This Entrepreneur Spotlight, we are talking to Olivia Fabian, of OFabz Swimwear. Let me just warn you, before you check out the site, OFabz has the most adorable retro-style swimwear you will ever see. I immediately wanted everything. All of it. With a beautiful website offering buyers a chance to shop online, and then by participating in pop-up shops around the city (we love those), OFabz is definitely making its mark. Summer is coming, and this swimwear is something you want to check out.
What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana?
OFabz won a business plan competition through Ivy Tech and the NIIC (Northeast Indiana Innovation Center) back in 2011 that kicked things off for the business. Once we got started and realized how supportive and enthusiastic the northeast Indiana community was, we knew it was the right place for us.
What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community?
The community has really supported us in ways we could have never imagined. We had no expectation of the level of coverage in the media we would get and are blown away that people in our community recognize the business name. We sort of thought we would just sell swimsuits to boutiques in warmer climates and no one in Fort Wayne would know about us… but we were totally wrong. Support from local businesses like One Lucky Guitar for branding; COYA for web development; and fabric, notions, and sewing experts at Avant Guard really gave us a huge step up. Places like the NIIC and Score were immensely helpful too but the game-changing advice often came from people who were also entrepreneurs and were willing to share their scrappy secrets that taught us some not-so-standard SOPs.
What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business?
The biggest challenge for us has been manufacturing. We have struggled to find quality swimwear manufacturing facilities domestically. Swimsuits are sort of a feat of engineering and art so finding the right person to make it is key, and finding someone you can count on is the challenge.
What person has helped you the most in your journey?
My mom Cheryl and I run the company together – 50/50. We’re in it together. She says we’ve been in business together since I was a toddler and I think there is probably a lot of truth to that. She is the creative mastermind behind everything. The business (or I) wouldn’t be anywhere without her.
What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs?
You need to be willing to just jump in and try things. I think it is easy to get caught up in research and asking people for mentoring and guidance, but sometimes you just need to get things rolling.
What would be the best thing Fort Wayne could do for entrepreneurs in your opinion?
I think we have so many great resources for entrepreneurs at all stages that are so valuable. I think the best thing that Fort Wayne can do is to continue to rally around local businesses as our city experiences this whirlwind of growth and change.
As the city grows, we need to remember that the reason Fort Wayne is great is, because it’s full of people who are willing to jump in and make things happen and who are supportive of new weird things.
This post is part of a series of posts in collaboration with Start Fort Wayne where Living Fort Wayne explores resources available to entrepreneurs and spotlights entrepreneurs who decided northeast Indiana is the place to operate their businesses.