Well, ladies, swimsuit season is back. While the thought of shedding our Santa Barbaran winter coats may be intimidating to some, a visit to the Bikini Factory’s beachy swimsuit paradise makes the transition into bikini season more fun than ever expected. A stop at the Bikini Factory feels remarkably similar to a visit with a close girlfriend rather than a trip to your usual swimsuit store.
Half doors invite you into a homey space, where colorful swimsuits adorn the walls and a children’s toy box sits in the far left corner. A staff of young women wait to accompany you patiently through the search for the perfect swimsuit.
Empowering signs hang beside each dressing room mirror, reminding all women: “The first rule in body appreciation is not to knock it! Do not stand in front of the mirror berating the bad points. Do stand in front of the mirror praising the good parts.”
“That’s our motto,” explains store owner Linda Meyer, who manages the business with an effortless authority. Fifty-two years after its founding in 1965, the store still teems with the strong feminine energy that had inspired the founding of the Bikini Factory in the midst of second-wave feminism. The late store founder Sally Yater had hired Meyer on July 5, 1975, when Fourth of July festivities left most of her staff bedridden. Meyer was only 21 at the time, and she looked up to Yater as not only a female boss but also a mentor.
Now at the age of 63, Meyer perpetuates the store’s transgenerational legacy. “I like to hire girls whose mothers I know. If the girls are close to their mothers, I can trust that they’ll understand how to communicate with women of different age groups,” she says.
When asked to disclose her secret to the Bikini Factory’s decades of unrivaled success as Santa Barbara’s Best Swimwear Store, according to this paper’s Best of Santa Barbara® Readers’ Poll, Meyer puts it simply: exceptional customer service and a genuine understanding of women.
The Bikini Factory covers the gamut, fitting women of all ages with their ideal swimsuits. In addition to a wide in-store selection, customers are given the option to custom design their own swimwear to fit their unique needs and preferences.
“It still feels really good when I can help every woman find a swimsuit she truly feels comfortable and confident in,” Meyer admits with a warm smile.
The Bikini Factory is at 2275 Ortega Hill Road, Suite B, Summerland. For more information, call (805) 969-2887 or visit bikinifactory.com.