Jolyn Profile: Tanya Gandy
By Abby Pittman
April 14, 2015
The pool was in Stockton, but it might have been almost anywhere. The smell of chlorine permeated the air as wet and chlorine burned swimmers made their way around the many tubs of swimsuits that occupied a corner of the deck. Girls crouched and crowded around the most popular bins; Brazilian bottoms, large Tomcat tops, printed Onesies. A few girls were huddled near the Jolyn representative as they purchased suits, giggling and gossiping and sharing anecdotes about swimming. This event, called a trunk show, happens all over the U.S., and now, all over the world.
The Jolyn Swim Suit Company is a small, San Diego based company that is slowly taking over the female aquatics world. With a cult like following of devoted athletes, Jolyn quickly grew with their unique version of marketing. The majority of their marketing is done by the customers themselves, and by word of mouth. Customers follow their multiple Instagram pages, subscribe to their email list, and regularly check their website. Jolyn has gained popularity because they are a body forward company that offers a type of suit that no one else does.
Tanya Gandy was not on deck that day, but Norcal representatives that she had trained were. Gandy is Jolyn’s sales and operations manager; she has been with the company before it took off. She has now been working to build Jolyn for three and a half years, and while the company has grown her job has too.
Like most of Jolyn’s employees, Gandy has been immersed in the aquatics world her whole life. She is the personification of a Jolyn employee; an accomplished athlete and an awesomely cool and nice person, she has worked hard to see this company grow and she values the mission that the company represents.
She grew up in San Diego and began playing Water Polo in the 8th grade. The sport would carry her throughout all of high school and college and even beyond that. Gandy played water polo for UCLA from 2006-2009, when she was picked up for the USA National Team from 2009-2013. She has won four NCAA championships, 2 NCAA player of the year awards and she holds the single season scoring record for the Bruins. She also has won 2 World League titles and a World Championship with team USA. “I had so much fun, and I’m so grateful for the experience, it was great to be able to represent my country in this way,” Gandy said. It was these experiences that led Gandy to her career at Jolyn.
It was a natural fit for Gandy to become a manager of a swimsuit company; “I would have the flexibility to travel and build my own business. With a start up you can see your efforts first hand. I knew I was good at networking and I believe fully in the product,” Gandy explained. “It was amazing how well the suits held up in practice. When you put it on there’s no other suit that makes you feel the same way a Jolyn does. Plus everything about the company is fun. Who wouldn’t want to talk to athletes about fashion all day and design/sell what you live in year round.”
Because of this vast experience and the contacts she was able to make and the passion she has for the product, she was the perfect person for the job; together her and CEO Warren started up the company.
“I called up our CEO Warren and set up a lunch meeting. We talked about his goals for the company and I pitched my sales/networking capabilities. Little by little I started selling to friends and teams all over California and hitting up old clubs I played for, college coaches I knew, friends of friends, and any fit social butterfly I would find on a beach or pool deck,” Gandy explained. The contacts she had made from her many years immersed in the aquatics world completely paid off, and her efforts, along with her colleagues, is what helped Jolyn continually grow. “It was just warren and I. We spent hours on the phone and countless hours working on projects to get things done. Running a business comes with many, many obstacles. But overcoming them and staying true to who we are sets us apart.”
The Jolyn swimsuit company started out with just one man going to a pool, asking a girl to try on what would be the company’s signature top. With a few key people, this small, Southern California based company grew swiftly and began permeating every pool deck until it became impossible to avoid. “It took him three years to come up with the perfect suit and we are still working on improving them. He drove to various places all over California trying to sell them and finally the brand started to grow,” Gandy said. “Now you can’t walk on a pool deck without seeing a Jolyn,” Gandy laughs. “Every time I’m traveling and see someone in a Jolyn suit, I get this incredible feeling of satisfaction knowing that this small company out of San Diego, CA is not only making an impact of women’s sports worldwide but also giving women and young girls the confidence to look good and stay active.”
Indeed, it’s all been kind of word of mouth- a cult fascination, passed on my devoted swimmers. Jolyn advertising is done primarily by the customers themselves; girls (and sometimes guys) wearing the suits send in submissions of themselves loving life and staying fit in their Jolyn’s, where they are reposted by the Jolyn official Instagram page. The Jolyn model- of being cute while serving athletes has hit a nerve, perhaps becoming the Lululemon of the aquatics world; yet it’s important to note that it’s a company that takes women’s aspirations seriously, and lets women feel attractive while being high performing athletes in the water; “We market to the fit female. We encourage an active lifestyle and a vibe that’s beachy, adventurous and fun!” Gandy exclaimed. In the past, there has not been a bikini product that is both utilitarian as well as fashionable: Jolyn fills that niche. Big swim companies such as Speedo and Nike have come out with two pieces before, and still are, but they do not hold a candle to the Jolyn suits. These other two pieces can be described as just workout suits.
“I like that you could be able to work out in these suits, and still look hot,” Gandy explained when asked what made her fall in love with Jolyn suits. Gandy adds that what is really important to the company, and the representatives the work for the company, is positive body image; “the girls that wear these suits in our ads are athletic; they are not super skinny, and not really big either. They are healthy athletic girls,” she says.
And in fact, to address different body types and preferences in customers, over the years Jolyn has expanded their product line. At first, Jolyn had three key items, Brazilian bottoms, triangle tops and vent tops. What made their suits so useful was that both the tops and the bottoms were completely adjustable and could be tied to fit each unique body. Their tie back top is now the company’s signature: though they have expanded to fixed back tops as well. Since then, their product line has expanded to the cheekiest bottom possible (so far) titled the Cheeky bottoms, to a fuller cut onesie designed for master swimmers- a look that might be flattering to anyone wanting more coverage.
In fact, trunk shows like the one I visited in Stockton are slowly popping up all over America, thanks to Gandy’s hard work. Currently, her goal for the company is to get as many new reps out there as possible. The company has shows happening all over California, Hawaii, Canada, Florida, Pennsylvania and Australia. According to their official Instagram page, @JOLYNCLOTHING, they have just added a new representative in Texas. Gandy would like to add as many reps as possible including more reps all over the U.S. and Europe.
“Everyone here at the company is happy, it’s a very positive environment.” Jolyn and Tanya herself, is all about good vibes and awesome suits which is seen in their vast customer base around the world.