Brazil Swimming Champion Makes Splash in Design World
To say Fabiola Molina is well known in Brazil is an understatement. She is a swimming legend.
- 110 gold medals at the Brazilian Championships.
- 5 Medals at the Pan Am Games.
- 49 Medals in the World Cups, 13 of them gold.
- Sydney Games in 2000.
- Bejing Games in 2008.
- London Games in 2012.
“People think everything comes easy but that’s not true. It’s a lot of hard work and persistence. You always have to try harder, to be resilient,” says Molina.
She pauses, smiles and adds, “but I was also lucky to be born with a talent for swimming.”
Her humility is endearing, but Fabiola definitely has more than just luck on her side. She started swimming as a child and began competing at the international level in her early teens. She broke her first South American record when she was 18 and in the 22 years she was on the National team, she broke the South American record more than 50 times. As a sergeant in the Brazilian military, she won one gold and four silver medals at the 2011 Military Games.
“I didn’t set out to start a swimwear line, it just sort of happened.”
As a teen, Molina didn’t want to practice in her one-piece suit, then go to the beach on the weekend with a pale stomach. At that time there were no two piece swim suits that would hold up to rigorous swim practices, so she created the Sunkini.
“The design has thin straps and is thin on the sides. It resembles a bikini worn on the beach, but is also high quality material, stays on well and holds the water out during practice,” says Molina.
Fabiola’s bright colors and patterns also added variety to an otherwise dreary practice pool. “It was all about navy blue and black back then. We would practice daily so it’s understandable we didn’t want to wear the same thing every day.”
She made Sunkinis for herself and as other swimmers saw her at practice or at competitions, they asked her where to get them.
“My friends started wanting them so I made them. I’d make 20 and sell them, then another 20, and another. It was always 20 pieces every competition and they’d all get sold. This went on for years. As more people started wearing them, demand just grew and grew. Everyone was asking for them. ”
“As time went on, I thought this could really be a business.”
In 2004, Fabiola talked to her parents about taking a break from swimming and bringing her hobby to the masses. “We set up a rented place, bought the sewing machines, created the logo and went into retail with our line of products.”
With that, the store Fabiola Molina was born. “Our goal is for people to wear our pieces and feel different, feel good. We want people to put on a suit that’s capable of changing their self-esteem, that they put them on and say, wow I feel really pretty, I feel good, I feel comfortable.”
Today, Fabiola Molina has a complete line of swimwear and beachwear for both men and women. With the storefront, business was always good, and she was making ripples in Brazil, but the growth of her business through e-commerce caused a wave of success globally.
Fabiola remembers her early days with online orders, “We were doing very well with the shop but the growth of the business really took off through fabiolamolina.com.br. It’s allowed us to have success on a global level. Our one stress, though, was the delivery. We didn’t know whether the product was going to be delivered to our customers, we didn’t know how long it was going to take to get there. We partnered up with FedEx because of the peace of mind we experienced in knowing everything was in order, that our customers would be receiving their packages very quickly, and that they’d be truly happy.”
Customers world wide can enjoy a bit of Brazil at the beach, or in the pool, and feel comfortable and stylish. For Fabiola, with her e commerce business, she sees no limits.
“We started off making fewer than 30 pieces a month. Now we make over 6,000 a month and with our current team and our global business, we know we can make much more.”