From science student to million-dollar swimwear star

Written on the 14 November 2019 by Laura Daquino

From science student to million-dollar swimwear star

It isn't often you hear of science students starting fashion businesses, but Ana Gavia thinks she owes an education in medicine to success in swimwear.

Gavia was studying a double major in Medical Biotechnology and Nutrition at Deakin University in Victoria before starting Pinkcolada in 2018.

The Startup winner at the Melbourne Young Entrepreneur Awards 2019 attributes the skyrocketing success of her business to a strong left brain/right brain connection.

Seeing more than 225 per cent growth in the last financial year, there really was no other way but for Gavia to defer her studies and throw everything into the business.

To Gavia, a woman of science, it was only logic.

"Having a background in science has been beneficial because the way it teaches you to think is very logical and methodical and you develop this problem-solving and critical thinking way of thinking which keeps you on track," Gavia tells Business News Australia.

"Often creatives just go along with their creativity when they would be better thinking logically. You are going to make a lot of mistakes. Science set me up to approach everything, including my business, like an experiment. It encourages me to step back and say, OK, from a financial and logical perspective, is this actually a good idea?"

Turns out that thought process truly is transferrable. Gavia now has a handful of employees helping grow the swimwear label into a global business.

In less than six months Pinkcolada reached a revenue goal of $1 million-plus and has expanded into several global markets with particular strength in the US.

Besides her methodical approach, Gavia is set apart by the fact she designs everything herself. There's a view that Pinkcolada is for the "free-spirited fashionista" with a case of wanderlust. Gavia carefully selects colour palettes each season that are inspired by exotic destinations all around the world.

Right now, she's finding herself increasingly caught between working in the business as well as on the business.

"The second half of this year has been crazy, to be honest, I'm just trying to figure out my role and figure out what I can delegate," says Gavia, who will be a finalist in the Australian Young Entrepreneur Awards 2019 this Saturday 16 November.

"I've come to the conclusion it's impossible to do everything by myself. I have staff but at the same time there are parts I don't want to let go of, so at the moment, it's just finding the right people to put in control. I've been working seven days a week since I started, literally haven't stopped."

Gavia counts her lucky blessings that she hasn't run into the challenges that many others do when dealing with overseas suppliers. The biggest challenge has been wearing all the hats.

She's also thankful for her upbringing. Raised by immigrant parents from Macedonia who didn't speak English until stepping foot on Australian soil, Gavia affectionately describes her parents as "very strict" but it was a "different kind of discipline" to what others may be familiar with.

"I was simply brought up to appreciate every little thing. For me to even have an option to start a business, I understand that a lot of people don't want to put in that effort, but I don't care to do something I enjoy. It's just about having appreciation of opportunities."

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