“As a high school student without a job I was all for making some cash. But that quickly escalated and then friends and family started asking me to make them each one, till one day I started having strangers knock on my parents door.” This is how 23 year old Kortni Jeane Niccoli got her start as an entrepreneur. She’s an exemplar of taking risks and going for what you want no matter the obstacles.
A woman doing big and bold things isn’t something new; it’s just something we don’t hear about very often. What is even far less documented, is women going above and beyond to inspire and empower others through their businesses. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not actually a common occurrence. Along with Niccoli, are Beverly Brooks, 28, and Shawna Miller, 39; these three women are changing the entrepreneurial game with their businesses and desire to make other women feel confident in the skin they’re in.
To some, bearing all in a swimsuit can be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable but it’s the goal of Niccoli, Brooks, and Miller to make women want to shine and bear their all in swimwear all the time. These women all own and operate their own swimwear companies. Kortni Jeane was founded in 2014 by Niccoli, Exploring Shawna in early 2016 by Miller, and Beverly Swimwear in 2011 by Brooks. Niccoli wants swimwear to be more than just a summer thing but a magical thing where women like wearing what makes them feel beautiful. She says, “I love nothing more than to see my designs out in the world and the people in them feeling comfortable and confident. I wish to continue to empower women and not only be a brand but a place where everyone feels they can be themselves, express themselves, and just have a positive experience.”
From Kortni Jeane
Brooks has made it a point to create a business that works to promote growth of jobs in the U.S., saying, “all of the swimsuits are handmade with materials purchased in the United States.” This is something many might see as important for a budding business since, according to reports, outsourcing jobs cost the U.S. 32 million jobs in the last few years. She also wants customers to be able to have a product that fits them exactly the way it should, which is why Brooks uses her unique talent to hand make her customers swimsuits “which allows customers to create a swimsuit of their dreams,” according to the young entrepreneur.
From Beverly Swimwear
The inception of Exploring Shawna began when a friend inspired Miller with her words of encouragement. Miller says, “I should thank that friend because that little statement got me thinking why not create something for women just like me.” For her, it’s about being an inspiration to others, “I present real life. I am in my late 30’s, the mom of two teens and I model my own swimsuit. I do this because I want to encourage my daughter, as well as other women, to love themselves. I am not 6ft nor am I a size zero but what I present is confidence to wear what feels comfortable. Let’s not cover up the Mom Bod or the everyday woman Bod for that matter. Let’s embrace it,” Miller says.
From Exploring Shawna
With more than 9 million U.S. firms now being owned by women and generating $1.5 trillion in sales, according to 2015 data from the National Association of Women Business Owners, it’s about time the women doing these incredible feats get their time in the spotlight. It can be a breath of fresh air having people like these three entrepreneurs, with budding businesses, creating something that will continue to empower other women. It’s more than just about showing other women they should love the skin they’re in and the swimsuits they rock. Niccoli, Brooks, and Miller are showing women that they have the ability to go out and create empires and they’re shattering glass ceilings, one swimsuit at a time.
Lorna Gabrielle Balfour is a senior at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, UT. Lorna graduates this May in a degree that she created herself, as well as a minor in Psychology. She named her major Broadcasting and Production and it focuses on a blend of Film Production, Journalism, and Marketing. Her major has allowed her the opportunity to gain experience from the entire realm of media where she dabbles in social media marketing, producing films, and writing as a journalist and reporter. As an Emma Bowen Scholar, she has had the opportunity to work and engage with many media executives from the likes of ABC, HBO, Comcast|NBCUniversal, as well as many others. Lorna has also been a model and actress for the last fifteen years and recently signed with a talent agency to continue working professionally. She is the creator of Sickle Cellebrity, a blog that focuses on bringing to light the rare disease of Sickle Cell Anemia. Lorna is also the blogger of SincerelyLorna.com and is in the process of an exciting new media venture. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.