hardware and jewels and shiny stuff and lace,” Scott said. “I just wanted to create an all-American brand that represented the all-American girl: The adventure seeker, the jetsetter, the girl who doesn’t need much more in her suitcase than a bathing suit.”
With that, she launched the company in March 2011. She would have been happy initially making 300 sets a year, she said, but was pleasantly surprised when the company got orders for 1,600 bikinis its first year. Boys + Arrows is on track to do 6,000 this year.
Boys + Arrows’ bikinis are sold in brick-and-mortar stores and resorts throughout Southern California and in dozens of online boutiques. “Specialty boutiques is where we shine,” Scott said.
The suits have simple, clean designs and an edgy, bohemian feel. They retail for between $160 and $200 per set.
How it started
On a trip to Brazil, Scott took a break to contemplate what she really wanted to do with her career. She was enrolled in nursing school at the time, but was realizing that wasn’t her calling. When she returned from her trip, she ditched class and jumped into designing swimwear.
Although she knew what she wanted in terms of designs and branding, Scott needed an extra nudge on the business front. “I was trying to figure out how to do the rest of it. Would I hand-sew and sell on my own website? I eventually figured out that I wanted to be a wholesaler.”
She enrolled in an intensive business plan course through Women’s Economic Ventures, a nonprofit in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties that offers education and financing to startup businesses.
Leah Gonzales, a program manager with WEV, said Boys + Arrows has been one of the organization’s most successful recent graduates. “I remember seeing Meagan come in right around the time she started the [business plan course], and she had a sample bikini and she was so excited,” Gonzales said. “She’s really done well with the business.”
WEV provides both education and financing to promising businesses.
Scott said that after the six-week course and with several designs in hand, she contacted contract manufacturers to sew the swimear. Like many young designers just starting out, she found that breaking in to the industry was tough.
For one, the manufacturing volume she needed to get started was initially so low, many manufacturers didn’t take her seriously when she put in orders for a half-dozen bikinis.
“I had to go to my cutter, the factories, and kind of beg for them to work with me,” she said. Scott persisted, telling them that once she got momentum, she’d be able to place larger orders.
Boys + Arrows now has two factories in Los Angeles working for it. The company is headquartered at Scott’s home in Oxnard. She enticed her sister, Samantha Scott, to join the business as its chief financial officer and has plans to hire her first outside employee, a production manager, this year.
Jumping into a designer bikini business in the midst of a struggling economy wasn’t a sure bet, and Scott said maintaining working capital has been her biggest challenge. But she said The Bank of Santa Barbara stepped up and took a chance on her. “They were a godsend,” she said. “We hope to grow with them forever and to let them continue to grow with me.”
Boys + Arrows is looking across international waters to make its next splash, and hopes to launch into Australia, the Caribbean and South America within the next year.