Lsea Swimwear is a Florida-based brand that was founded by Bethany Ludlam. She was inspired to start her collection after visiting the Dominican Republic in early 2015. It was not only the land and the beaches that inspired Bethany, but it was also the people. In turn, her goal for Lsea was to ensure a portion of each purchase was donated to educate, nourish and provide Dominican children with a “promising future”.
With such a unique start to a swimwear brand, we reached out to Bethany to learn more about her latest collection, being made in the USA and her connection to the Dominican Republic.
MalenDyer: Let’s start with your latest collection. Share with us more about it.
Bethany Ludlam: I loved last year’s collection, although, I really wanted to make this collection better. My biggest focus was adding a few more styles and PRINTS! I wanted to have some bold, tropical prints that would really stand out. I also paired them with some really beautiful new solids, and I love how they turned out.
“For this collection, I wanted to have some bold, tropical prints that would really stand out.”
BL: We shot the 2018 collection in Sarasota, Florida, with photographer Christine Wozz. We had several models from the area. It was a three-day shoot, and it turned out better then I could have imagined. Then, in October, we flew out to the Dominican Republic with photographer Oveth Martinez and model Brittany Ball – it was such a great trip! We shot for six days and would do morning and evening shoots each day. We still managed to have fun during and in-between working.
MD: As swimwear doesn’t necessarily run on the fashion schedule, what approach do you take to releasing new collections?
BL: We just started selling wholesale to surf shops, so it’s a little tricky. I have to have the following year’s collection ready by April. It’s a lot of pressure and always feels rushed because we don’t release the collection to the public until January. Since we just released part of our new collection, we have to start working on the next year’s now.
MD: Lsea is made in the USA – what have been some challenges you have had with this and some wins?
BL: The biggest challenge is the cost. Fabric is much more expensive. Not only are our suits made here, but so is our fabric. It’s also hard for some to understand why a large company is selling a similar top for $50 and we are selling ours for $68. I have to explain it a lot. Being made in the USA doesn’t only provide jobs here, but it’s helping support local businesses. We could easily go make our suits in China or Bali, but I just love being able to support our country.
“Being made in the USA doesn’t only provide jobs here, but it’s helping support local businesses.”
MD: Your swimwear is reversible! What were some features you wanted to incorporate into your swimwear when you started?
BL: Yes! The way I look at it is if the suit is not reversible, you still have to line it. So, you’re already using and paying for two fabrics and why not spend a little bit more to make that second fabric high quality and make it reversible! I love mixing and matching solids and prints and with our suits, the possibilities are endless.
MD: As Lsea was founded after a trip you took to the Dominican Republic, what was it about DR that drew you in?
BL: I don’t even know how to describe it. The culture, the communities, the people, the beauty, it was just all so amazing. When I was there, I just felt like I belonged and wanted to make a difference.
MD: Share with us more about the local communities you work to help.
BL: We first got connected with this community during our first visit. Our cousins lived in a community down the road and took us to it. They have a lot of issues in this particular community (violence, poverty, etc.). We visited the high school and got to meet a lot of the kids. We were told that they didn’t have a preschool for the younger children, and I firmly believe that education is so important, especially for communities struggling with poverty.
“I firmly believe that education is so important, especially for communities struggling with poverty.”
BL: We were able to help start the preschool shortly after. The children who attend are fed and educated. They are the sweetest little kids I have ever met! We visited in October and did a fun day for them. We brought balls and supplies for the schools. We definitely see the difference it’s making. A lot of the parents have also gotten involved.
MD: How often do you get back to DR?
BL: We go two to three times a year. It’s tricky when you’re running a business to get away, but we go as often as we can.
MD: On a lighter note, what are some of your must-do’s when you are in DR – whether to eat, sleep or do?
BL: The beaches are a must! We love to surf and snorkel! Renting ATV’s is one of our favorite things to do. We also love to eat local! I could eat chicken and rice every day! It’s amazing there.
“When in DR, the beaches are a must!”
MD: What are you most looking forward to for Lsea in the coming year?
BL: We just launched the first four prints of the Summer collection! We have six more we are working on, so I’m really excited about launching those. I will also be working on some new styles for next year, and I’m looking forward to designing those.