Making a splash
Growing up in Dallas, where she spent summers at the University Park Elementary School pool, Hartley Lynn basically lived in a swimsuit. As she grew older, she continued spending summers in the sun and in the pool, but she could never find well-fitting swimsuits that made her feel confident, fun, and feminine.
So Lynn, now 31, a Highland Park High School and TCU graduate, took it upon herself to create form-flattering swimwear for women like her. Her new brand, SABAL, launched August 22 and is aimed at women with smaller chests, from AA to C cups.
SABAL currently consists of two bikini top styles and two bottom piece styles, plus one style of one-pieces. The company also sells swim cover-ups, scrunchies, hair clips, sunscreen, and sheet masks. Prices range from $30 to $98.
As a self-proclaimed member of the “Itty Bitty Titty Committee,” Lynn wanted to design swimsuits that wouldn’t “fake it” but simply enhance what she had without lumpy padding or inserts. Lynn says she shopped everywhere looking for the perfect fit and found a gap in the market for swimwear designed for small-chested women. There were so many brands for full busts, but none for the opposite side of the spectrum.
“I just never found bikinis that were made for me,” she says. “They were either too big, awkwardly fitting, too much padding, or just straight up unflattering.”
Before starting SABAL, Lynn considered “going under the knife” to enhance her bust, she says, but she decided she didn’t want to alter her natural body. She simply wanted swimsuits that would make her feel good about herself.
SABAL uses custom, waterproof silicone inserts to create a pushup feel without acting like a typical pushup top. Most pushups that swimsuits lose shape or become lumpy when they leave the water, but SABAL swimsuits are specially designed to retain their shape and feel in and out of the water, Lynn says.
“I really just want our customers to feel comfortable in their own skin,” Lynn says. “If [SABAL] can help any one person feel that way, then I will feel great at night going to bed.”
As for the brand’s name, Lynn says she named the line after the “small but mighty” Sabal palm tree. The first plant she and her husband planted in their Dallas home was a Sabal palm because she wanted a constant reminder of her happy place, the beach. When creating SABAL, she wanted the brand to remind customers of a happy, warm and sunny place.
Lynn says the company planned to launch at the beginning of the summer, not at the end, but she wanted to make sure she perfected the brand before launching. But she feels confident despite the late summer launch. The designer says she has already seen repeat customers in the first week of business and feels encouraged by the sales so far.
In the future, SABAL may branch into women’s active wear and lingerie, Lynn says. For now, the swimwear line is available online only, but Lynn hopes to eventually get the brand into local stores.