Little Silver mom Farley Boyle knows bathing suits.
"I'm a Florida girl," says the Sarasota native, surrounded by dozens of little bikini tops and bottoms scattered on her family room floor. "I grew up in flip flops and a bikini."
Boyle, who just launched her new line of swim wear for girls called Squirtini Bikini, is describing the natural progression she's made from those sandy beginnings to beach volleyball player turned swimwear model and now designer.
While playing volleyball in college, Boyle says the swim suit remained a staple of her wardrobe. Even then, she says, she looked for ways to express her individuality. "Your bathing suit is your calling card in a lot of ways."
She spent the next 20 years as a model doing editorial and catalog work, and says she often gravitated toward working with swim wear designers like Anne Cole, Speedo and Ralph Lauren.
When Boyle was pregnant with the oldest of her three daughters and vacationing in Tahiti, she says she couldn't resist buying the baby — even though she still didn't know what she was having — a teeny pink bikini, its bottom fringed with pale white shells.
Thus began Boyle's hunt for swim wear for her girls that helped define their own personal styles and weren't the same old Billabongs and Roxy that everyone else was wearing at the beach, she says. She brings out a pile of those old suits, which were handed down among the sisters, to show the attention to detail and the fabrication that made them unique and became the springboard for the Squirtini line.
Boyle says all of the pieces of the puzzle came together while sitting on the beach in Hawaii almost two years ago. She and her husband and three girls were on a New Years trip to the Big Island with another Little Silver family, when the two moms decided to sneak off to shop for new bathing suits.
They found a shop with racks of tops and bottoms, all in different colors and styles, that could be mixed and matched and allow the women to pick the most flattering sizes and styles for their bodies.
Sitting on the beach later, Boyle says she realized she wanted to translate her passion for swimwear into a business. She says she looked at her friend and said, "I'm doing this."
"And instead of talking about it," says Boyle, who partnered with old Florida friends, "I did it."
Styles from the Chapel Beach Collection are dubbed with one of her three girls' names and reflect their fashion preferences — the Chase B has a sporty halter top that accommodates her athletic side while the Abby has a classic triangle top that suits her wispy frame.
The 15 styles come in a variety of fabrications — from bold graphic designs to sea glass colored florals — from sizes 4-18.
Boyle says it was important to her to create designs she felt were age-appropriate, nixing a lot of the padding and "bling" found in other swimwear lines. "I want my 11-year-old to look like an 11-year-old," she says.
"I want them to be confident and comfortable in their own skin," she says of girls who wear her suits. "We're being true to what kids like and also what parents really like."
Do you have a similar story to tell? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and your business could be featured in an upcoming Next Chapter column on Patch.