This week, I’m excited to present one of the clients we’re currently working with, Hayley Segar.
Hayley is the founder of onewith, an inclusive and body-positive swim brand providing swimwear that mimics a second skin through a distinctive method that feels like seamless undergarments. onewith works hard to capture the beauty and detail of a sun-soaked, nostalgic East Coast summer.
I’m thrilled to have been a part of such a fantastic brand Hayley has created, and I'm grateful to have learned more about her experience as a founder.
Were you always interested in starting your own company? What inspired you to start your own business?
Hayley’s entrepreneurial spirit started young. At the age of 13, she worked for herself in some capacity. She knew that one day she would be building something of her own from the ground up.
“I have always had this universal trust that I would get an idea in my head that would feel like I had no other choice but to pursue it, and that is exactly what ended up happening when I thought of onewith. onewith was born out of my frustration with the way traditional swimwear looks on the body. I was trying on bathing suits in my living room for a trip to Miami when I said out loud, “I just want a swimsuit that feels like my [raw-cut] underwear.” My body instantly froze up, the concept hit me like a ton of bricks (in the best way possible). I had to create this. Swimwear that would feel one with a woman’s body. It was the most incredible feeling, and I truly hope that everyone gets to experience something like that ‘lightbulb’ moment in their lifetime.”
Those Eureka moments can be life-changing!!!
What was the beginning of starting onewith like? Did you have a hard time getting started, or did the pieces fall into place?
“The 12 months after I had thought of the onewith concept were spent figuring out how I was going to bring this product to life. I was doing research, writing my business plan, conceptualizing the brand, sketching, making prototypes, and even considering going to design school to learn how to make CADs, tech packs, patterns, etc. I did not tell a single person (other than the person who had witnessed me having my ‘aha’ moment) about onewith during this time. Not family, not friends...no one. After spending enough time working onewith out in my own head, it was time to start disclosing my idea to professionals who I knew could help me.”
As entrepreneurs, we have this misconception that we must do it all! Delete that belief and take a note out of Hayley’s business playbook. She had enough awareness to know that growth for onewith would come quicker if she collaborated and sought the advice of experts. Snaps to Hayley!
“It was after I met my business advisor (through the Small Business Development Center) that I felt everything started falling into place. My advisor, Mary Kay, assisted me in putting together my first financial projections, setting onewith up as a legal entity, and so on. She also encouraged me to pitch for a spot in my alma mater’s entrepreneurial Fellowship program, which I ended up getting accepted to. It was after my acceptance into UConn’s Summer Fellowship that I started telling family members who encouraged me to pursue my idea of contracting a designer, who would supply the technical skills needed to help me realize this collection (instead of going back to school, which in hindsight would’ve definitely not been the right move). After I started working with Kristen, that’s when onewith really started moving and grooving in terms of working towards making this a tangible collection.”
Was it scary when you first went out on your own? How did you get started?
“While I knew that starting this brand would be a massive undertaking, I do think I was blissfully unaware of all of the complexities and challenges I was going to face - and thank goodness I was.”
“I pictured this journey being very linear (fellow entrepreneurs are laughing at this statement). My particular journey to bring onewith to life has been anything - and I mean ANYTHING - but linear. But despite that, what I will say is every person you meet, every step you take...if you have your eyes open, it will bring you to the next logical place in your entrepreneurial journey. So, once I really decided on my steps for how I was going to realize onewith, there was a sort of natural progression in starting to build it.”
As the wise Marie Forleo once said, “clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” When you’re pondering what to do next in your entrepreneurial journey, just take action. Whether the choice was right or wrong, you’ll receive insight that will inform the next step forward.
What is the biggest failure you've experienced in your business? What did you learn from it?
“We lost our manufacturing partner that we were planning on using in the summer of 2020. onewith could’ve launched last year had it not been for that setback. It forced us to have to go back to the drawing board (harkening back to my ‘this has been anything but linear’ remark), and it cost a ton of time and money to do so. I had been learning this lesson gradually throughout the process. Still, this particular situation magnified it and made it completely unavoidable to see and admit -that launching a product/business would take more time and resources than I initially ever could have imagined.”
What's the best advice you've ever been given, life or business?
“Honor your gut instinct.”
Straight to the point, I love it!
What's the most recent lesson your business has taught you?
“Most recently, it has taught me to try - even when it is really, really hard - to appreciate the process.”
In the great words of Ella Fitzgerald, “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”
What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?
“To operate as though barriers do not exist.”
What's your favorite part about being a business owner? What's the hardest part?
“I adore the flexibility and the ability to create your own world. The hardest part is the weight of that proverbial world being on your shoulders...at all times.”
Remember you are one person doing the job that most corporations have entire departments for! Relax and reward yourself. No one can pour from an empty cup.
What is something you have accomplished that you are most proud of?
“Truthfully, seeing how I have evolved as a person throughout this process is what I am most proud of, seeing the limits I have been pushed to and how I have responded to them. I am grateful for all of the experiences along the way that are allowing me to see different facets of myself.”
Don’t forget to appreciate the growth you’ve made along the way. You will always be your most important project.
What are the most important skills or traits you've found helpful in entrepreneurship? Are there any traits you've discovered that make it harder to succeed if you don't keep it in check?
“I am grateful that I am a decisive person with a very clear vision. I love executing, I love deadlines, I am a do-er. Those have been incredibly helpful traits. On the flip side, and sort of in tandem with those traits, I am very rigid. This journey has taught me to test that rigidity to stay adaptable, but it’s also shown me that I need to maintain it in a lot of ways...checks and balances.”
What's your favorite 'game-changer' tool that you can share with everyone? (ie. hellobonsai, airtable, later, etc.).
“Canva. I use Canva for absolutely everything. From packaging design to pitch decks to project briefs to social assets to letterheads to media kits, there is not a day that goes by where I don’t open Canva multiple times over. It’s more ubiquitous now as a tool than it used to be, but I highly recommend playing around with Canva to truly see all that it has to offer. And entrepreneurs...invest in the Pro membership! Among other things, it allows you to set up branding kits to keep your company (or companies) colors and fonts at-hand when you’re creating new materials to keep everything cohesive.”
We love Canva Here!
Where can we find you if we'd like to learn more about you?
Check out this amazing woman right here!
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