Meet The Founder & Owner
Meet the Founder of Australian Swimwear Label, MOTU swim
Lana Smith is the sole founder and owner of Australian Swimwear Label, MOTU swim. Get to know more about her, her passions, and how she came to start MOTU!
Where are you from?
I was born in London, England but my family moved to Sydney, Australia when I was 4. My mum is Serbian and my dad is Australian/English, and I'm lucky enough to have both an Aussie and English passport!
How old are you?
Describe yourself in 3 words
Positive, independent, dorky
What are you passionate about?
TRAVEL! There’s not much I love more than to travel, which I definitely have my parents to thank for – I’ve been on planes since before I could speak. I started travelling solo when I was 16 and since finishing high school have lived in London, Sweden, New York and now Bali! I’ve visited 37 countries and counting.
I cannot recommend travelling solo enough, it has really moulded me into the person I am today.
What made you want to re-locate to Bali?
Bali has always felt like home, I’ve been coming here 2-3 times a year for as long as I can remember, and I even have family on the island. After spending years working in an office and trying to get my business started on the side, I felt stressed and exhausted; I knew I wanted a lifestyle change and the chance to dedicate my time to my business and my overall well-being.
I’m all about work/life balance, and trust me I’ve worked HARD to now have a lifestyle where office hours are non-existent, I can work from anywhere, at any time. I don’t count down the days to the weekend, and I go to bed excited to wake up Every. Single. Day.
What inspired you to start MOTU swim?
It really just came down to the fact that I couldn’t find any bikinis that I liked or that suited me, and that was a serious issue for me because I spend every free moment at the beach! Coming from Australia, a country famed for its beaches and coastlines, it baffled me that there could be so many brands yet so little choice for what I wanted.
And I thought what I wanted was pretty simple:
- Bikinis that won’t give me odd tan lines
- Bikinis that were flattering and sexy
- Bikinis that would fit my large cup size and small waist (I’m a 10DD)
- Bikinis that were simple and timeless
- Bikinis that were high quality and wouldn’t fall apart quickly
I’ve studied both business and design, and I’ve been told time and time again that you need to pick a niche, or 1-2 unique selling points. But I didn’t want to make swimwear that only ticked one or two boxes from my criteria – they were all equally as important to me and there isn’t a single one I’d want to sacrifice.
I've watched new swimwear brands rise over the years, noting what I loved and what I would change, and after finishing my studies I decided I would start my own label, and if no matter what happened, at least I would have bikinis that I loved!
And so MOTU was born!
What's different about MOTU?
Our bikini tops are adjustable so that women can find their perfect fit regardless of cup/waist size, and this also means you can undo them for the best tan! All of the styles are simple, seamless and reversible, providing the comfiest fit. And we use the highest quality eco-friendly nylon lycra that is resistant to UV, oils, sun creams, chlorine, and has excellent shape and colour retention!
What does MOTU mean?
‘Little island’ in French Polynesia.
I have been lucky enough to visit French Polynesia and couple of times and instantly fell in love with the slower pace, beautiful landscapes, and friendly people. One island I stayed on was called Motu Nunue.
When it came to choosing a name, MOTU was the perfect fit as for me it really epitomised a beautiful life in a tropical paradise, living simply and in harmony with nature.
Who is MOTU for?
Women that are drawn to the ocean. Women that want to feel confident, sexy, and comfortable. Women that are carefree and enjoy a simple life.
What is your favourite MOTU bikini and why?
This sounds so cliché but I love them all! It really depends on my mood and what I'm doing that day – the NUSA set is definitely my go-to, it’s just so classic, simply & minimal. I’ll go for the MANTA set if I want to feel a little bit sexier, and the HANA if I want to feel like I’m getting the extra support.
How did you make the decision to go eco-friendly?
I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the cleanest beaches in the world, but I’ve also been to some of the most polluted. Indonesia is one of my absolute favourite countries, I’ve been coming here since I was 8 and have lost count of how many times I’ve been since then, but the sad truth is that this beautiful country is the 2nd largest plastic polluter in the world (just behind China).
The factory I chose to work with in Bali told me about recycled fabrics that I could use for my production, and I hadn’t even known it was a possibility to be honest! To top it off, the fabric was extremely high quality, much higher than what could be found locally, and I instantly knew that I’d found the perfect combination.
Since this decision, I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to educating myself on the impacts we have on our oceans, and I’ve become extremely passionate about doing what I can as an individual and as a brand to help. Beyond using recycled fabrics, I try to use my brand to educate my customers and followers about ocean pollution, because I do truly believe that a lot of the issues stem from a lack of education!
What's in the future for MOTU?
I'd really like to see our sustainable practices grow, and hopefully soon we will publicly partner with a charity or organisation that we believe in to give back to this earth a little more. We have some other eco-plans up our sleeves but those are still a secret for now ;)
It's a really competitive industry, but if we can continue to grow and keep designing simple, high quality swimwear for all of our customers, we'll be so happy!