Alumna Hayley Segar ’17 (CLAS) is launching her own women’s swimwear company today, with hopes that her patent-pending designs, featuring comfortable and flattering styles, will revolutionize the fashion industry.
“This truly is a swimsuit like no other,’’ says Segar, 26. “It feels different, it’s completely seamless, and doesn’t dig in to the skin. It offers a super-flattering look.’’
When she first came up with the idea, she conducted research to confirm that she had created something unique, and then made her own prototypes to verify that the designs could be viable and attractive, without elastic and tight seams.
“When I tried them on myself, I never felt better,’’ she says. “I knew I had something!’’
Her swimsuit company, called ‘onewith,’ reflects both her experience working in fashion, and her lifelong goal to be an entrepreneur, which began with her own YouTube channel at age 12.
“I always knew, from the time I was a little girl, that I would start a company,’’ she has said. “I didn’t know what it would be, but I felt I was on a path to build something of my own.’’
She describes her startup as a “very UConn-fueled company,’’ as her mentors at the University have helped with everything from marketing and presentation to creating accessories and securing trademarks.
“The digital age presents opportunities in an expansive landscape where female entrepreneurs can be seen and heard as never before,’’ she says. “UConn helped me find my strength as an entrepreneur.’’
Swimwear Pays Tribute to New England
Segar, a New London native, chose to pay tribute to some of her favorite places in New England as a means of distinguishing her line.
Her swimwear styles include Compo and Guthrie, named after beaches in Westport and New London; Hyannis, reflecting its Cape Cod namesake; and Breakers and Westerly, tributes to spots in Rhode Island. One of her color choices is Ivy, because it reminds her of Yale.
“The point is to resonate with people and show them my New England roots and how I see the Northeast in general,’’ she says. “What if we celebrate our area right here and glamorize this part of the country?’’
The ‘onewith’ line offers eight styles, including two one-piece suits. The other pieces mix and match for fit, with sizes from XS to XXXL. All pieces sell for less than $100 each. The line also includes accessories, such as postcard bracelets, towels, and barrettes. All purchases are made through the site at www.onewithswim.com, although Segar is already getting wholesale inquiries.
“Our theme is celebrating where we are now, whether planning big trips or attending a party or event where there may be a hot tub this winter,’’ she says. The November release will allow her to capture both the holiday market and the resort-wear shoppers.
Startup Benefited from UConn Advice
Segar, a social media influencer with more than 100,000 followers across her accounts, earned her bachelor’s degree in English from UConn in 2017.
In 2020, she completed the invitation-only Summer Fellowship entrepreneurial bootcamp offered by the School of Business’ Connecticut Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Segar went on to become one of the participants in the Wolff New Venture Competition, the School’s pinnacle entrepreneurship challenge.
Among many lessons, her mentors taught her how to explain the novelty of her design.
“CCEI taught me how to explain my business to the masses, including to men, because they really don’t understand the struggle that women experience when looking for a swimsuit,’’ she says. “I learned to break it down so they understand that women search for swimwear that’s flattering and comfortable, that doesn’t pinch and that’s free of lumps and bumps. I wanted them to understand there was a real need in the marketplace.’’
During the next year, Segar will focus on expanding her line, creating pop-up shops in key locations, and continue to seek new customers. She even has her grandmother, whom she also credits for her inspiration, helping her package the merchandise.
“I’m incredibly excited. It feels unreal,’’ Segar says. “The nerves are also unreal!’’