A Conversation with Rachel Midori, the Inspiring Founder Behind Midori Bikinis

Starting in her college dorm room, Rachel has grown her sustainable swimwear brand and community from the ground up through the belief that failure was never an option. With over 3,000,000 Midori Bikinis on beaches around the world, Rachel stands by the mantra "Find something that fits you - not something you need to fit in." As a mother, entrepreneur, and nature enthusiast she views beauty as a reflection of inner confidence and embracing imperfections. Her passion for sustainability, family, and community is at the core of Midori Bikinis, making it a brand that goes beyond swimwear, creating connections through confidence around the world.


Before starting Midori, how did you know that you were an entrepreneur at heart?

I started with entrepreneurship really as a young child. I was really interested in problem solving and just figuring out how things worked and how to fix them. Solution oriented. So when I was about  7 years old, I remember starting an inventions diary where I'd write down different ideas. For example, I loved going in my wagon so I drew up a device where I could propel the wagon on my own while sitting it in. That was what was on my mind at that age!


Midori has been incredibly successful! Where did the original idea come from?

So it kind of started off in high school when I visited a friend living in Hawaii who told me that the locals wear a whole different kind of bikini on the island. What I really saw that captured my interest was that these Hawaiian women wearing these bikinis were much smaller than anything I’d ever seen. But they would walk around with their heads up, shoulders back, and with so much confidence in front of their friends and families. 

When I first wore a bikini that wasn’t full coverage, it definitely took a little bit of “faking it till I made it”. Even though I didn’t feel the most comfortable, I just held my head up and put my shoulders back and went for it! The more I did that… it just became habitual and I stopped thinking about it which grew my natural confidence. That confidence is what I wanted to bring back to California and it just so happened that the vehicle for that was bikinis.


Tell us about the early days of launching Midori.

So when I started the company I was 18 and I was a sophomore in college. I was living in a dorm room at the time and I was really spending a lot of time doing research, social media, and determining what values I wanted to bring to the company. I started testing some fabrics and once I got a few samples in, I had some girls come over to my dorm room to try them on and get some feedback. This led to almost a little “boutique shop” out of my dorm room. I had this old vintage suitcase full of bikinis and when summer days would start coming around, girls would literally flock to my dorm room, buy a bikini, and head straight to the beach.


How did you take the leap from the “Dorm Room Boutique” to building the full Midori brand?

I really saw explosive growth after graduating with my MBA and when we moved into an office space in La Jolla where I had 9 employees at the time. I feel like that's when our community began to grow exponentially and it was really great because it was younger people with a lot of gusto and energy that were also passionate about the same things I was passionate about: sustainability and quality. Facilitating that community behind Midori allowed for so many creative avenues that I couldn't think of on my own.


You are very active on Social Media for Midori - tell us a little bit about why that is important to you and the company?

At the time, when I saw a lot of swimwear brands, they were really showing one body type and it wasn't very personable. So I wanted our brand to be very relatable. And so when I would hop on Instagram, for the most part they were seeing me. It was almost like a personal account that was affiliated with a brand. It honestly started with me in front of the mirror in my dorm room going, “I just got this new style. What do you think about it? Do you still want to see that? What should we change” And to this day, almost 13 years later, I do the same thing. So our community is really based on the feedback I received from other women who wear our suits. 

Transparency is also extremely important. Like any business, we have had our share of challenges and hurdles at Midori and have gone through a lot of short term losses for long term gains. So why try to hide that? Had I not taken responsibility, I don't think Midori would be around today, but because we stepped up and we said, “We're going to own this, we're going to make it right”, the loyalty from our community was like tenfold. A lot of people really can relate with and understand what you're going through when you decide to be transparent.


What beliefs and unique points of difference did you want to bring to Midori?

So I believed that confidence and being comfortable in your own skin is really what beauty means to me. When we feel comfortable, even if it's faking it till you make it, we're able to stand in that beauty and really embrace our bodies for what they are, in every perfect imperfection. 

So I know my community loves clothing that makes them feel at one with their own body while also valuing sustainability. They are definitely in tune with what they put on and in their bodies so we're looking after the environment in our packaging and the way we manufacture. We use Waco Tech approved material that's skin safe and gets rid of the possibility of potentially harmful chemicals being on our skin.


How do you balance it all?

My mission is to motivate an environment of harmony and wonder between myself, my friends, and family in the infinite miraculous world around us. I'm especially tuned in nature and would love to think that I inspire my community with my often slower paced, detail oriented view of our surroundings. 

Time management is the most important thing that I really rely on. I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter and she definitely keeps me excited (and busy) just watching how she’s growing and developing into her own person. I have a horse, a bunny, a fish (which is the least of my problems) but in order to balance that, I find that writing things down is a big thing for me. And then just taking things step by step. So a lot of the times when life seems to be overwhelming, I kind of lay it all out and I go, “This is what I need to get done. Let's get the first thing done and the next thing done. And before you know it, it's all done!”. But in the moment, I feel like life can be very overwhelming, to say the least. So I try to take a step back in those cases and I'll do something that allows me to free my mind, like going out and riding my horse, Bonita.


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