Local community is the special ingredient that turns your city and neighborhood into a home base. We’ve always prioritized celebrating local businesses in the cities we operate, and now more than ever with the recent developments of COVID-19, we want to recognize the individuals and businesses that cultivate community in the cities they are in.
This month, our series is taking us to the beautiful coast of California to highlight unique local businesses in Los Angeles and the brave entrepreneurs behind them. Keep reading for an insightful look at how a local swimwear brand is inspiring women to have confidence outside of a label.
Have you ever been more attached to the number inside of a pair of jeans than you’d like to admit? Our business highlight this week is a raw and real discussion with Lexi Donato, the Founder and CEO of LDLA, on how she started an inclusive swimwear brand focused on helping women find confidence outside of the size on the label.
Hi Lexi! To start off, can you tell us more about how you started LDLA?
I grew up feeling body-shame, not because of my physical size, but simply by the number imprinted on the little piece of fabric attached to my jeans, the tag.
While my friends were a size 0 or 2, I fluctuated between a 10 (L) and 12 (XL). Every time I’d walk into a fitting room, without hesitation, I hid the tag and on the rare occasion I purchased clothes, the first thing I’d do was cut off the tag and bury it at the very bottom of the trash, never to be discovered again. It was traumatizing because I assumed that the label L or XL defined me, my worth, and my beauty.
It took many years to overcome label-shame, but I did so by telling myself a different narrative: I was not defined by my size. This shift in my own internal dialogue sparked the idea for LDLA and our mission to flip size stigma on it’s head. LDLA features numberless sizing and uses goddess names to portray fit, a symbol that represents the wearer’s inherent beauty.
How does LDLA operate to help elevate women’s body confidence?
LDLA is the first swimwear brand with numberless sizing. We’ve flipped the size scale on it’s head and are revolutionizing the way women think about their size, bodies, and self-worth.
Traditionally, goddesses were the epitome of beauty, but they stood for much more. They were known for their wisdom, radiance, strength, confidence, kindness, compassion, and the list goes on. Our ethos is that each woman was created beautifully and can be empowered no matter her size, which is why we chose goddess names to represent fit.
We chose to launch LDLA into the swim space because it’s the most uncomfortable and anxiety-filled clothing sector. If LDLA can make a difference in the swim industry, we believe that we can make a difference in the apparel industry as a whole.
As you can tell, we are a very body-positive company, but our efforts to encourage confidence don’t just end at numberless sizing. With the philosophy that every woman is “wonderfully made” each swimsuit is imprinted with this special message so you never forget the truth of your beloved beauty.
Beyond “just a swimwear brand,” LDLA is an online space to come for a dose of confidence & inspiration, reminding women everywhere that they are wonderfully made and can fearlessly chase their dreams.
How have eco-friendly initiatives been incorporated into your business?
Safeguarding the environment and ethical practices are fundamental to us! At LDLA, we’re proud to offer swimwear made with regenerated nylon. Our sustainable techno-fiber provides UV protection, muscle control, shape retention and two-way stretch. Once you try it, we promise you won’t want to wear anything else.
In addition, we’ve hand-selected our manufacturer due to their conservation efforts and ethics. Our partnership with our manufacturer allows the customer to join us in conserving the Kalimantan rainforest in Indonesia, protecting 100 square meters for every 100 pieces of swimwear they provide to us. Every individual employed by our manufacturer is paid fair wages and is given health care for them and their families… no sweatshops here!
How can fashion brands shift to support confidence over insecurity?
We’re seeing that, little by little, brands are becoming more inclusive and representing all bodies across the board. However, brands often move towards inclusivity in their marketing campaigns, while clothing options and in-house operations tell a separate story.
I’d challenge brands to do away with “regular” and “plus” segregated size sections and list all sizes under one unified category. As confident as anyone is with their body, no one wants to go over to the plus section to shop, it feels targeted. Companies need to eat and breathe inclusivity and really think, “how can I empower and include women of all shapes and sizes?”
You are a women-founded and run business! Do you have any advice for other boss-lady founders?
My two biggest pieces of advice are to just do it and persevere! Building and running a business can be daunting, but it’s so rewarding to be able to create something you are proud of. I challenge women to start with an idea, test it out, determine if there’s space in the market for it, seek outside opinions, learn new skills to support your business needs, connect with a business owner in a similar field, and then just do it.
It’s not easy, but the best things in life aren’t. When the going gets tough, and it will (I can promise that), don’t give up. Your biggest breakthroughs are just beyond the moments you just want to quit.