Edna Swart, co-founder and designer of ed&i. Image supplied.
The past few months have been an intense time to be in business and figuring out how to adapt has seen some businesses get innovative like ed&i swimwear who launch an equity campaign on PledgeMe today. Co-founder Edna Swart is now a familiar face to many Kiwis after the success of her television show BossBabes with fellow entrepreneur Iyia Liu (which recently launched it’s second season on TVNZ OnDemand). It has definitely helped raise the profile of Edna’s successful swimwear and beauty brand which has developed a cult following here in New Zealand.
Back in March ed&i swimwear launched a stunning new swimwear range called Ingulule inspired by Edna’s South African upbringing and made from sustainable materials which was well received. The brand also launched a new self-tan product called PART TIME tan last month which has had rave reviews to date. Edna’s eye for style, business smarts and the genuine way she interacts with the brand’s followers on social media have turned ed&i swimwear into a brand to watch and now those who love the brand can invest in it too. This equity campaign model of fundraising has proven to be a popular and successful one for many different businesses and ed&i swimwear are offering up to 15.3% of their company in this equity raise.
We caught up with Edna to find out more about the investment campaign for ed&i, what she learned from the lockdown and what her plans are for her business?
How did the idea for the investment campaign come about and why did you decide to do it now?
Since the launch of ed&i body in July last year, we have successfully grown the business month on month, however, at the same time we have also invested large amounts into raw materials to bring down our production costs for future product runs. The business is going through a transition that requires a capital injection for it to reach new heights. We have looked at various options of investment over the past few months, but we believe crowd funding is the right move for ed&i. I have been blessed to have generated such an amazing support system and community through Boss Babes. I have created an open channel of communication and as a result my customers and followers feel they have been part of ed&i from the start so why not given them the option to truly be part of the business.
Since you announced the campaign on your social media what has the response been like?
I originally reached out through my social media to gain insight and gauge the appetite for potential crowd funding. The response was overwhelmingly positive. It made the decision to create a crowd funding campaign much easier. It is not easy opening up about myself and especially the business for everyone to see, but I believe we have the right support behind us.
The popular ed&i body products which launched last year.
If the campaign is successful what will the investment be used for?
In the investment memorandum released to potential investors, we cover high level distribution of the funding. Depending on what we raise will determine also where the funds will be allocated. A lot of the investment will go into new product development, production, marketing and hiring our very first full-time employee. We take the responsibility of this investment extremely seriously, and our mission to grow the business so that our investors will feel proud of the business and their return.
As a business owner what has the last couple of months been like for you and have you changed your business to deal with the current global situation?
It has been a very interesting couple of months. We felt the effects of Covid-19 before New Zealand had their first case. Our production of raw materials came to a halt in China back in January which caused a big delay with our new self-tan. Going into lock down I had a moment of fear and uncertainty with how the business could be impacted. We had no idea what was going to happen with our production or our sales. Lockdown gave me the ability to spend quality time on ed&i, as most of the time I am stuck in the operations of the business rather than the creative side of engaging with my customers. I took lockdown as a positive for me to reset and work on a new journey for ed&i going forward.
The second season of BossBabes aired recently on TVNZ on Demand, what was it like seeing yourself and your business head into the lockdown having now come out the other side of it?
I watched the last episode and still felt the realness. We still don’t know what the environment will give us over the next 12 months, and given the prediction of a delayed recession, we have a lot of work to do to make sure we continue to build on our sustainable business model.
What did you learn from the lockdown both as a person and as a business owner?
I spent every day working on ed&i, so my learnings have been predominately on the business. I realised I had been spending more time in the business rather than on the business. Coming out of lockdown I made it a priority to stay creating, talking, and engaging with my customers. I value the feedback from my customer so much!
You recently launched a new tanning product that was featured on the show, what has the response been like to it so far?
I could not be prouder of our PART TIME tan. We rescheduled our launch after our production delay from china, only to be delayed again with lockdown. So, we decided to open pre-orders through the lock down period. The response has been amazing! Creating an all-natural, vegan self-tan mousse to compete with some very big players in the market, and to receive comments such as “never using anything else again” has made the delay all worth it!
What’s next for ed&i and where do you see your business in 5 years time?
We have some big ambitions for the business and some very exciting new products in development which will come to market with this investment. Its hard to give exacts 5 years from now, but we plan to build the business to a point of sale within this time frame.
Campaign image from ed&i swimwear’s current Ingulule collection.