Stories and Articles
Swimwear Company Makes a Splash in the Industry
SDSU finance alumni find their design in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue
Weston, Vermont (pop. 300) seems like an unlikely point of origin for a successful swimwear designer/entrepreneur, but it is the hometown of Meghan Keiter (’09, finance), co-owner of Water Glamour. Her company had one of their designs featured in the 2015 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue which was released in February, 2015.
Keiter owns the company with fiancé, Tom Standish (’09, finance) whom she met in a finance class at SDSU. Keiter is the company’s fashion chief designer and Standish handles the business operations and the marketing functions.
Foundation for Success Laid at SDSU
Keiter’s family left Vermont for San Diego right before her senior year of high school. After she arrived in San Diego, she applied only to one university: San Diego State. “I chose SDSU because the cost of tuition is very reasonably priced for the quality of education offered and the business program is highly regarded in the community,” she said. “Plus, the campus is clean and beautiful and the city of San Diego had great employment prospects.”
"I chose SDSU because the cost of tuition is very reasonably priced for the quality of education offered and the business program is highly regarded in the community."
Though there are many reasons for the company’s success, Keiter is quick to credit her education at SDSU for helping her to build he entrepreneurial achievements. Many of her professors gave great advice and offered valuable insight, but the course she found inspiring was the small business consulting class (BA 404) taught by Don Sciglimpaglia. This class put students in real-world consulting positions to small business owners in National City, Calif. which gave Keiter insight into the world of small entrepreneurs. “I saw how entrepreneurs had an impact on the world and the control they had over their lives,” she said. “I saw entrepreneurship as a means to creating my own destiny.”
Started Business in a Garage
Shortly after their graduation, Keiter and Standish moved to his hometown of Folsom, Calif., where they started their online retail business, Water Glamour, in his parents’ garage. Keiter said she chose to embark on the swimwear industry because “I’ve always led an active and adventurous lifestyle and combining this with an interest in fashion made a swimwear business a natural fit.”
"I saw entrepreneurship as a means to creating my own destiny."
Unique Design Gives Customer Options
Water Glamour offered a unique product that only a few swimwear companies offer: a reversible bikini. “One of our core philosophies is creating as much value for the customer as possible,” explained Keiter. “We can do this by offering reversible swimwear that allows customers to have several different looks from one bikini and creates a very unique garment.”
The complex designs were initially created, cut and sewn by Keiter and Standish, but as the business grew, the pair realized that they could no longer handle all the manufacturing operations on their own. In 2013, they moved the business to Los Angeles to be closer to the city’s garment district which allowed them to establish solid relationships with textile mills, cutting houses and sewing contractors.
Sports Illustrated Opportunity
A year later, in 2014, the pair had a chance encounter that changed their lives and put their business into the stratosphere. During a trade show in Miami, they met a representative from Sports Illustrated (SI) who invited them to send some of designs to the staff of the magazine’s famous swimsuit issue.
Getting a design and company name in the SI swimsuit issue is a major coup for those in the swimwear industry and the couple was intent on embracing the opportunity. But due to the overwhelming number of orders they had gotten during the tradeshow and their booming online business, they were able to get only one sample to the magazine.
Then they waited for months. “Sports Illustrated gets thousands of swimsuit samples sent to them each year for that issue,” said Keiter. “It was exciting to scan the SIwebsite to see if our suit made the cut. We literally didn’t know that our sample was selected until the day the magazine was released.”
Since their SI debut, much has changed for Water Glamour. Their swimwear is now featured in 80 retail stores, with Urban Outfitters and Revolveclothing.com being the most recent companies to pick up the product line. They have also moved their headquarters to Folsom in order for both Keiter and Standish to be near their families and to be in a more affordable environment. “We are lucky to have such great suppliers and vendors and we felt confident that we could move six hours away and still have all our systems in place,” said Keiter.
And while the future looks bright for the company, Keiter says that as a first-time entrepreneur, there was no way of avoiding mistakes made along the way. “The key is to learn from each mistake and not lose your spirit,” she advised. “Each mistake allowed us to grow, learn and build a stronger business.”