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20 Questions with Entrepreneur Sivan Ayla

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amy

Sivan Ayla
@sivanayla

Where are you originally from and where do you live now?
I’m originally from the San Fernando Valley in California, but I grew up in Israel & Hawaii (Maui). Since moving back to California I’ve stayed in Los Angeles and now consider The Valley my home.

What is Tan + Lines?
TAN + LINES is my sport and swimwear brand that I started in 2019. The concept came about after I had my daughter Capri because I realized there were no simple, basic, not-annoying bathing suits for kids. I decided to create elevated basics for women as well, in silhouettes that are always in style and flatter the body. Ultimately, each piece is designed to make you feel confident, functional, & Instagram-worthy! TAN + LINES is an extension of me, my style, & my brand. It is a way for me to connect with my audience in a tangible way.

Can you share a little insight into the process of creating each collection?
Every collection starts many months before it’s release. It usually begins with a color or textile that is speaking to me. From there I expand on the color story (while always sticking to my signature neutrals) to build a collection. I like to keep the collections small and intentional so each piece is significant and serves a purpose. From there, it’s tons of fittings, lab dips to get the perfect shade of nude, blush, sand, etc., branding decisions (hang tags, heat stamps, sanitary stickers, shipping materials), and then the fun stuff happens. Once I receive finalized samples I begin planning the marketing – the studio shoot, editorial shoot, graphics, web banners, emails, Instagram try-on hauls, Q+A’s, etc. Right now we are a very small team of 3 (not including our production & fulfillment teams) so a lot depends on Paul & myself to handle. It’s a process that can be very draining but overall it is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world the day we go live & see the excitement.


Where do you gain inspiration for each collection?

I draw so much inspiration from Pinterest, Instagram, vintage textiles, & my travels. I have a whole folder in my phone of random images I save to provide me with inspiration when the time comes. It could be a color combination I like, a unique piece of art that would look great as a bikini print, a top that would be cute as swimwear, etc. I don’t always get inspiration in obvious ways, which is something I think every creative can relate to.

Where can people shop Tan + Lines?
We are exclusively on our own site (www.shoptanlines.com). In order to keep our prices what they are, it makes the most sense to keep the collections direct to consumer. I have a bit of a problem spending over $200 on a suit, so it was important for me to find a way to keep our suits at a more affordable price point.

How often does Tan + Lines release new collections?
We aim to release a new drop every season. Since incorporating the Sport category we are now alternating drops, but ultimately you can expect a new collection every season.

Can you tell us about the start of your career and how you became an influencer, and successful owner of two businesses?

I started off in wholesale in Downtown Los Angeles working for other people’s brands. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t creatively fulfilled. I began my blog back in 2011 as a fun hobby and treated it like a second job. I was so passionate about it I didn’t care that I was spending hours on something that brought me zero income and had hardly any readers. I believe the fact that I went into it for love (not money, fame, or perks of the job) is what kept me going long enough to reach where I am today. I did not give up because as far as I was concerned, I was winning with this blog that I was super proud of that brought me immense joy. Fast forward like 5 years and I finally landed a paid job through my blog and from there things grew slowly but surely. I gained a reputation in the industry for being unfiltered & real. Brands liked my honest approach to product reviews and my aesthetic wasn’t bad either 😉 Now I have been doing this for almost 10 years and I still get incredibly excited when a brand I love approaches me for a partnership. In terms of starting the 2 businesses, both concepts were such a strong fit for me that we decided to go for both. We love a good challenge and that definitely put us, our marriage, and our perseverance to the test!

What exciting projects are you working on this year?
There are so many exciting projects in the works! Slowly working on a cookbook, a couple collaborations & brand partnerships I am very excited about. We also have so much lined up for the brands that it can be hard to keep things a secret for so long. But, I promise it’s all worth the wait!

You are a woman of many talents, an amazing mom, and wife – can you share any tips and tricks you carry into your daily life?
I highly encourage anyone who is self-employed to set boundaries. Working hours, a quiet workspace, no work talk at dinner, that kind of thing. My husband is now my full-time business partner (as well as my attorney) so we especially had to create these boundaries to ensure we were spending quality time with each other and also our daughter. I struggle to find “balance” since my job as a blogger requires me to be present on social media pretty much 24/7. So I don’t have a single piece of advice on how to find that. But what I can say is this, DO value your mental health. Make sure whatever you are doing in your daily routine serves you, makes you happy, & is furthering your career.

