Money & Career

Ruth Hurley Started A Bikini Empire On Her Holiday

Here’s how she made her dream a reality

Ruth Hurley was travelling through Latin American with her now-husband when she had a genius idea.

No, the idea wasn’t to have a mojito by the pool; it was to start a swimwear label back in Australia.

After moving to Australia from England nine years ago, Hurley, who studied at the London College of Fashion, noticed a gap in the market for affordable designer swimwear.

She used her yearlong holiday in Latin America to do business research, speak to suppliers and draw up designs. “I think you have the headspace to do that when you’re on holiday. People have good ideas all the time, but when you’re working 9am-5pm it’s hard to devote time and energy to them,” she says.

In 2013, back in Australia, she launched RH Swimwear while working full time in marketing. She spent every morning, evening, lunch break and weekend working on her brand and packing orders in her living room. “When I first started out, my flat was full of parcels and boxes,” says Hurley, who now has a warehouse in Western Sydney. “Thank goodness.”

Now in its fourth year, RH Swimwear has doubled in size year on year and has big name bikini fans such as Tash Oakley. While Hurley gets a kick when an influencer wears one of her designs on Instagram, she loves spotting customers wearing them at the beach even more. 

Having just launched her S17/18 collection, Hurley says she finds design inspiration everywhere – especially on Pinterest. “I’m constantly pinning fresh colours and prints that I like – even if that’s a crockery print,” she says.

Here’s how she turns inspiration into profit…

Secret to success: Taking a risk and working hard.

Breakfast of champions: I eat the same thing almost everyday (so boring, I know) – banana, yogurt, mixed berries, oats and chia seeds.

Best advice: Life is for living.

Hardest lesson: In business, be accountable for every step; don’t just rely on others to get it right, it’s an added bonus when they do.

Top interview tip: Check out the person you’re meeting on LinkedIn first.

Coffee order: A macchiato

Wind down: Reading a book on the beach, or sipping a glass of wine with my hubby (depending on the time of day).

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