The turmoil over the Sydney couple’s Kulani Kinis swimwear side brings in more than $ 20 million in a year


A young couple from Sydney started a side project for fun, but it quickly earned them more than their monthly salary in one day.

A Sydney couple stumbled upon such a lucrative side business that they are now expected to have a turnover of $ 20 million by the end of the year.

Danielle Atkins and Alex Babich, both 35, felt trapped in the corporate grind from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and decided to start their own swimwear brand to have a little fun.

They launched Kulani Kinis, which specializes in patterned bikinis, and prepared orders and processed customer requests in their free time after long working days.

Fast forward six years and the couple, who have since married and had a child, quit their old jobs and become the brand’s multimillionaires.

“We both worked full time in roles… Our weeks were the same, our years were the same. It was like you could go on with this life indefinitely, ”Mr. Babich, a former EY accountant, told news.com.au.

Ms Atkins, a former psychologist, said she had worked in the “sharp point” of acute mental health care for eight years and that most of her colleagues were “not going the distance” because they had fallen to it. part-time. job.

She was looking for a new passion project and knew she had found it when she had a “disappointing” experience while vacationing in Hawaii.

The South Sydney couple met when they were just 23 and had an annual tradition of going to Hawaii for a much-needed break.

In 2014, they were gone like every other year, but something stands out in Ms. Atkins’ memory.

“In 2014, it was unusual to buy a swimsuit online, but because of the work, I was short of time. [so I did], she recalls.

“When we got to the vacation spot, I tried [the swimsuit] and I was a little disappointed.

Thinking there had to be something better, Ms Atkins figured she would try to launch her own brand of swimwear.

“I’m going to be really honest, Dani had the spark for the idea,” her husband said today with a laugh.

“I was like ‘Who wants to buy bikinis online?’ She thought it might be a good side activity.

It ended up going way beyond a sideways bustle.

In its first year, the online fashion brand earned $ 250,000. Last year, that number had risen to $ 9.2 million.

And by the end of this fiscal year, they will have reached $ 20 million in revenue.

“It’s kind of crazy how well we’ve done,” Babich said.

Ms. Atkins attributes their success to the fact that “a lot of people are starting it [a business] to succeed. When we started, there was no pressure.

The $ 10,000 that Ms. Atkins and Mr. Babich usually set aside for their annual vacation was spent on starting the business.

After researching e-commerce, which was a “new phenomenon” at the time, Ms. Atkins chose Alibaba as her manufacturer.

They also hired designers to create unique prints for the swimwear.

In one evening, the then psychologist created the website from scratch.

In February of the following year, 2015, Kulani Kinis was born.

“It was a real humble start,” Babich recalled.

“Dani would finish her shift in the hospital, I would come home at 6:30 pm and help her.”

After three months of that, Ms Atkins gave up part-time work. At nine months old, she quit her job to work full time on the brand.

“If you start an online store, it’s like having a store in the middle of the desert. You have to make people find you, ”Babich warned.

He had harassed his boss to move him to an EY branch in the United States because “the scope and the opportunities there are so much greater.”

Her wish was finally granted later in September when they were able to move to Los Angeles.

Ms Atkins called LA’s first few months her “bikini bubble” because she had no choice but to occupy her time with the booming side bustle.

“Alex worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week because the work culture is crazy there,” she explained.

“I was not allowed to practice psychology [because the US requires different qualifications], I didn’t know anyone, so I called it a bikini bubble. I was able to have this concentration.

She wrote orders by hand in their small studio while her partner delivered them from EY’s mail room.

Mr. Babich recalls a time when he wondered why he was working full time.

“There were days when I was sitting at my work and watching the daily sales that exceeded my monthly income,” he said. “I was sitting there thinking, ‘When should I go?’.”

They invested the money they had to attend trade shows, where brands like theirs can show their products to major retailers.

Entrepreneurs have been fortunate enough to secure a number of big deals with big wholesalers around the world including the United States, Canada and even Tahiti and the Caribbean.

Major brands they’re currently stocked in include Bikini Village, ASOS, Zumiez, Tilley, and Ron Jon Surf Shop.

They have worked with Forever 21 before and their very first bulk order was placed through a subsidiary of Billabong.

Over 80 percent of their customers come from the United States after visiting Los Angeles. The couple have since returned to southern Sydney where they live with their toddler, Hendrix.

Ms Atkins said “persistence and a pinch of luck” was how they ended up where they are today.

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