1. First introduce yourself, what you do, where you’re from.
Sarah Sidway Godshaw. I own and run Sidway Swim, I also design swimwear on a freelance basis for a few other brands. I am from Chicago, but I have been in LA since I was about 13 but before that my family lived in the suburbs of Chicago.
2. How long have you been working on your own line?
I started thinking about starting the line about 4 years ago, 2014, but it took me at least a year to get the guts to make it happen.
3. What made you jump into starting your own line? Was there an exact moment where you decided, “I’m going to do this now”?
Starting a line for me was more of a mix of small steps. One day I got home from work and I sat down with my husband and had him help me tackle the part of starting a business that was the most intimidating: buying the domain, beginning to build a website and the legal process of setting up a business. I know how to do the other stuff really well, it’s the parts of the business I had never done before that scared me the most. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted once I did those first few steps.
4. Why did you choose to do swimwear as opposed to lingerie, sportswear, etc.?
College for me was really labor-intensive and super competitive. I went to Otis, which is a small design/art school in LA. It was a bit cut-throat and I was having a really hard time. I felt like I would never get a job if I was competing against my uber-talented classmates, they were just all so talented it was unbelievable. So I kinda figured swimwear and lingerie sounded more fun, less serious and stuffy- and there wasn’t anyone else in my class that wanted to do it. Otis only graduates about 40 students a year in the fashion design program and it’s one of the better schools on the west coast, so I figured I wouldn’t have to compete much for work.
Turns out I was right. Rod Beattie, who is somewhat of a swimwear icon, came to the recruiter day at graduation. I was the only student with a book of only swim and lingerie, a really narrow focus. He recommended me for a job and by the end of summer, I was an Associate Designer handling Puma Women’s Swimwear for North America and the swimwear for the juniors brand Rampage (R.I.P.).
5. What are your two favorite aspects of being a swimwear designer?
Hands down my favorite thing about swimwear is the people. The swimwear industry, unlike much of fashion, is filled with quirky, friendly people. I also really love being able to design things that make a woman feel sexy and good about her body.
6. As a new mother, how do you manage work/motherhood balance?
When I figure that out I will let you know. In all honesty, though, I am really lucky in that my husband is also a wonderful parent and we both freelance and work from home most days. We kind of just trade-off with the baby and so far… Does it kinda work? I do have a tab open right now for a google search for “infant daycare” as we speak though. I don’t have the answer.
7. What are your go-to denim styles?
I love high rise styles, I like to be able to wear them with a swim top or a cropped blouse without feeling naked.
8. Can you give two pieces of advice to young designers who want to start their own line?
The advice I would give to anyone who wants to start a business is to start with the parts that sound the hardest, and in the beginning, it’s amazing how much you can do yourself with youtube and asking some friends for suggestions. It’s all about being scrappy.