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Girl you need to know: BossBabes reality TV star and ed&I founder Edna Swart

Edna Swart is from a new generation of entrepreneurs, who use social media to build their brands.

Edna Swart isn’t your typical 29 year-old. She quit her corporate banking job to build up her ed&I swimwear line to become the well-known and popular brand it is today, using social media as a key communication tool for promoting her business and her personal brand. Plus, her star is on the rise thanks to her appearance in TVNZ web series BossBabes, alongside fellow entrepreneur (and BFF) Iyia Liu. Edna’s drive and passion for what she is doing is inspiring. We chatted to her about how she got to where she is now:
Age: 29 Hometown: Pretoria, South Africa Current Location: Auckland How did you get to where you are today? At the age of 5, my family and I moved from South Africa to New Zealand. I am adopted, and this did challenge me with my identity of who I was growing up and did lead to me straying from my parents’ ideals which included dropping out of school at 15. However, this never stopped me from pursuing opportunities and driving towards what I ultimately wanted from life. I grew up with a passion for adventure and the outdoors. This translated into my love for sports throughout my childhood, concentrating more on athletics which I competed in at a national and international level. In my late teens, I was blessed to have found my biological mother in South Africa, which led to my journey home where I spent time getting to know my roots and also gained the invaluable experience of working overseas. At the age of 20, I moved back to New Zealand. Wanting to expand my horizons and future possibilities, I enrolled at Massey University and completed my Finance degree which then led to eight years of corporate banking. In 2016, frustrated with the selection of swimwear in New Zealand and eager to build something of my own, I set out to design and create my own version of elegant and timeless swimwear. Now, three years on and having empowered women throughout three seasons of simple and stylish swimwear designs, I have launched a complementary line of cosmetics – ed&I body, a transformative body care system designed to give all women body confidence.
When did you first know you wanted to be in business? From my late teens, I always had an interest in being able to work for myself, I just didn’t know how or what I wanted to do in order to make it happen. Eventually, when I hit my mid-twenties I finally discovered my passion for creativity, my love for summer, fashion and beauty which all came together in ed&I swim and body. You’ve switched from a career in finance to what you do now, how hard was this decision to make? It wasn’t easy. I had many moments of doubt and when I did take the leap I then had moments of panic, worrying that I had made the wrong decision. It’s a situation a lot of start-up business owners face, moving from a steady salary and feelings of security to the unknown and pressure of growing your own business. How important is female empowerment to you and why? Extremely important – ed&I is all about empowering women through our sophisticated and elegant swimwear products and body care range. Ed&I is designed to give all women body confidence. I personally have moments of self-doubt and body insecurities and knowing there are female communities out there, created by other businesses who also aim to empower and support women is very comforting to me.
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Do you have any advice for Miss FQ readers who want to get into careers like yours? Give it a go, be persistent, surround yourself with mentors and people who support you, listen to your customers and don’t be scared of failure. How do you define success? Success is different for everybody so I don’t think there is a right answer to this question, for me personally – I love the feeling of hearing positive feedback from my customers and how my products have helped them feel confident! I also love the feeling of reaching personal goals that I set to challenge myself and continue growing as a woman. What has been your greatest accomplishment or milestone to date? Taking the plunge in leaving my comfortable corporate job, believing in myself and my business and giving it my all! What are some challenges you’ve faced or had to overcome? For the business, a big challenge has been learning the designing and manufacturing process in creating ed&I body. There was no ‘how-to guide’ or checklist to follow, I had to learn on the go and still, today am learning every day. Personally, I have had to learn to love who I am as a woman. This stems originally from high school where I encountered bullying around my looks which has left me with insecurities to this day. I have taught myself to ignore the negativity and be confident and proud of who I am.
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Any life-changing books, podcasts, or websites you recommend? I’m not a huge reader, but The Secret really resonated with me and helped me maintain a positive mindset even when going through challenges in my life. What motivates you? The freedom to work from anywhere in the world and make my own decisions is a massive motivator for me. Define what a Boss Babe means to you? What’s your favourite thing about being a girlboss? Being in charge of your life and your business, enjoying the ride by appreciating the highs and lows that come with it, whilst also surrounding yourself with like-minded inspirational people who can support you. How does your own style influence your swimwear designs? With my own personal style, I try and keep to simple, clean and timeless looks in both my fashion and beauty which carries over into my swimwear designs. Do you have favourite quote or mantra to live by? Where there is a will, there is a way.
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What does a typical day look like for you? Every morning starts with a coffee in bed where I respond to emails and social media from overnight. Following this, an 8km run around my local lake – which is where I am often at my most creative. After breakfast I typically fulfill orders and from there, my days can vary from having meetings, product development sessions, content creation, responding to customers and going to events. No day is ever the same. In the evening, I usually go to the gym with my man and cook dinner for the two of us afterwards. What’s your favourite go-to outfit or piece when you need to feel confident? On the beach, it’s my go-to LLB – little black bikini – EPI Top and MINNI bottoms. On the street, I put on my favourite jeans, a rock and roll tee and stiletto heels. What’s the one beauty product you couldn’t live without? My eyebrow gel to tame my wild brows.
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What is a piece of advice you’d wish you’d known before you started ed&I swim? Not to take everybody’s advice on board, be selective and trust your gut. When did you last act fearlessly? In Bali when I had to stand up for myself after a potential bikini production manufacturer whom I was meeting for the first time was rude and disrespectful towards me. You’ve already achieved so much, what’s next for you? I’m very excited for what’s to come. I have a few exciting things planned in the next 6 months – including the introduction of two new ed&I body products, taking ed&I body internationally and all the while delivering new seasons for ed&I swimwear.

Watch Edna on TVNZ’s BossBabes.

Photos: Supplied, Instagram
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