Here at House of Coco we are huge fans of the caribbean, from Barbados to Grenada, we love it all. It’s no surprise that you would go here and find inspiration and that is exactly what Tenneka Richards did, founder of Ten&Lee Swimwear.
Here, she tells us more about her inspirations and plans for the future…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
Ten&Lee Swimwear Ltd was registered on the 25th August 2015, we launched our first SS16-AW16 collection of monokini’s late June 2016. The business idea came about in August 2014 when I was preparing to go to New York’s Caribbean Carnival on Labour Day (usually the 1st Monday in September). I was trying to find a bikini/swimsuit with either the St. Kitts & Nevis flag print or the Antigua & Barbuda flag print, but was unable to locate any after searching high and low. Once I returned back to the UK, having discovered a gap in the market of other Caribbean Island printed swimwear not being available Ten&Lee was created.
What’s your background?
I studied a Joint Honours Bachelor degree in Travel & Tourism with Education and Employment at St. Mary’s University College graduating in 2009. After graduating I became interested in marketing and studied a marketing qualification with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) whilst working as a Marketing Executive in the Enterprise team for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
Currently just myself with advice and support on hand from business advisors. I have recently taken on a social media intern to help deliver Ten&Lee’s marketing strategy plan. Because the business is a new startup it is quite manageable at this stage to run the business on my own. Once the brand starts to grow further down the line I will be looking to get a small team onboard.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
If I could start over I would have done a lot more research into finding a suitable manufacturer earlier on.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
I have faced so many hard challenges which I’ve had to overcome. Starting a business whilst working full time and having a part time job is a lot more difficult than I initially thought. With the support and advice on hand from advisors alongside family and friends, I have stayed optimistic and determined throughout the hurdles I have across.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I am hypermobile (double jointed) which allows me to dislocate my hips.
2016 is flying by, where do you plan on taking the brand?
Well after recently launching the SS16 – AW16 I plan to introduce more sizes and more island prints towards the end of the year. I would like to take the brand internationally to the Caribbean islands which we represent.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
Being listed in the 20 Black-Owned Swimwear Brands to Support This Summer on the OfficialBlackwallStreet.com; being featured in the Itz Caribbean fashion section and being listed in the 27 Black Owned Businesses in the UK on ShoppeBlack.com.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
London, I moved from Leeds to London 13 years ago and haven’t regretted it to this day. Paris is very pretty at night, but I do love New York too, but not sure if I could survive their winters!
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Hand cream, lip balm and eye liner
Wearing what you feel comfortable in and not dressing to impress others.
Best thing about London to you?
It’s a city which doesn’t sleep, with endless things to do and see.
Statement shoe or statement bag?
I would say statement bag, I’m a bag fanatic
Favourite love song?
Alicia Keys, Butterflies
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
Stay on top of your accounts! It will save you time and money in the long term
Sweets, I have a very sweet tooth!
If you could spend 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
St. Lucia I’ve never been, but have always wanted to visit this Caribbean Island. The photos I have seen of the mountains, flora and fauna are absolutely stunning, this is one of the many destinations I have on my list to visit.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
I am hoping to introduce a childrenswear range as well as a menswear range in the near future.
Find out more…
My website is tenandlee.com where you can see the full range of reversible monokini’s. Like our Facebook page @tenandleeswimwear, you can also follow my journey on Instagram and Twitter @tenandlee to see some photos of our SS16 – AW16 collection.