Business accelerator helps swimwear company


SAN DIEGO – It’s a universal truth that shopping for swimwear can be super daunting. Syncletica Maestas grew up going to the beaches of San Diego, fighting that feeling.

What do you want to know

  • CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center is San Diego’s only business accelerator targeting low to moderate income founders
  • Hola Swim is the only known Chicana-owned swimwear company in the country
  • Hola Swim says they’re the neighborhood’s friendly swimwear store, with inclusive styles, sizes and patterns
  • Fifty-two budding entrepreneurs have graduated from the CAJC since its creation in 2018

“My business partner and I grew up going to the beach and we both wore t-shirts over our bathing suits,” Maestas said. “We just felt like they didn’t fit well or they didn’t cover what we wanted to cover or they just weren’t our style, so you’d be wearing a Speedo and you were like ‘ ah i don’t want to wear that’ so i just wear a nice t-shirt like New Kids on the Block or something like that.

Her search to find something she felt comfortable in led her, along with her friend Aida Soria, to create Hola Swim, the only known Chicana swimwear company in America.

They both grew up in southeast San Diego, where the population is largely a minority, living at or below the poverty line. Maestas thought his neighborhood was the perfect place to open a shop.

“People were like ‘oh, you’re a swimsuit store in Barrio Logan’ and we’re like why not!” said Maestas. “We have customers so excited that we’re here in a neighborhood where they felt comfortable shopping.”

Their mission to provide more affordable and inclusive swimwear, however, almost didn’t happen. Maestas and Soria signed up for CONNECT ALL at the Jacobs CenterSan Diego’s only business accelerator program that targets low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs.

“Before entering the program, I wanted to quit because it was overwhelming,” Maestas said.

Alex Waters has helped dozens of businesses work with mentors and attend weekly workshops that cover everything from financial planning to marketing. He is Director of Economic Development and Innovation at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.

“[Hola Swim was] very, very inclusive,” Waters said. “Making sure they are represented in fashion, working with their swimwear and clothing lines, but then for all body types.”

The free four-month program culminates in a pitch competition, where three winners receive grants to further their business. Waters believes that this kind of help allows everyone to have the same opportunities to develop their ideas.

“[Maestas and Soria are] well on their way to quite building the Hola Swim empire, so we’re really excited about that,” Waters said.

Maestas said every time a customer tries on one of his suits, it reminds him why he fought so hard to grow up.

“They’ll say ‘hey look at me’ and they’ll turn around and say ‘my butt looks good’, you know, and that’s like a win for us,” she said. “They’re coming out and they’re so confident.”

Keeping the flavor of community alive with every swimsuit – proving a little heart and ambition can be a powerful combination.


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