To Sara Wolf, it was an idea that “hit her like a flash” at the beach one day when she saw women lathering themselves in sunblock, throwing on their husbands’ old T-shirts and shorts to cover up, and looking uncomfortable in their swimsuits. Wolf called her friend Daniella Teutsch immediately and said, “Let’s turn the sloppy T-shirt into a swim suit.”
A unique sun protection and activewear line for swim and sport, Wolf and Teutsch’s HydroChic appeals to women of all shapes and sizes with the comfort, style, and sun protection women desire out of the summer attire. Sold online and in various stores in New York, New Jersey, Canada, South Africa, and Australia (to name a few of the 13 in-store locations), the small team of about six employees works to craft swimwear that appeals to women “across the board.”
Having graduating from college with a degree in history and political science, Wolf, a resident of New Rochelle, wasn’t always exactly into fashion. Her career path changed with the launch of HydroChic (pronounced both “chic” and “chick”) in 2008, through which Wolf was solving a consumer concern in swimwear.
“There are so many women out there who want to cover up or camouflage something, no matter the size,” she says.
When Teutsch and Wolf began their business venture, they turned to friends and family to fund startup costs. The timing of their idea was rough: it was during the last recession. “We were growing every season but turned down all the time by banks,” Wolf recalls.
They first sold their products at school events and throughout the community.
“We did Tupperware-like parties in the community,” Wolf says. “Things were taken off the table, and we had nothing left at the end of the night.”
HydroChic was online from the get-go, and in combination with home party and social media marketing, Wolf and Teutsch got their products out. Today, the line contains more than 100 mix-and-match styles, including long sleeve, short sleeve, and sleeveless tank tops, swim skirts with lengths from 15-27 inches, skorts, shorts, leggings, sun dresses, and diving jackets, all of which can be purchased in unique colors and patterns.
“It’s a fresh breath of air for women who need other options and swim solutions,” Wolf explains, noting that this is what makes HydroChic stand out from other, bigger brands.
The design process stems from the two women “tormenting” themselves to pick the best colors and patterns. “It has to be something we love,” Wolf says. “Daniella and I both love the same colors, but until it clicks, we keep discussing it. We go off our gut impulse while keeping in mind what’s going on in the fashion world.”
Flying in many of its fabrics from Italy, most of HydroChic’s items are constructed from a fabric of a special weave for sun and chlorine protection. The fabric retains shape and elasticity, perfect for women divers and fitness swimwear in general, Wolf says, noting that its tank tops and short skirts with attached pants sell particularly well.
The women have been featured in The Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune, and Wolf predicts continued success for their swimwear line.
“Business has been growing, and it’s up every year,” Wolf said. “20 percent one year, and now 30 percent.” In the future, HydroChic would like to expand to encompass a larger customer base. Feedback from consumers of the products will continue to aid in this. “As new items and styles are needed, they’ll come into play,” Wolf said. “We definitely have sights on keeping it growing.”