If you’re a beach-loving, bikini-wearing babe who lives and breathes on Instagram, you’ve most likely come across Blackbough Swim on your feed. Whether it’s a simple tag on a sultry summer post by an influencer or the algorithm just wants you to shop for a new ‘kini, it’s impossible to miss this cool Insta-famous swimwear brand. But did you know that it’s a brand founded by a Filipina?
A quick scroll through their account would easily make you think it’s an international label—think Forever21 or TRIANGL Swimwear. But once you shop on the site and check out their models and designs, there’s no denying that there’s a lot of Filipino flavor and inspiration woven into the brand’s DNA. The "+63" in their contact details is a dead giveaway. "No ruffles or feathers, our brand is proudly Filipino because we are Filipino, and it was developed in the Philippines," Blackbough founder Jemina Ty tells Preview.
But other than their quirky-turned-sexy design aesthetic, what really makes Blackbough stand out on the ‘gram is its tight-knit cult-like community that comes with their massive following. We’re not only taking about a loyal clientele with regular purchases, but one that raves about their designs online. The brand's community is 741,000 strong on Instagram as of writing, with a minimum of 100 to 500 comments per post when they drop a new design or collection. That's not an easy feat for a user under the one million mark on the platform.
In fact, the digital word-of-mouth is so strong that it has made Kendall Jenner and even Vanessa Hudgens buy into the BB bikini craze. Kendall's artsy bikini pic on IG stories had the style selling out almost instantly and made many look up the brand—talk about influencer power!
So how did a this five-year-old label gain such international clout in such a small amount of time, and during a pandemic no less?
In an exclusive interview with Preview, Blackbough Swim founder Jemina Ty talks about the brand’s humble beginnings, what drove her to create a community and not just a label, and how Instagram is the key of winning over a generation of bikini wearers.
Hi Jemina! To start off, can you tell us what inspired you to create Blackbough Swim?
"I started Blackboughswim in 2017 when I was looking for bikinis to take to the beach and the ones available in the market were either too expensive, or affordable but low quality. Curating the clothing I wear has always been second nature to me, so designing and creating my own bikinis was such a joy. I sold small batches of my own bikini designs to reach the minimum order and keep one for myself and slowly, from friends to strangers near me, the orders kept coming. It’s been a couple years since then and I’m really happy to have grown with Blackbough Swim to bring the cutest bikinis to tens of thousands of women worldwide!"
How's the design process like for the brand? Where do you get inspiration?
"I make sure all the pieces I create are fun, flattering, affordable and versatile, in that they can be worn and styled in different ways. One of my biggest priorities is ensuring my customers have an easy time shopping for swims online—something that can often be challenging—which is why I focus greatly on making every piece wearable and functional for every type of body."
Who is the Blackbough Swim girl?
"The Blackbough Swim girl is any girl who feels capable and confident in our swimwear. We design our suits for all women, and try to be as inclusive with styles and sizing as possible! One factor that will forever remain constant is how fun, unique, and classic all our designs are. In Blackbough, women should feel comfortable enough to lounge by the pool and secure enough to swim in the ocean."
How did you build such an engaged following on social media?
"We are strong on social media because we understand how essential it is to communicate, interact and grow with our customers and we love maintaining close and personal relationships with our girls. Aside from designing our swim, apparel, and accessories, I am very hands-on with my social media, marketing, design, and customer service teams. Our teams make sure to constantly reach out to celebrities and influencers, create genuine content, ask our community questions, and respond to every single DM—whether it’s from a high-profile celebrity looking for a new bikini, or one of our beloved customers inquiring about the sizing of our suits."
Any tips and tricks to building a brand with a strong social media presence?
"We make sure that all of our content resonates with our audience and embodies the fun, beachy, and bright lifestyle of a Blackbough Swim girl! Our feed is fun and bright, and we make sure to feature as many Blackbough swim girls as we can, we absolutely love them and their content!"
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