Tween besties launch swimwear start-up Cinnamon Cove

Jade Lazarevic | 7th November 2021

Myla Tucker and Olivia Lorenz come across as typical 12-year-old besties.

They love to go to the beach, take their dogs for a walk and ride their bikes around the streets of their suburb, Cooks Hill.

They are also entrepreneurs. The pair are the brains behind swimwear label Cinnamon Cove which is today launching the online release of its first swimsuit specifically designed for tweens aged eight to 14.

It all began three months ago during the early stages of NSW’s latest lockdown after the two spent time hanging out at the beach and noticed a lack of appropriate swimwear designs for girls in their age bracket.

“Liv and I found ourselves with a lot of spare time on our hands during lockdown, so we would go down to the beach together and while we were there we were looking around at swimmers and there were literally no options for us,” Tucker tells Weekender.

Liv and I found ourselves with a lot of spare time on our hands during lockdown, so we would go down to the beach together and while we were there we were looking around at swimmers and there were literally no options for us.

Myla Tucker

“The prints were either too childish with rainbows and unicorns or they were too non-practical and skimpy and revealing for our age.

“We still like surfing and doing cartwheels and all of these kinds of activities at the beach, but there is literally nothing out there in the way of swimmers that is ideal for our age group.

“After we went to the beach I got home and I watched a program about entrepreneurship and that’s when the idea came to me. I was like ‘I’m going to make my own swimmers. That’s what I’m going to do’.”

Tucker took the idea to Lorenz the next day and it quickly grew. First they had to come up with a name (“Which took longer than it probably should have,” Lorenz laughs) and then they reached out for advice about all things business, design and sustainable manufacturing from mentors who, impressed by their infectious ambition, happily offered their advice via Zoom meetings. Among those was Julia King, former CEO of Louis Vuitton Australia (who connected with the girls via Lorenz’s grandmother), Heidi Semetka-Plate from premium fashion brand Sancia, and Steven Fleming, founder of Newcastle-based luxury handmade swimwear label Pride.

“We were really big on reaching out to people and we needed a lot of help so we explained ‘We need advice because we are not really sure what to do at this stage’. We were very lucky,” Tucker says.

“Julia talked to us a lot about getting started so that was really helpful.

“Steven from Pride talked to us about sweatshops and manufacturing. We learned so much from him.

“Without their help we wouldn’t be where we are now because we had no idea what to do when we started out.”

Once they had developed the design and picked out a colour palette, the pair had to find a manufacturer. That is where Pride Swimwear stepped in. Fleming reached out to the girls and offered his assistance when he heard about their brand and their goal of creating sustainable and stylish yet practical age-appropriate fashion.

“When we saw Cinnamon Cove were based in Newcastle, Pride felt obliged to help out,” Fleming says.

“We wanted to protect these girls from agents for overseas sweatshops, and instead get them kick-started with a product that demonstrated their commitment to quality and sustainability.

“Newcastle-made is something we’re incredibly proud of and we’re so happy to launch the girls as a strong Newcastle brand too.”

Connecting with Fleming was a defining moment for the label.

“He understood our niche market and he really wanted to work with us,” Tucker says.

“He said ‘Look, can we do something with you guys because I think you’re doing an amazing job’. That’s when we got really excited.”

The girls are inspired by slow fashion and Audrey Hepburn’s classic style, and are more interested in creating quality, timeless products than disposable pieces. Eco-friendly sustainable fabrics and ethical manufacturing are important to them.

“We are all about slow fashion. It is something we are passionate about because we want people to buy things that they love and that will last,” Lorenz says.

“That’s what this is and what we hope these swimmers are going to be.

“We are trying to work on sustainability as much as we can because we are the next generation that is going to help the planet so we want to do as much as we can there.”

Cinnamon Cove’s first design is a vintage-inspired one-piece swimsuit handmade from premium Italian sustainable fabric Carvico, featuring block colours with white piping. A two-piece design is set to launch later in the year.

Getting to this point has not come without hurdles. Choosing a name that represented the brand proved tough and understanding the ins and outs of manufacturing a sustainable product was another learning curve for the pair.

“We found it really hard to source a sustainable fabric but we have found one that we are really happy with,” Lorenz says.

“It’s really important for us because we are trying to make a world we want to live in, and sustainability for us is about protecting our future.

“There are two parts to sustainability in fashion: there is the choice of fabric and then the manufacturing, so for the choice of fabric we really wanted it to be high quality and we ended up with a fabric made out of recycled fishing nets, which is really great.

“With the manufacturing side of things we originally looked overseas but you have to make so many orders and you can’t try them on.

“They come to you and if you like them, you keep them, but a lot of the time you have to make adjustments and go back and forth, which we just couldn’t do. We are really lucky to have a manufacturer here in Newcastle because it means it is so much easier. It’s also in line with our principles so we are really lucky in that way too.”

The girls attribute their success to the support they have received from other businesses in Newcastle, including Pride Swimwear and local design company Something More Design which offered its services free after being impressed by Tucker and Lorenz’s bravery in taking the leap to start up their own brand.

They are also using a Newcastle pattern-maker and swimwear developer to develop the designs for Cinnamon Cove. Support to develop their business idea has come from the Australian Government funded Hunter Futurepreneurs program and they are currently sourcing seed funding for the business.

The girls are also entering the upcoming Young Hunter Business Minds Awards where they could win a cash prize for their start-up.

“There are a lot of people that have all been so supportive of what we wanted to do and that has really helped us get to this point, so we are really thankful for that,” Lorenz says.

Tucker says the pair’s different strengths have allowed them to progress as quickly as they have with Cinnamon Cove.

“We both have different personalities, so Liv is more of the thinker and I have the drive to get things done,” she adds.

“Everyone is really proud of us and they have backed us up and it’s been really great to see how much support we have behind us. It is amazing how quickly it has happened.”

Visit cinnamoncove.com.au.

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