Before starting Bondi Born, Dale McCarthy seemed to have it all – a successful career, a loving family and a beautiful home in one of Sydney’s most iconic beach suburbs. But she wasn’t satisfied.
“I wanted to do something creative, to start something from scratch and build a really beautiful brand.
I didn’t want to be in an armchair one day telling my grandchildren that I had this idea, but wasn’t brave enough to give it a go.”
Bondi Born started in 2014 in the sun room of Dale’s light flooded Bondi home. With garments made in Australia by local designers and manufacturers, it truly epitomizes the concept of a luxury Australian brand, created by Australians for stylish women all over the world.
Making in Australia and using premium fabrics does add cost to the product, so our bikini sets and one pieces cost between $200 and $300.
“If you look at the swimwear market, it was obvious to me that there was a gap in the market for discerning women who seek superior quality, fit and longevity from their pieces. So we developed a unique high-Lycra fabric in Italy that sculpts and smooths women’s bodies and is technically advanced in its properties – quick drying, matt finish, chlorine resistant, long lasting. Women fall in love with our pieces as they feel so comfortable and confident in them and they become their “best friends” on holiday.
“When we create a collection, we make up to 12 stories and each had its own unique creative concept, print and shapes. We start the design process from scratch each season, but the consistency comes with our premium quality and innovative, luxury fabrics that make every woman feel at her best.”
While most startups launch locally first, Dale’s strategy was always for the brand to be ‘born global’, releasing the first Bondi Born collection in Europe in 2015.
“We had 1000 units shipped to a warehouse in the UK, then got on the phones to some top e-commerce sites, and said “We’ve got this new brand, would you like to trial it? We sold out in six weeks.” This first test season brought in $500,000 in sales and then a stroke of luck.
“We were taken on by a fashion agent with 30 years’ experience, she knew everyone and her success was instant.” Bondi born was soon listed in some of the world’s most prestigious stores, including Harrods, Selfridges in the UK, KADEWE in Germany, the Four Seasons in Hawaii, and boutiques in the Caribbean.
Since then we have been introducing the brand to other countries including the USA and Canada, before launching in Australia in 2017. Furthermore, careful management of foreign exchange has enabled Dale to easily manage paying international distributors and suppliers.
“The currency side of things was challenging, I receive and pay money in multiple currencies. I faced fluctuations in exchange rates that I hadn’t anticipated. To secure the best rates, and get some help with risk reduction, I teamed up with foreign currency provider OFX (formerly OzForex).”
Interestingly, OFX were founded on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, by two banking entrepreneurs who shared a mutual love of surfing.
Keen to offer consumers a fairer deal on foreign exchange, the company grew from local roots to support clients all over the world, helping them move money quickly and easily. Today, OFX is an ASX listed fintech success story, helping clients like Dale grow their businesses by expanding abroad or trading with international contacts.
Reflecting on the great strides made by her brand, Dale attributes success to her small but hard working team.
“Being on board during the early years of a start-up gives everyone the chance to work cross functionally, and learn rapidly. Because we’re a global brand means there’s not much down time – we’re constantly hopping from the Northern hemisphere summer to the Southern summer, it’s incredibly busy, but it’s a good problem to have.”