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Aussie startup swimming against the tide

Being diagnosed with melanomas at just 32 gave Queenslander Alyshia Morris the “fright of her life” – but also inspired her unique swimwear startup, Shade Swim.

Alyshia Morris

Alyshia Morris designed a sun safe and “confidence boosting” one piece, after being diagnosed with melanomas. Picture: Shade Swim

Morris, a mother of three, was “shaken to her absolute core” when diagnosed with two stage one melanomas in 2013, but had them successfully removed.

The scare – combined with her struggle to find a fashionable and flattering swimsuit for her post-baby body – motivated Morris to design a sun safe and “confidence boosting” one piece, which she launched in late 2018.

“As a teenager, I had to have the ‘perfect tan’ and sunned myself in the midday sun with oil and also used sunbeds. I am kicking myself every day now for not having listened to my mother about the importance of being sun safe. It’s something I am now passionate about and educating my children about,” Morris says.

That sun smart ethos is at the very heart of the Shade Swim product; a $229 long-sleeved swimsuit rated UPF 50+ to keep wearers protected from the harsh Aussie sun. Made from premium Italian fabric, it features reinforced mesh and ruching on the front for a smoothing and tightening effect and comes in four colours, up to a size 18.

shade swim

Shad Swim comes in four colours, up to a size 18. Picture: Shade Swim

Five years after her diagnosis, Morris started work on a design she and other women would feel “beautiful, confident and feminine” in. It took nine months to get to market, via a sharp learning curve.

“It was and still is a steep learning curve some days; one step forward, five steps back. It’s a constant rollercoaster, but also extremely rewarding when you get positive feedback from customers and see women from all over Australia wearing Shade Swim,” she says.

Development involved extensive research and countless prototypes. “We perfected it with many rounds of sampling and lots of feedback from friends and family. I am a perfectionist, so I didn’t give the final go-ahead on the product until I was 100 per cent happy with it,” Morris, who had no prior experience in fashion or production, says.

The response since launching last October has been “amazing”, Morris says. “It has been nothing but positive, which I am so proud of!”

Morris is now working on a new range, which will launch in September and is also looking into wholesaling. The product is currently only available online.

shade swim

Development involved extensive research and countless prototypes. Picture: Shade Swim

Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is simple … stay the course.

“So many hours are involved in getting a business started; there is a lot of crying, laughter and wine involved! Don’t give up if you hit a road block. Take a step back and work your way around it. More often than not, this then turns out to be a better way forward in the long run.

“Also, always go with your gut instinct. If it doesn’t seem right, then don’t do it.”

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