Swimwear company's task: Find talent pool
Swimwear Anywhere Inc. manufactures swimwear for the likes of Carmen Marc Valvo, DKNY, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Vince Camuto. This week, models will be sashaying in the company's handiwork down the runways at Fashion Week. Its business continues to grow, primarily by word of mouth.
And yet, this family-owned manufacturer faces a challenge shared by many Long Island companies -- finding young talent. That has been a critical task as the company has grown, increasing its Long Island staff from 100 to 140 in the past five years.
"One of the most difficult parts of being on Long Island is finding the creative young talent," said Rosemarie DiLorenzo, who, with her husband Joe DiLorenzo, established the Farmingdale business in 1995.
Building its brand
The DiLorenzos brought years of experience when they started the company -- Rosemarie in design and Joe in patternmaking, production and sales. Since then, Swimwear Anywhere has built up a roster of 17 brands.
The company owns six of its own brands, including Roxanne and Coco Reef. It designs and manufactures private label lines for department stores, and holds the licenses for several designer labels. The DiLorenzo family also owns Tyr, a separate company based in Huntington Beach, Calif., that develops competitive athletic swimwear and equipment.
Swimwear Anywhere's creative hub is a 50,000-square-foot Farmingdale facility, where its design consulting and manufacturing of runway samples take place. Manufacturing for mass orders is done in China. On Sunday, Carmen Marc Valvo's show unveiled several swimwear pieces developed at the company's headquarters.
"Their design team will bring the trends of the swimwear world and Carmen brings his perspective of ready-to-wear and design collections," said Frank Pulice, vice president of communications for Carmen Marc Valvo.
Swimwear Anywhere's expertise in the sector and its high-caliber brands are a draw for young fashion professionals, Rosemarie DiLorenzo said.
But Long Island often isn't top of mind when it comes to fashion positions. Its suburban landscape has difficulty competing with the city's neighborhoods and amenities that attract young job candidates. So the company created a college internship program to groom its own pool of talent.
The company brings in 12 to 20 interns a year for training in the swimwear sector, which requires skills specific to fit and sizing as well as the development of durable, comfortable and stylish fabrics. It hires three to five interns a year.
Searching for talent
The still-tight job market as well as the increasing expense of living in New York City may be helping the company's efforts. The prospect of a good job just next door is a compelling attraction, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for The NPD Group.
"If I can't be in the big city . . . why not be next door to it?" Cohen said.
The company's human resource department actively searches for talent, using headhunters, attending student shows at the city's art and design schools and developing relationships with school faculty. Some of Swimwear Anywhere's young designers said they hadn't considered Long Island for work until they were approached by the company.
The job opportunity makes the commute worth it for James Peay, 29, a senior designer who lives in Brooklyn. "What drove me here was the new experience designing from scratch."
Retaining employees hasn't been a problem. Many have grown up with the company, finding opportunities to advance and preferring the more personal environment of a family business, where meals are often shared and milestones like weddings and births are celebrated together.
"We grew up with them," Rosemarie DiLorenzo said. "We built the company together."