Former Tulsan Designs Niche Swim Wear

For years, Hilary Genga wore her husband’s swim trunks to the pool or to the beach just because she always felt more comfortable and freer in them than in the traditional female bathing suit.
“You can do all sorts of things more easily while wearing them — rough house with your kids, run, jump, dive,” Genga said. “But I could never find products like that for a woman.”
Genga worked on the idea, assembling different tops with the trunks. She knew she was onto something because she always drew attention from other women.
“Every time I wore them, women asked me, ‘were did you get a that?’” she said.
Genga knew that “gal trunks” had to exist somewhere.
“The concept was just too great for someone to overlook it,” she said.
After searching for something like she wanted over a period of several years, Genga decided to “do it myself.”
She created Trunkettes. She and partner, Los Angeles-based designer, Kristen Evenson, spent $100 and began putting together samples.
Genga also received a $1,000 cash infusion from her six-year-old son, Jacob.
“He was saving to spend the money on a stock or a start up,” Genga said. “And he pointed out to me I was starting a company. But, I told him he could — and probably would — lose it all.”
But the idea caught fire. In the first year, Genga and Evenson made a profit. Now, two years later, Genga estimates their gross revenue at $500,000.
Genga is a native Tulsan. She attended Memorial High School and graduated from Booker T. Washington. After spending time in New York, Genga settled in Los Angeles where she’s lived since the mid-1980s.
Despite her success, Genga’s been surprised at how challenging a start up can be.
“Today anyone can throw up a Web site,” she said. She commented on how naive she was, thinking she could put together a few samples, launch a Web site and Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s would be ready to buy the company for millions in a couple of days.
Genga has not had to spend any cash on advertising because the concept is fresh and it solves a problem. Genga has received tremendous publiciity from Fox News and more recently, the Today Show.
“We were on (Today) for just a minute but the sales we generated from that was enough to pay the publicist and still make a profit,” she said. The publicist worked in crisis management, not clothing, but promised to work on getting Trunkettes on a show or not get paid.
All the cash is being plowed back into manufacturing, she said, which has moved to China “because it is so expensive to make anything here.”
The product is bought by a diverse age range.
“Some are older, some younger,” Genga said. “But most are moms in their 30s and 40s. It is moms running after their kids. That is where the money is.”
And, Genga still hopes to land a gig at Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s.

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