In what ways do you balance your time between work and your personal life? Sivan: Well as I mentioned, balance is pretty much a word NOT in my vocabulary. However, between 5PM-7:30PM I am with Capri and pretty much don’t look at my phone or do any work. On the weekends I try to limit work to simply sharing my daily life via Instagram Stories. Emails can wait until Monday. I have learned over the years that emails don’t run my life, they are just a tool to do my job. Unless something is urgent, it can wait. Getting past that anxiety of needing to be available to everyone all the time was major for me and now I feel like I can disconnect a bit when necessary and it’s not as if I’ve fallen off the planet.

As a successful business owner, what advice would you give to someone who aspires to open up a business of their own?
Be ready for your life to feel over. In the thick of it, you need to live & breathe your business. No one will ever work as hard as YOU on your own business, so understand how valuable your time and energy is. I had to learn to say no to a lot of people, skip social events, and make sacrifices for the sake of starting my businesses and I wouldn’t trade any of that now. I am so proud of what we have achieved due to the hard work we put in, and at the end of the day I always know we did everything to the best of our abilities.

Can you share a highlight in your career?
A highlight for me is seeing my products loved by others. Reading reviews, seeing the Instagram posts, receiving emails and messages letting me know my products have impacted their life positively in any way just makes my whole life. Selling out in a matter of minutes is also a highlight, but I’m trying to work on that because my audience gets very frustrated in those situations…but from a business owner’s perspective, I can’t lie, it’s incredible!

How was your transition from Influencer to Business owner?
Honestly, the hardest part was going from a one-woman operation to suddenly working besides someone else. I had to adjust my working style to accommodate others and that was a struggle for me. My husband and I have very different working styles so learning to be a team player and trust someone else’s process was strange but we have finally reached a place where we are both comfortable and there is harmony once again (haha). Another struggle would be on days that I am inundated with computer work but I also have to be an Influencer and post interesting things. No one wants to see me in workout clothes typing away so I get a little anxious when my brands need my attention but I also need to be available for my audience on social media.

How do you feel your success as an influencer has influenced the success of your businesses?
I can’t lie and disregard the advantage I have because of my following. And I have the MOST loyal following! However, as an Influencer you have access to such critical data – demographics, polls, questionnaires, etc. I am in direct contact with my consumers to know exactly what they want and how they want it. I always take cues from my audience because they are the ones supporting my businesses. I can confidently say that starting a business from scratch without a following on social media is a lot harder because you don’t have the built-in awareness. I have mentored many small business owners who strictly want to know how they can grow on Instagram in order to achieve more brand awareness. It’s something I definitely do not take for granted.

You never fail to create beautiful content, can you give us any advice on getting the perfect photo?
Thank you! It’s all about consistency. I stick to the same color palettes, edits, and lighting. You won’t really see red in my photos because it doesn’t work well with my edit. I also like to map out my photos to make sure I am mixing it up enough (not too many selfies in a row) so when new followers find my page they get a nice taste of my aesthetic. But don’t overthink it, do what makes you happy!

You have an incredible blog where you are consistently sharing new insights into you and your life, can you tell us more about this?
My blog is something I place a very high value on because it’s where I dive deep into detail on pretty much anything and everything. I consider myself an open book and love to share my personal experiences on my blog so I can really tell a story loaded with tons of juicy details. My Instagram captions are short & usually sarcastic so I choose to use my blog as a my long-form story-telling platform. I have also consistently blogged 3-5 times per week since I started in 2011. People are always asking what I would do if Instagram went away tomorrow, and while I now have my 2 businesses, no one will ever be able to take away my blog, so that is very important for me to maintain.

You also have a brand known as, Lux Unfiltered, can you tell us a little bit about this?
I co-founded + Lux Unfiltered with my husband, which is our non-toxic beauty brand specializing in natural-looking self-tanner. Our hero product Nº32 – Hydrating Self-Tanning Cream – launched in November 2019 and we are excited for the release of our next product coming out this month!

Do you think you will expand your career into any other categories in the future? Sivan: Right now I am happy with my swim / sport line and beauty brand. I don’t think I / we would have the capacity to take on another category at the moment, but I would love to develop home décor one day. I do have some collaborations lined up that will fill other categories though, so you can definitely expect more from me in the coming months!

What would you like to say to your fans?
THANK YOU for all of the undying love and support you show me, my family, and my brands! I would never in a million years have the confidence to start a brand without the support of my audience cheering me on and asking for these products. You motivate me to create more and be better and for that I am eternally grateful!

Why do you love Modeliste Magazine?
I love Modeliste Magazine for combining aspirational fashion and relatable articles in one place. There’s something for everyone in each issue, which is not always the case in other publications. I appreciate good design and find the magazine incredibly aesthetically pleasing to look through. I also love Modeliste for choosing to put me and my brands in their magazine! 😉

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