Lemons into Lemonade: Lexi Donato

Updated: May 17

Lexi Donato is the founder and CEO of LDLA - a body-positive, eco-friendly swimwear brand, with numberless sizing. It's also super cute swimwear with a natural simplicity that you can't help but love.


I loved the opportunity to learn more about her, and think you'll be inspired by her mission, dedication, and commitment to cultivating confidence. 


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Lexi Donato


You have numberless sizing, and a Goddess chart instead! Tell me more about that and what inspired you to go this route? Do you think customers like it better than traditional sizing? It seems more fun!


Lexi decided to create a brand with numberless sizing because of personal experiences while growing up. Sometimes she felt shameful or embarrassed about that little number or letter on her clothing tags. 


"I grew up feeling so much body shame solely because of my size, not my physical size, but the numbers/letters imprinted on the tag of my jeans. While my friends were a 0 or 4, I was a 12, also known as a "large/ extra large." When I'd walk into a fitting room, I hid the tag, and in the rare occasion I bought clothes, the first thing I'd do was cut off the tag and hide it at the bottom of the trash, never to be discovered EVER again. It was traumatizing as a kid to be labeled "large". It took years to overcome label-shame but from that birthed 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 strength, worthiness, radiance, power."


Lexi is not the only one to love this numberless approach; her customers are huge fans as well. 


"Our customers are inspired by our approach to sizing. It's given them the ability to see their bodies for what they truly are.... wonderfully made."


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Additional Info About LDLA, Provided by Lexi


Were women in Greek mythology an inspiration to you? Who or what else inspires you, that has shaped your company?


Lexi felt that goddesses aligned with the mission of LDLA well; Thus, they became an inspiration for the brand and sizing process.


"Ultimately, goddesses represented beauty, strength, radiance, power, and I thought, what better symbol than to represent the women. It wasn't so much the mythology of everything than it was the meaning and message. The same message that shaped every element of the company."


Were you always interested in starting your own venture? What inspired you to start your own business?


Lexi was always entrepreneurial, even from a young age. 


"My first venture was the infamous lemonade stand, and from there, I started creating and selling jewelry made from glass beads. I even landed myself a placement in a local boutique all before the age of 12, but that venture was short-lived."


Lexi is not the first in her family with an entrepreneurial spirit; in fact, her grandmother is a particularly fascinating inspiration. 


"Entrepreneurship runs in my blood, and I'm certain my ambition for business came from my grandmother. She was an immigrant from Austria, and started a private school in Pennsylvania when all odds were against her. Her story is truly an inspiration."


When Lexi decided to create LDLA, it came from a deep desire to uplift women and change the swimsuit industry. 


"I was inspired to start LDLA because I wanted to change the swim space from a realm of insecurity to a platform of confidence. I aimed to do this by creating flattering swim styles minus the anxiety-riddled numbers that haunt most of our minds when shopping. Instead, I chose terms that embodied beauty, strength, and radiance, that's why we use goddess names to represent our sizes. 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."


What was the beginning like? Did you have a hard time getting started, or did the pieces fall into place?


"I knew without a doubt that LDLA was my mission, my purpose, which made it easier to charge forward. As hard as building a business can be, I felt as though everything really fell into place. From the moment of conception to launch, it took only 8 months, which is how I knew LDLA was meant to be. Of course, as a first-time business owner, I had to teach and troubleshoot nearly everything, but I was able to navigate what was in front of me and learn along the way."


I love Lexi's confident, decisive answer. Especially as women, we often struggle with doubt and fear and let that doubt hold us back- even when we know deep down what we want. I admire Lexi's willingness to go for it, and will undoubtedly be taking a page from her book. 

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LDLA Swimsuit, Bottoms Can Be Purchased Here


What is the biggest failure you've experienced in your business? What did you learn from it?


Lexi shared that she hasn't experienced a major failure thus far. However, she has definitely learned many mini-lessons through trial and error. Upon reflecting, she shares...


"I kind of believe that the journey wouldn't be worth it without errors and failure, because that's what makes the victories so sweet."


What's the best advice you've ever been given life or business?


The best advice Lexi has received is: "Nose to the grindstone.


"My grandfather always quoted that, and it essentially means work hard. I've certainly applied that to not only my business but my life."


Lexi certainly does walk the talk; She shared…


"When starting LDLA, I didn't have the luxury of only doing my business full time... I needed to pay my bills, so I went out, got a waitressing job and secured a modeling contract. I worked 3 jobs to make sure LDLA had the resources to be a success."


LDLA-inclusive-swimwear-sizing

Black LDLA swimsuit, top can be purchased here


What's the most recent lesson your business has taught you?


"Our message matters. It's been so encouraging to read all the emails and direct messages customers send to us. The impact LDLA has had on the lives of women all over the world is truly inspiring."


What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?


Lexie has two pieces of advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs: 


"1. Just do it and 2. Don't be afraid to ask another entrepreneur/business owner for advice."


Why?


"What's life without risks, right? If you are passionate about something and you feel driven and confident that it has potential, lean into it and see where it goes. Gain valuable insight from other business owners along the way, because they've been in your shoes once and they can share their mistakes with you, the ones that you can avoid."


What's your favorite part about being a business owner? What's the hardest part?


Lexi's answer was thoughtful and relatable to many small business owners I have spoken with: 


"My favorite part about being a business owner is encouraging women and connecting with the LDLA community. The hardest part is having all responsibilities fall on my shoulders... and the weight is pretty heavy at times."


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?


The most essential skills Lexi has found helpful is organization and routine. 


"Those two things are essential to creating a well-oiled wheel of a business. If you don't have them, it makes it 10x harder to succeed in business."