She’s the young designer & director of a celebrity-loved brand who earns over $7M a year. Rebecca Klodinsky has built her multimillion-dollar business from the ground up – twice – having to first change from Frankie to Frankii Swim, and then from Frankii Swim to IIXIIST, a dual-relaunch that came down to an overly saturated market filled with brands that all sound the same.
However 2020 meant it was time to finally take the leap and embrace a new beginning. Enter: IIXIIST. She’s bold, she’s unique and she’s all you’ll need for summer.
What is your professional career to date?
I launched IIXIIST (then Frankie Swim) in December 2013. I was 24 years old and working in retail full-time, studying a double degree in forensic psychology - and was in a stage of my life most young adults are familiar with. I’d say my professional career started the day I pooled together my savings of $2000 and invested it into creating a line of bikinis that were built on quality at great prices. Fast-track seven years and hear I am.
When and why did you think it was necessary to rebrand from Frankii Swim to IIXIIST? And what were some of the challenges in doing so?
The decision to rebrand was not an easy one, nor my choice effectively. The swim industry is hugely oversaturated with brands that all sound the same, and over the past five years I had been in and out of lawyers’ offices, trying to do everything in my willpower to keep my beloved Frankii as she was. However, it got to the point where enough was enough; it was time to take the leap and change the brand name to something unique and bold that stood out on her own. So, I said goodbye to Frankii Swim, and hello to IIXIIST.
The biggest challenge I faced in the rebrand is that it was swiftly followed by Coronavirus, which is quite bittersweet really, being overshadowed by a global pandemic. It’s only been in the past month or so that I commenced making some noise and announcing the rebrand, as for the most part it was the last thing on anybody’s mind. In saying that, the change has been extremely well received. I am very fortunate to have an incredibly loyal customer base and following, they’ve had my back through it all!
Spending my high school years and early adulthood on the Gold Coast very much instilled the Aussie beach culture; sun, sand and sea, which undoubtedly influenced my love for swimwear.
However, it was logic as much as it was passion. There was a gap in the women’s swim market pre-IIXIIST and I was fortunate to discover it very early on. I was at home with my sister, watching as she tried on a swimsuit she had just picked up off layby after weeks of saving up, and that’s when it hit me. Surely my sister wasn’t alone, there must have been thousands of other girls who were faced with a hefty price tag when shopping for quality, and I was right. IIXIIST was the first of its kind, great swim at happy prices.
What do you most enjoy about the work that you do?
Everything! I eat, sleep and breath work, which I think is imperative if you’re a business owner. Being so young when I started and growing it into the powerhouse it is today wouldn’t have been possible if my approach was any different… and it’s definitely paid off!
I’m extremely fortunate to have flexibility in how I work now, which is what I enjoy most. Being able to work remotely and spend every day with my son; it doesn’t get much better than that.
How has the pandemic impacted your business and what strategies did you have to take to adjust?
IIXIIST is 100% an e-commerce brand selling only via iixiist.com. This has meant I’ve been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to sit tight and ride it through, unlike the countless brands who have been forced to close their doors, which has been heartbreaking to see.
In terms of adjusting, I made the strategic decision to use this lockdown as down-time, temporarily relieving the business of it’s many moving parts; some employees are on annual leave, digital advertising campaigns cancelled and plans on hold. I was an early adopter in making the adjustments, which prepared me for when it really hit.
No brick and mortar doorways have worked to my advantage. While web sales somewhat slowed, the COVID-19 crisis remains manageable. My team and I remain working from home and have been focusing our efforts on what will happen when we come out of this.
What advice do you have for businesses who are being challenged by the pandemic? What should they be focusing more on?
My advice is to pause and reassess everything; outgoings, overhead costs, structure, processes, staffing, strategy. Simplify everything, be meticulous with financials… better yet, just try not to spend. Above all, be human. Be honest, be thoughtful, be transparent. People don’t need to be sold to right now, people need people.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?
Count your pennies and the dollars will look after themselves – My Dad
And it’s true, look after the little things, keep a tight grip, don’t go over budgets or overspend. I keep two fingers on my company’s financial pulse at all times and this advice is especially relative when you’re on an upward trajectory, it’s easy to get lost – I’ve seen this happen to far too many people.
What has been one of your career highlights?
The celebrity customers are probably the biggest pinch-me-moments. We’ve had Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Hailey Bieber and Rihanna to name a few. The fact they’re all organic relationships as opposed to paid are a stamp of approval too, particularly in the Instagram age where the power of celebrity has the ability to slingshot your brand to stardom overnight, not to mention the effect on sales.
How do you deal/manage the daily stresses of life and work?
As I’ve gotten older my answer to this question has definitely changed. Now it’s plain and simple: family. Not a stress in the world can affect me when I’m curled up on the couch with my son. The world we live in now is frantic, demands are high and it doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon. At the end of the day I’m just selling bikinis, ensuring my mental health is intact and I am grounded beats this tenfold!
Finally, what’s next for you and IIXIIST?
I have JUST launched a brand extension, which I worked on while locked-down inside an AFL isolation hub with my partner, Lachie Henderson, who plays for the Geelong Cats. IIXIIST Loungewear is produced in responsible quantities with 100% sustainable materials, we’re also manufacturing locally right here in Australia in child-free labour conditions… all of the IMPORTANT THINGS. The Loungewear range is not just another Instagram brand; it’s built on quality and is responsible with an ethical standpoint. You can check the range out here.