Meet The Makers: Monte & Lou
Monte & Lou adds a pop of colour and print to our Hot Body swimwear family. With bright and bold designs in both resort and swimwear, in this edition of Meet The Maker, we catch up with the two ladies behind the brand to dive into what the label is all about, the inspiration behind the designs and learn a little about the business dynamic of the power duo.
Monte & Lou is a very personal brand for us. It’s a combination of my surname “Monte” from Tramonte and “Lou” from Louise which is Kay’s middle name. We wanted a brand that had a true “fashion” feel and not just swim related as we offer beautiful resortwear to coordinate with our swim and we’re soon to be adding some very exciting new categories to the brand stable.
What inspires your designs?
We take inspiration from the colours occurring in our natural environment which was a major influence in our most recent campaign shoot “Tending Nature”. Our aesthetic is one of sophisticated femininity expressed in bespoke prints using our exclusive quick dry recycled sustainable fabric.
We are inspired to create beautiful innovative yet functional designs with emphasis on quality and fit. We understand that no two women’s bodies are the same and we design with that uniqueness in mind.
What made you want to dive into the world of swimwear?
Kay was asked by many retailers to start up her own label as they were missing her design aesthetic. Kay and I had worked together for many years and have a strong friendship. After a couple of discussions we decided to start our own label. We have both amassed 35 years of experience within the swimwear industry. This category led us to identify the need in the market for swimwear that was not only faster drying, but a garment that would provide body contouring support without compromising the drying properties as well as feel beautiful against the skin.
Pictured: Monte & Lou founders, Kay & Lynne
With two of you behind the brand, who does what and how do you bring your individual styles into your collections?
Starting a new business is a steep learning curve. The first thing we did was define our roles and responsibilities. We both worked for a global brand with specific departments for things like logistics, purchasing and finance. Kay and I have been responsible for every role within our business from the beginning, so we really needed to learn quickly. We have a running joke when fitting all these aspects into our day to day, we’d say “where are all the people who do that?”
Kay looks after all creative aspects of the business from design to marketing and Lynne’s responsible for all business operations as the CEO of the business, taking on other varied departments such as logistics, supply chain management, finance and global expansion.
Even though we had clear strengths in different areas, we have kept each other involved in every aspect so we are a real team. We are both involved with creating the collections so the finished product is a fusion of our two styles. We both have a very commercial eye and love a bit of a vintage, tropical prints, florals with strong a feminine aesthetic.
As strong, confident women in this business, do you have any advice for women that struggle to find their own confidence?
One of the reasons we have self-confidence is our partnership. Having a business partner helps your confidence, we have each other to bounce ideas off, support each other and we’re not too proud to be able to workshop problems and ideas to find a solution. So I would say that if you are struggling to find your confidence it helps to have a friend to support you, maybe someone with complimentary skills or interests and don’t be afraid to give things a go. We’ve never been afraid to give things a go, we’ve learnt so much in three years and up-skilled in so many areas. We are always learning and willing to listen and willing to change and adapt to new challenges in both business and our product. Especially this past year, what we expected to happen didn’t happen with COVID so we had to change and adapt which is where we found the opportunity to fast track our sustainable fabric into the market.
I suppose with our experience comes confidence in our abilities, and tenacity but we have taken the time to keep evaluating what we are doing and change course if need be.
What's next for your brand?
Because we have been able to fast track our sustainable fabrics and analyse our entire supply chain to further reduce our waste, reuse and recycle. Our exclusive quick dry fabric and body sculpting lining are now 85% recycled nylon, helping to reduce pre and post consumer waste. We’ve also introduced biodegradable bags to transport our products along with our biodegradable post packs, and we’re about to introduce biodegradable hygiene stickers. We’re looking forward to new opportunities with a number of exciting new products due to launch in 2021.
You can shop our full range of Monte & Lou here or pop into our Newmarket shop to try it for yourself!