Laid-off mother starts successful bathing suit design business

Bathing suits designed by Leslie Davis of Lexington
Bathing suits designed by Leslie Davis of Lexington

LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - The spare bedroom at Leslie Davis' Lexington home is filled with the stuff her dreams are made of: three industrial sewing machines, shelves full of material and several finished products.

"When I do something I do it just whole heartedly," said Leslie Davis. "With a lot of passion, I do my best."

That passion combined with an eye for design helped Davis start Azure Swimwear.

She decided to go for it when the recession ended her work-at-home data entry job in 2009.

"It was just me, my sewing machine, my patterns and a little bit of fabric I got from the store," she said.

What started as a $20,000 investment is now a growing bikini business.

"One person got a swimsuit and then they tell a bunch of people or they go wear it and the next thing you know we have people calling in and we love that," said Davis.

And from word of mouth and the wonder of wear, this stay-at-home mother of two wanted to see if her suits could have a bigger reach.

So she repeatedly called and e-mailed Sports Illustrated. In February the magazine chose two of her swimsuits for it's online edition.

"Then the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders actually saw our line from Sports Illustrated and they sent us an email saying 'we love your stuff please send us some stuff for our calendar and magazine,'" said Davis.

As her business grows, Davis is always working to make sure her creations are quality.  While balancing her newfound success with the joys of raising a family.

"I try to work around the kids, because I definitely want to be here for them," said Davis. "So I have to make sure they get their time. So I try."

Davis does most of the work by herself. But occasionally she hires additional workers to help.

She's also working with a South Carolina-based manufacturer who will soon be producing her designs.

Her suits cost between $160 and $265.

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