Local entrepreneur celebrates one year of her luxury swimwear brand
For many women, finding a bathing suit that makes you look good, feel great and will stand the test of time can be a challenge. Local entrepreneur Jamie Banks has been in the fashion industry for many years, working with brands such as Kate Spade, Shoshanna, and Milly. Like many people during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was laid off from Kate Spade when companies were struggling during the shutdown. Her newfound downtime and encouragement from her friends and family led her to start her swimwear brand, Change of Scenery.
Banks attended Cornell for its Fashion program and went on to a successful career designing swimwear and resort wear at iconic brands. Working as the design director with Shoshanna, an accomplished clothing brand that debuted in stores in 1998, was where Banks fell in love with designing swimwear. At Kate Spade in 2020, Banks oversaw 20 categories in womenswear collections, including sleepwear, outerwear, sunglasses and other fashion accessories. But swimwear was always the most fun.
“So swim has the best creative colors. Think about sleepwear, sleepwear is fun too, but everything has to be pink or black or white, with some fun patterns,” said Banks. “But the best print colors are in swimwear. I love to think about where my customer’s really wearing it. Swim is the best outcome; I think of vacation, the beach and fun. It’s the most joyful of possible outcomes for what [the customer’s] going to buy it for.”
While Banks loves swimwear, she never thought she’d have her own brand. Her whole team was laid off from Kate Spade in July of 2020 due to tough decisions being made during lockdown. When other departments were able to meet virtually, design has to be done in person. You need to be able to touch and feel the products and see the colors in person, explained Banks. Before starting her own brand, she did some consulting work for brands like Michael Kors. But while consulting for different brands, she dabbled in swimwear and remembered how much that area was a happy place.
After Banks wrote a business plan, she began putting money behind ordering fabrics, samples and buying inventory. And suddenly, she had her own brand which she named Change of Scenery.
From years of experience in the field, Banks knows that people want to look pretty and fit in their swimwear while also being comfortable and supported. Her design inspiration stems from a passion for real women to feel comfortable and confident through her product while also creating timeless pieces.
“I try really hard to design styles that will last a really long time, that is not just like the trend of the moment,” said Banks. “I use prints that you’ll enjoy for years to come, and in the long run that’s better for your wallet.”
Change of Scenery offers various styles in one-piece and two-piece swimwear. The brand also has ready-to-wear apparel, such as flowing dresses, pants and skirts that perfectly complement the swimwear or can be worn separately.
Providing products that are high quality and fit flawlessly is a top priority for Banks, in addition to sustainability. Change of Scenery swimwear is made from Repreve, a polyester fiber made entirely of recycled plastic. The fabric is perfect for swimwear as it has wicking properties, water repellency, and compression for reliable quality.
The Port community was excited for the launch of Change of Scenery, so much so that before the website was up, Banks partnered with The Wellground in Port Washington for the launch. The Wellground’s support pulled together a launch in such a short time.
“We had over a hundred women buy bathing suits that day,” said Banks. “The Wellground was packed. It was wall to wall packed with a line out front.”
With such a successful launch, Banks continued in-person events having one shortly after the launch in Scarsdale, NY and more in Port. Aside from the in-person events, Change of Scenery was 100 percent online. Banks would have local women over to her house to try on bathing suits to purchase.
“What’s supposed to be my dining room looks like a swim store,” said Banks.
Banks feels one of the best things to have come out of her journey with Change of Scenery is all the women she has met and connected with.
“Women just really want to support other women,” said Banks. “As a person who has been doing this for 20 years, sitting in an office in an ivory tower with a team of 10 designers pretending like we know who she is, what size she is and what she wants. We don’t know. Now I’m in the dressing room, and I see that this doesn’t cover that or that’s not enough support here.”
With Change of Scenery’s second collection, Banks has provided styles that she has heard customers directly request. She listens to the women she has styled and makes changes accordingly. Although Banks was never a fan of swim skirts, she has heard from the community that it is in high demand and is working on a fashionable and functional swim skirt for her line.
The support from women in Port has been instrumental in persevering and growing Change of Scenery. Banks lives in Port with her husband and three kids. Like many families, one of the main reasons they moved to Port was the easy access to the train.
“It’s kind of ironic because you live in Port to get on that train and go to the city. But then you don’t become part of the community here in town,” said Banks. “It’s weird to say, but thanks to COVID allowing me to start this business, I’ve met women in business I would’ve never met otherwise.”
Banks has been coined as ‘the bathing suit girl’ in town, she shared jokingly. While she started her business with the idea of being all online, she wouldn’t give up the fun of having people at her home to try on bathing suits. Some of the photos posted to the Change of Scenery Instagram are from photoshoots with models, a lot of the posts are real women in Port and women from other areas Banks has sold bathing suits.
With the friends Banks has and the connections she has made, she has been able to travel across the country to do pop-up shops in boutiques and trunk shows. Now, Change of Scenery is featured in three boutiques including Great Shapes in Roslyn, Swimland in Florida and Prickly Pear in Houston.
Banks is excited to announce that in May, Change of Scenery will launch with Nordstrom. Banks shared that Nordstrom has been a wonderful partner to a small business.
To check out what Change of Scenery has to offer, visit online at shopchangeofscenery.com or on Instagram @shopchangeofscenery