Local business features swim trunks for women
Special to the Legal News
Published: March 29, 2016
With summer right around the corner, many people may be considering buying a new swimsuit.
About 16 years ago Cuyahoga Falls native Debbie Kuhn found herself with a similar need as she prepared to go tubing on the Madison River in Montana. But in Kuhn’s case, her choice of suit led to an idea for a business known as girltrunks swimwear.
“I needed a bathing suit and I didn’t want to wear a traditional women’s suit as I wanted coverage of my thighs,” said Kuhn. “The idea came to me to pair a Tankini top with men’s swim trunks.
“It was life changing,” she said. “The outfit was so comfortable and I was not self-conscious at all. When I got out of the water I was dry within minutes, which does not happen with women’s swimsuits.”
Kuhn said her 2000 trip sparked the notion of creating a women’s swimwear line that offered more coverage than traditional suits.
“The idea nagged at me for years,” she said. “I would run it by my friends and other women and no one ever said it was a bad idea.”
Kuhn, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Hiram College, spent years working in the corporate world doing sales and market research.
In 2009, she decided to use her own money to start girltrunks swimwear. At the time, she served as a sales manager at a venture capital company that produces international art fairs.
“I would say the hardest part was getting the word out,” said Kuhn, president and founder of girltrunks swimwear. “In 2011, I got some very good press in the Akron Beacon Journal and my company really started to take off. I ended up having hundreds of people on a wait list because demand got so great.”
Although she still hasn’t hired anyone, she said her business is growing.
Kuhn manufactures her swimwear in China. Prices range from $59 to $89 for tops and trunks cost about $79.
She said the bulk of her customers are mothers and baby boomers and her primary advertising vehicles are Facebook and social media.
“I have not paid for print and television, however I have been asked to be on TV and have received editorial coverage in various publications throughout the U.S. and Canada,” said Kuhn.
In April, Kuhn plans to start attending trade shows.
“I believe I am fulfilling a niche market for women who are searching for more modest swimwear,” said Kuhn.
“Some women are looking for a line like mine for religious reasons or because they are just more comfortable with greater coverage.
“My tagline is ‘swimWEAR CONFIDENCE.’ I say to men imagine if your only choice was a Speedo. Many women dread buying a bathing suit and being seen in public,” said Kuhn. “That’s why women love my product.”
Kuhn said she does have a number of repeat customers like Willoughby resident Elaine Reagan.
A self-described active senior, Reagan said she purchased her first outfit from girltrunks swimwear about three years ago.
“I actually heard about the company from a friend,” said Reagan. “I think they are just amazing to be honest with you. It is so hard to buy a bathing suit at my age.
“The shorts are wonderful. They cover the worst part of my legs,” said Reagan. “The fabric dries quickly and it does not look like a bathing suit so you can wear it away from the pool or beach.
“I was on vacation over Christmas in Costa Rica and I took two sets of my girltrucks swimwear and I wore them almost all the time,” said Reagan. “I swim at the Y two days a week and invariably someone always asks me where I got my suit.”
Hudson resident Kara Burr first bought girltrunks swimwear about five years ago. “I was going on a cruise and I had the dreaded question of how was I going to find a bathing suit when I came across the company in a Google search,” said Burr, who has a daughter.
“It was a wonderful find. I was not ready to put myself out there in a swimsuit so for me girltrunks swimwear was the answer. They fit well and I could wear them outside the pool.”
Burr said she has continued to buy from the company whenever she needs a swimsuit.
“They have different tops and different styles of shorts,” said Burr. “I’m very happy with them.”
Right now, Kuhn sells the swimwear exclusively online at girltrunks.com.
However, Kuhn said she hopes that one day her company will become “a national, if not a global brand,” available in stores.
“We have received orders from Canada for years,” said Kuhn. “Last year we received orders from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Denmark.”