Swimwear Business Suits San Clemente 17-year-old

By Fred Swegles
The Orange County Register

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) School may be out for summer, but this is no time for 17-year old Hannah Reed to relax. The young entrepreneur has her own line of bathing suits which she sews and organizes from her family’s Orange County home. Way to go Hannah! Hope you have an amazing season of success.

Orange County

This summer, if you see girls on Orange County beaches wearing Hannah Reed Swimwear, they likely are savvy shoppers who were looking for a wide choice of prints and maybe a custom design at an attractive price.

What you may not realize is that the suits were made by a 17-year-old San Clemente High School student who started her company when she was a freshman.

Reed, about to enter her senior year at San Clemente High, is president of the school’s Entrepreneurs Club. She has taken over part of her family’s home, sewing and organizing suits — many of them custom, many of them reversible. Her customers are mostly from California, ranging in age from 14 to 40 years old but mostly late teens to early 20s.

She has scored an internship with O’Neill, one of the surfwear industry’s giants.

We asked her how all this is going.

Q. What’s your schedule, now that school is out?

A. I thought I would have more free time but I’m actually busier than before. I had a trunk sale June 5 and sold over 50 pieces and took orders for a couple dozen more custom pieces. So I’ve been ordering more fabric and sewing nonstop. I have spent a couple of days at the beach. I feel really proud to see girls wearing my suits. I’m planning on having another sale July 2, just in time for the 4th of July, so my mission is to stock up on red/white/blue swimsuits.

Q. Is this a first, for the 4th?

A. Last year everyone was texting me a few days before, and I couldn’t make them fast enough, This year I want to have plenty of pieces in stock. I’m getting online orders every day from all over the country.

Q. What led a 9th-grader to start a swimwear company?

A. I got frustrated when searching to purchase a bikini because they were too expensive. I thought this was a small amount of fabric for a very large price, so why not try and make them myself? I needed a job … so this was perfect.

Q. How did you learn?

A. I researched on the internet everything that was needed to make a bathing suit, like fabric, stitching and stretch quality. I asked my mom to take me to the garment district in L.A. I wanted to see and feel the fabric. My mom taught me how to sew. I searched specific questions on YouTube.

Q. How old were you when they began selling?

A. It only took about a month after the idea came into my head before I was sewing swimsuits. The spring of my freshman year — I was 15 years old — I had enough inventory to have a sale out of my garage.

Q. How many have you sold?

A. My freshman year, I sold about 50 pieces, and double that my sophomore year. This year I am on my way to triple that, since I have my website up.

Q. What do you charge?

A. Between $35 and $45 for bottoms and $45 to $55 for the tops. The tops are higher because they are more difficult to sew and require a lot more time. I recently started making one pieces, and those use up a lot of fabric and also require more time, so those are about $75 to $85. I have sold over 250 pieces.

Q. Why buy a Hannah Reed swimsuit? What’s cool?

A. The beauty of my company and website is that you can choose the style of suit, color or print, string color, and lining to suit your preference. Some of them are reversible so it’s like getting two suits for the price of one. I also accept special requests.

Q. How does that work?

A. If someone requests a certain design but wants more or less coverage, I can do that. I’ve even had people send me photos of a suit they liked and I made it for them in one of the prints I offer on my website. Sometimes you see a bikini you like, but the colors don’t appeal to you.

Q. What’s your routine during school?

A. I finish all of my schoolwork right after school and then dedicate about three to four hours to my business, except on Wednesdays when I’m at O’Neill. I cut and sew all of the patterns I have orders for. Then I work on either taking photos or adding photos of what I just sewed. I also spend some time on inventory, whether it’s ordering fabric, hangers, liners, tags or business cards. I created my own website on so I have control over everything.

Q. Was that hard?

A. As president of the Entrepreneurs Club at SCHS, I had to create a website about the club, so that’s where I learned to create one. Having a store online is way more difficult. But if I want to add a new fabric or delete an old one, it’s easy. Posting new photos is easy too. It’s all just time-consuming. I try to balance my time and set aside time for fun because I believe you need a good balance in life.

Q. How did you score an internship at O’Neill?

A. My father has a friend who works there, and I was set up with an interview.
I brought my “look book” with photos and several of my pieces, so they could see my work. They were very impressed that I have come this far at age 17.

Q. What have you learned?

A. I sat in a design meeting where they went over their upcoming fall line and summer line of 2017. It was a collaborative creative process and amazing to learn all of the little things that go into designing a line.

Q. Where would you like to take all of this?

A. I’d like to design my own fabric using (computer assisted design) because I have a lot of great ideas. I will continue growing my business through my senior year and after I graduate college, I would love to turn my swimwear line into a multifaceted clothing company.

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