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Swimwear that’s making waves

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Angel Burgess thought she was onto something with her Bermuda flag swimsuit, but had no idea if it would take off.

The Queen Street retailer mulled over a few ideas before it dawned on her: “No one's ever done a swimsuit.”

Months later, she'd found a sample she was happy with, but then doubt set in.

“I ordered 100 and I was like, ‘How am I going to sell 100 swimsuits?'” she remembers. “For a small-business owner, 100 of the same item is insane.”

She ended up ordering 200 more.

Her patented designs can be found at A2Z Fashions in red, white and two new Bermuda-themed designs.

A pink monokini features a gombey drawn by Mount St Agnes graduate Sophia Fortuna. A second is emblazoned with ‘“Straight Outta Bermy” — the style borrows from NWA's 80s album and the successful 2015 documentary of the same name.

“The straight outta anything has just gone crazy,” she said. “I won't repeat it, but the Bermuda and the Gombey will be something that I keep.

“Next year I'll add another thing. That's the goal — every year to have a new Bermuda swimsuit.”

Through customer demand, a Bermuda flag bikini will be available in October, in time for November's Jamrock and Ubersoca cruises.

“There's been such a high demand for it,” she said. “I've had calls. People have come in.

“I know Bermudians don't like to wear what everyone else is wearing, so I was really afraid. I didn't know people were going to embrace it in the way they have. Someone will send me a post of themselves in Mexico or somewhere wearing the swimsuit. It's a really good feeling that people have really embraced it and support it because it's not easy having your own business.”

Ms Burgess said she has always loved fashion, but signed up for cosmetology school instead.

“To be honest, I hated it,” she laughed. “But I loved the fashion side of it.”

She came back to Bermuda and worked at Butterfield Bank for nine years.

“I started off as a teller and then I worked my way up to administrator in corporate banking. I loved the girls that worked there, but the 9-5 behind a desk was never me,” she said.

“I knew that from day one. My husband was like ‘listen you gotta do something because you're just miserable'.”

In 2012 the opportunity came for a shop in St George's. Her husband insisted she take it.

She moved the boutique to Hamilton two years ago.

“I always wanted my own business; either a hair salon or a ladies boutique. And I just went for it.”

She took an online course to be a fashion consultant. After Cup Match she will head to England for three months “to get my feet wet”.

“I want to take A2Z to a different level,' she said.

She plans to travel to Spain and France to source interesting, one-of-a-kind pieces for her store.

“I'm going to put both my children in school, make some contacts, attend some fashion events. I'm just going to go for it,” she said, adding that the response to the suits brought her the necessary confidence.

“I was so scared. I'm a small business so I had to invest a lot of money and time, back and forth with different companies and samples. I remember the first time. I went to a county game and there was a girl getting her face painted, wearing my suit.

“It was crazy because I was thinking, that's my swimsuit. People are actually buying and wearing it and every time somebody buys one, I get that same feeling.”

Her concern is always whether an item will sell, or sit on the shelf.

“Every time you bring in a shipment, it's nerving. You're wondering what's going to sell and what's not. To have my design actually work, in Bermuda, it's an awesome feeling. I try to do something different. I don't want to do what everybody else is doing.”

Colourful visors, sunglasses, foot gems, dresses and rompers make up the store's inventory.

“When people are looking for something different, I want them to think of us. Something outside the box. We're trying to make it the one-stop boutique where you just come in and get everything — your accessories, your clothes, everything. That's the goal, to grow A2Z and be a ‘ladyboss' and to keep the swimsuits rolling.”

A2Z Fashions, 25 Queen Street.

Angel Burgess (Photograph by Nadia Hall)
Retailer, Angel Burgess, brings back popular Bermuda swimsuits and trunks (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Retailer, Angel Burgess, brings back popular Bermuda swimsuits and trunks (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Expanding range: one of the new Bermuda swimsuits, left, and already popular designs, above and right
Retailer, Angel Burgess, brings back popular Bermuda swimsuits and trunks (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Retailer, Angel Burgess, brings back popular Bermuda swimsuits and trunks (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Retailer, Angel Burgess, brings back popular Bermuda swimsuits and trunks (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Retailer, Angel Burgess, brings back popular Bermuda swimsuits and trunks (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Designs in demand: retailer Angel Burgess brings back her popular Bermuda swimsuits and trunks

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Published July 22, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated July 21, 2016 at 9:13 pm)

Swimwear that’s making waves

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