If “Gidget” and “Moondoggie” mean anything to you, you’ll love Rosseau’s Teeny Weeny Bikini Co. (twbco). Designer Ashley Eady, a longtime Muskoka cottager, dove into handmade swimwear + retail 16 years ago, creating retro, small-batch bikinis and one-piece bathing suits that compliment a woman’s curves. Think: Annette Funicello in 1960s’ Beach Blanket Bingo, Sally Field in Gidget, even Esther Williams in 1940s Hawaii. But Ashley’s inspirations dive much deeper, to Coco Chanel and Vera Wang. Says Eady: “I believe it takes more skill to design something that’s simple, beautiful, andfunctional.” We tracked Ashley down in her Village of Rosseau boutique just as she was launching her new line of Swimwear 2020. We wanted to know what keeps this designer/retailer designing, crafting, and selling her groovy suits… items we consider art in Muskoka. Here’s what she said:
MuskokaStyle: Your designs have a vintage look with a modern twist. Where does that inspiration come from?
Ashley: I’ve always leaned towards vintage silhouettes in design for the female form. The cuts in swimwear from the 1920s to 1970s complemented womens’ curves. The modern aspect in my designs comes from a need for the suit to function in a practical sense. Form and function need to meet somewhere comfortably in the middle. I like to keep my designs classic and simple because I want the suit to stand the test of time, not go out of fashion next season.
MuskokaStyle: Any new directions this year?
Ashley: This season TWB is taking the brand back to its grass roots, creating pieces on a couture level. We spent 15 years working with large-scale production houses and decided that was long enough. They took all the joy out of the creative process.
MuskokaStyle: So… what’s new in store for 2020?
Ashley: This season our suits are blooming with California Poppies. Each suit in this collection is hand decorated with a cluster of flowers. This collection is bringing me a lot of joy and sunshine. Also new this season: undies!
MuskokaStyle: You were raised spending summers in Muskoka. Tell us about it.
Ashley: I have spent the majority of my life spending summers in cottage country. When I was a young, my grandparents built a cottage across from Deerhurst in Huntsville. When I was in grade 6 my parents purchased our cottage on Lake Rosseau and we’ve been there ever since. I have seen a lot come and go over the years, the Muskoka Lakes are ever changing. As a teen I used to like to ride into Port Carling and shop in Steamboat Bay and get ice cream at Nibbs (sadly, it’s not there anymore). Around this time I used to work a few days a week in a women’s clothing store in Rosseau called Naomi’s Coach House. That’s where I got a taste for working in fashion retail.
MuskokaStyle: Who are your fashion role models?Ashley: Coco Chanel and Vera Wang were role models for me early on. I like designs that are timeless and elegant, but with a lot of thought put into the cut. I believe it takes more skill to design something that’s simple, beautiful, and functional.
MuskokaStyle: Tell us about your Lake Rosseau boutique?
Ashley: Teeny Weeny Bikini Co. opened in Rosseau Village 16 years ago with antique doors and other fixtures that give the building an old-Muskoka, summer-era feel. The shop houses our brand TWB as well as a curation of other independent designers from around the globe. The decor and fixtures in the shop are mostly vintage, which we also sell. Most customers that find their way into the shop for the first time, find themselves traveling down memory lane. It’s fun to watch.
MuskokaStyle: And your online store, tell us about that.
Ashley: Our online shop launched the same year we opened our brick-and-mortar store believe it or not, but it has come a long way since then. You’ll find it at www.twbco.com. It’s a great and easy way to shop our commonly stocked wares. There’s also a chat icon that connects directly to me, should you have any questions on swimwear fit. We’ve tried to make shopping for a bather as easy as possible, with no-hassle returns or exchanges online and flat-rate shipping.
MuskokaStyle: Ashley, thank you from MuskokaStyle!
For more info: Twb Co. Rosseau, 5 Rice St. in the Village of Rosseau (Next to the Rosseau General Store). Open June on weekends, July – August open full time. September – Thanksgiving: Weekends. www.twbco.com
Lead photo by Meaghan Eady Photography (@meaghan.eady). All images courtesy of TWB Co.