Looking for a swimsuit that feels flattering and is still stylish led Hayley Segar to create her own swimwear line, onewith. After finding CTSBDC through an online search, she signed up to attend a course to learn how to launch a business and was connected with CTSBDC Pre-Venture Business Advisor, Mary Kay Della Camera. From there, they have been working together to launch this luxurious swimwear line.
Owner investment + $15,000 award from CCEI Summer Fellowship Program
1 full time + contractors
onewith & CTSBDC: A Success Story
Owner: Hayley Segar
Business Start Date: February 2020
What Does Your Business Do?
We have reimagined the construction of swimwear to be onewith a woman's body.
What Inspired You to Start Your Business?
I was packing for a trip to Miami and tried on at least a dozen different swimsuits in my living room to attempt to find just one that made me feel good. [After not being able to find anything with the right fit], the idea hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never ever felt anything like that moment. I knew that if it didn't exist, I had to create it within the swim space. So I held my idea tightly to my chest and set out to do just that - to create a swimsuit that was "onewith" my body.
Before Coming to the CTSBDC, What Were Your Primary Challenges and/or Needs?
I've always been fascinated with the origin stories of businesses, and especially Connecticut-based businesses. I found CTSBDC while doing a Google search on another CT-based company I had been working with and saw that the founder had mentioned CTSBDC as a resource that helped her start her company. I was n a place of not knowing exactly the steps I needed to take to set up my business, so naturally this led me to Google CTSBDC. From there, I submitted an intake form and signed up for a class they were offering. It was at that class that I connected with Mary Kay Della Camera, who was the first person I ever shared my idea with aside from my then-boyfriend. She not only validated my idea and gave me the encouragement to pursue it, but within that same meeting she aided me in setting up my business and gave me tangible next steps. Mary Kay not have known it but that meeting - and her help - was life-altering for me as it gave me the exact momentum I needed to make this happen.
How has the CTSBDC helped you overcome your challenges?
I often remark to family, friends, and mentors that I truly have no idea where I would be without CTSBDC and Mary Kay. I can track back so much of what we've been able to accomplish so far to CTSBDC; whether it was getting accepted to UConn's CCEI Summer Fellowship Program based on Mary Kay's urging me to apply and subsequently becoming a finalist in their Wolff New Venture Competition, to having CTSBDC as a resource for any of my questions on running a business in Connecticut. This has been an indispensable resource and support in the very nebulous world of startups and small businesses.
What 2-3 things have you learned or changed since working with CTSBDC?
It's so hard to quantify all that CTSBDC has taught me, because truly it's so much. I've learned about the pros and cons of different entity types, the formalities of running a business in the state, the opportunities for grants and support...the list goes on. From the fundamentals of setting up my business to seeking support on more complex issues and topics, CTSBDC has been there to guide me.
How is your business doing now? What does your future look like?
We are currently pre-launch, and will be launching our brand on onewithswim.com later this year.
What was it like working with your advisor?
Mary Kay has been an absolutely integral part of not only the formation of onewith, but also in me as a founder. I am forever grateful to her and her knowledge, expertise, wisdom, warmth, and guidance in this journey.
What words of advice would you give to small businesses looking to work with CTSBDC?
My words to fellow small business owners who are thinking of working SBDC would be that this is an absolutely unbelievable resource. The fact that I have received the amount of support and guidance through CTSBDC at no cost is incredible to me - and this is available to anyone with a business plan! The best advice I could give to another person with an idea - big or little - would be to get in touch with their local SBDC.
"It has been my honor and pleasure to work with Hayley. She came to the SBDC with both a mission and a dream, combined with unmatched determination and persistence. She envisioned a solution to a problem in women’s fashion that the larger industry players have yet to solve. With her passion for fashion and comfort, she and her product are the best solution to female confidence in swimwear. Hayley plans to take what is viewed as a luxury, stylish swimwear, and make it a necessity enjoyed by everyone. She is both a leader and strong communicator who displays the charisma needed to engage her audience. She is what I describe as a quadruple threat: a skilled entrepreneur, with a great product, a massive audience, and the ability to manage a viral social media campaign from day 1. I look forward to growing opportunities for Hayley, onewith, and her industry-defining product."
- Mary Kay Della Camera, CTSBDC Pre-Venture Team Lead