Derived from Benin mythology, ‘Ezili Swimwear’ takes its name from the ancient goddess of sweet water, love and beauty. An aspiring lifestyle brand, each collection takes inspiration from the luxurious beaches of Southern France and the glamorous parties of Miami’s South Beach, casting summer sass and cool confidence to the girl with an eye for the finer things in life.
With an eye for exceptional quality and stand-out design, we sat with founder, Ally Armitage, to learn a little about what inspired her to create the brand, to talk about her experiences as a business-woman in Manchester, and to dive a little deeper into the depths of Ezili.
How were you inspired to start up your own business? I was modelling full time, but I knew that wasn’t going to be a ‘forever thing’. In the back of my mind, I think I always knew there needed to be another plan… I just knew it had to be something I was passionate about. I used to love modelling because it involved a lot of travelling and meeting new people, but now I’ve found my passion, I find all that to be a bit of an inconvenience. I just want to be at home working on Ezili!
Behind the scenes of modelling, you really see a different side to the clothes – nothing is ever made to fit properly, so there was always a lot of gripping and clamping to make sure the clothes looked right. I’d been on a few trips to the US, to places like Vegas, and I could never find a bikini that I really liked, and it was especially hard to find one that suited my style and budget. So, I started to look into a few things, and before I knew it, a hobby became an obsession, and then a business.
Which initial steps did you need to take? The first step was finding the right factory, which was tricky, because I really wanted to keep the business local and UK based. I tried so many UK manufacturers, but I wasn’t fully happy with the product they could offer… so I had to go down the overseas route, which was kind of a disappointment, but now I’m really happy with the quality of my products. I really feel that you have to be happy with the quality, otherwise, what’s the point?
What is it about your swimwear collections that you’re so passionate about? Well... a love of the sun, a love of holidays, and overcoming my original difficulty in finding something unique. This isn’t the kind of stuff you’ll do 60 lengths at the pool in – it’s holiday swimwear, designed with Instagram in mind… you know, for your beach clubs and pool parties! We tend to shy away from fluorescent colours and diamantes, as I felt there was a gap in the market for something a little more chic and subtle at a reasonable price point. I’d actually call Eziili a lifestyle brand, and I’d love it to become even more lifestyle focused as the business grows.
How do you find running a business in Manchester? I’ve lived here for about eight years now, and I just really love the cool, northern vibe....weather aside. I really enjoy being part of the young business scene because there’s just so much going on. When we held our launch party, there were so many fabulous venues we visited that would have been so amazing to work with. It’s a really quirky place, full of people who might actually like to try something a bit different.
How have you found being a woman in the industry, and what does the future hold for Ezili Swim? In the fashion industry, everything seems to be naturally very female led. Thinking about it, all of my models, photographers and marketing team are female… even the manufacturing team are female, so it just shows something in itself really, doesn’t it?
I want to bring in loads more beachwear. PR wise, a lot of the people that I aspire to work with are already contracted to people like Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret, so I want to bring in more beachwear and accessories, as I feel it will open the doors to so many amazing people and exciting collaborations – so for example, I’m even looking into shoe manufacturers currently, which is a category we've never tried online before. The dream is to transform Ezili Swim into a one-stop beach holiday destination. Ezili Swim