What happens when a college student saves up her babysitting money to start a bikini brand featuring cheeky Hawaiian style bikinis? You get Midori Bikinis!! This female-owned, ethically-conscious swimwear brand is committed to responsible manufacturing techniques and timeless styles.
Midori Bikinis began in a college dorm room and was one of the first bikini brands to embrace Instagram. Rachel later grew her online store to a 7-figure business that sells worldwide.
Learn how Rachel finds self-care through nature and animals, her confidence building secret, and how she balances being a mother and wife all while running a successful bikini brand with a 250K+ Instagram following.
As told to Ashley Johnson and Maddison Niebling
How did Midori Bikinis come to life?
During the summer after my freshman year at college, my boyfriend invited me to visit him on O’ahu. He told me not to buy any bikinis because Hawai’i had their own style. I didn’t think I liked that style because it was really cheeky so I loaded up my suitcase with swimsuits I had bought in California. The first week there, he was right my suits looked different from everyone else’s and we went into a small bikini shop in Waikiki and I was like, you know, I'm going to try some cheeky bikinis and I ended up loving them! At the end of the summer, I went back to start my sophomore year of college and decided to start a swimwear line to bring those cheeky Hawaiian styles to California.
I basically funded it with my babysitting money and ran it totally out of my dorm room and word kind of spread on campus. I literally had a cute old suitcase that I would sell out of. The college I went to is on the water so we were always at the beach and girls would just come to my room, shop, try stuff on, and check out, which was amazing. At the point that I began Midori, Instagram was just debuting. Other than Acacia and Mikoh, I don't remember seeing other swimwear brands out there so we were one of the first behind them to get on Instagram. Our following really grew right from the get-go and Midori grew largely through word of mouth and Instagram.
What strategies do you use to build confidence in yourself and support yourself through challenging situations?
So as far as supporting myself through challenging situations, my biggest thing from the get-go has just been maintaining transparency, particularly with our customers. The other thing I do is I try to always move one step at a time. Even when things are really tough and I'm really busy. I think moving one step forward just continues that forward progress. I really try to draw my confidence just from my inner being and something I say a lot is “just head held high and go get it”. I think a lot of what we exude on the outside makes our inside stronger so if I walk around with my shoulders back, my head held high, even if I might feel weak inside, I'm feeling strong on the outside, and in turn, I begin to feel stronger all around.
How do you manage stress and provide yourself with self-care?
I think self-care is so important and I have always had an immense love for horses. A few years ago, I purchased a horse with my husband and I go see her every day and I try to ride every day. But when I can't, I'll just sit there and groom her to be outside in nature. I try and really pay attention to my surroundings, the birds chirping, coyotes, and just being with her and kind of letting go and getting away. I usually enjoy doing that alone so that's kind of my alone time. It’s my kind of meditation. I have a hard time sitting in a room meditating with so much going on. However, when I get out on her, I'm not thinking about anything so my horse is definitely my getaway. In addition to that, self-care. I go to the chiropractor regularly and my mom is a massage therapist so massage is my self-care too.
What specific practice do you do to stay focused on your goals, to help your team to stay focused on your goals and move forward each day towards achieving them? Is there something you do daily, weekly or monthly to stay organized and on track? A tip or practice you could share with others that would be helpful to them?
I enjoy making a daily list and handwriting it the night before. Handwriting something out versus writing it on the computer is just more tangible for me and I feel better when I actually tangibly cross it out. I like creating flexible goals that aren't static just because a lot of things around tend to change. I know that my surroundings aren't always reliable and I try to create goals that can be flexible around the things that do change. I also create realistic expectations, again, just taking into account that things could come up that aren’t under my control. But instead of focusing on what I can't control, I try to just refocus on what I can control and perfect it.
How do you manage grocery shopping, child care, cooking, and cleaning chores while running your own business? What tips or strategies can you share with other women who are struggling to do both?
I'm a perfectionist, and I'm pretty OCD about cleaning. I really believe that a clean environment is like an uncluttered mind. I make it a habit to not allowing things to pile up to the point where I'm gonna have to spend two hours folding laundry because I haven't done it in a week. My husband usually takes my daughter to the beach in the mornings while I jam through emails and make sure social media platforms are running smoothly. We spend the rest of the day together until she goes to bed at 7 then I get back to work until I've finished my responsibilities for the day.
What decision process helps you most to balance work demands with having healthy relationships? How do you know when to stop working and focus on your loved ones?
I set aside a particular period of time to work and once that time is up I physically put away anything associated with work so I'm not tempted to hop back on my computer for “one last thing." Many times I leave my phone at home through the day and catch up on calls and texts later. Being fully present with those I am with is always a priority and I never want my attention divided. It's important to me that I'm not divided between what I'm trying to get done and being with my family.
Tell me about a time in your business where you failed and how did you move forward from the situation?
After graduating from Point Loma, I got my MBA while continuing to run Midori. I remember discussing failure in one of my classes and realizing that I don't personally believe in failure. There's a really great quote by Thomas Edison that says “I have not failed, I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work.” It's kind of a parallel, but for me, it's allowed me to pick back up and throw my full passion into making something work when one door closes.
With horses, it's called a 'pivot;' to rotate or spin- in basketball a pivot is done to protect the ball. In business, it's done to protect a dream or idea.
I'm confident the times I've come through on the upside of a situation that couldn't have turned out far worse was due to being perpetually flexible.
In 2017 I tried to move manufacturing to the U.S. The quality of pieces did not meet Midori’s quality standards, the fabric literally faded with one use. Because I was committed to transparency, I told everyone exactly what was happening and worked quickly to fix the issue. We lost half a million dollars trying to bring jobs stateside but the way I handled the situation built relationships *based on trust* with our customers that continue to this day.
What are your favorite pair of Mohala shades and how would you style them?
I absolutely love the Keana in fireside tortoise. I think those are so cool. They have more coverage to protect my eyes when I'm outdoors and being active but also pair well for spa days when I'm in resort wear. I'm always excited about an accessory that can be dressed up or dressed down.