Attire Accessories - Dec 2017/Jan 2018 (Issue 67)

106 ATTIRE What’s the inspiration behind the company and its products? Having worn a 32H bra size since I was 15, wearing swimwear has always been a problem, not just for finding a piece that fitted well, but that was also comfortable. For years I wasn’t able to wear halter-neck pieces because of the pain it gave me in the neck, both while wearing it and for several days afterwards. When I was going on my honeymoon I was looking for bikinis to take with me and found some beautiful halter necks that fitted me perfectly, but I knew would leave me with the dreaded ‘halter-ache’. I bought them, thinking that someone would have a solution for this problem – after all, I couldn’t be the only person who suffered with this, could I? I started researching and quickly realised that there wasn’t anything available. So, I made the first Halto from a piece of neoprene and an old shoe sole and went on holiday with it. It was far from pretty, but I wore my new halter-neck bikinis day and evening for 14 pain-free days. When I returned I asked my sister to help me design the product properly and bring it to market. How was your initial collection developed? We spent a long time designing the product, ensuring it was as effective as possible. From finding the best materials to both cushion the straps and redistribute the pressure to arriving at a size that found a balance between discretion and effectiveness, the whole process required serious engineering to ensure it was the best it could be. We settled on black and white as the first colours to launch because it matches most swimsuit base colours. Were there any problems when setting up the business? The biggest problem we had was funding the product development and bringing it to market. To overcome this, we made the decision to crowdfund in February 2016. Over the space of 28 days we raised more than £11,000 which helped us get the product to market. It also allowed us to test the market and gather feedback about the product and its demand. To say we were overwhelmed is an understatement! We had huge amounts of feedback from people saying how much they needed a product like Halto and couldn’t wait to get their hands on it. We also had retailers contact us through our crowdfunding wanting to stock the product as soon as it was available. Crowdfunding was an amazing experience for us and allowed us to understand our customers as well as raise the much-needed funds. Is the collection aimed at a particular type of retail outlet or consumer? Our market research has shown that the larger a woman’s bra size, the more likely she is to suffer neck pain with halter- neck straps, and would buy a product like Halto. Regardless of this, 47 per cent of women agreed that they found halter-neck swimwear uncomfortable and a further 15 per cent said they sometimes do. Of the ladies polled, 53 per cent, regardless of bra size, said they would buy a product like Halto, meaning that this isn’t a niche product.The average bra size is currently 36DD, so it’s not surprising that most women suffer with the ‘halter ache’. As such, Halto is an ideal accessory for any store selling halter-neck swimwear. Retailers have found that it’s not only an excellent up-sell, but it has also encouraged sales of halter-neck swimwear as women are now able to buy swimwear they’d normally avoid due to the pain. When did you launch the website and how important is it to the business? We launched our website just before we started trading in July 2016. It has been vital not only for e-commerce sales, but also as a platform for retailers to contact us and understand what the product is. A really important part of our brand is making women feel amazing and the website’s blog gives us a space in which we’re able to discuss issues affecting women, such as body image and sexism. What are the long-term plans for the swimwear brand? Halto will be launching different colour options and we have several other products in the pipeline to launch. In addition to this, we’re increasing our retail base across Europe and Australia to make Halto a truly global brand. A Community support Sisters Lucy and Lerryn discovered both a gap in the swimwear market and cure for a pain in the neck, founding Halto in the process. Lerryn reveals the tiny accessory’s journey, from solving honeymoon ‘halter ache’ to crowdfunding camaraderie Contact Halto