“Did you see the double rainbow this morning?” asks Melissa Odabash as she
sits down at the patio table at Dive Bar Restaurant. “I was outside and it was
directly over my house. I stepped inside to grab my phone, and it had almost
dissipated by the time I returned. These moments pass so quickly. You have to
catch them while you can.”
Although said in passing, there is a much greater
weight to the words, considering the source. Melissa
Odabash is a woman who knows about seizing the right
moments. One of the most successful businesswomen
in the world, as CEO of an eponymous design firm,
she has built a respected fashion empire on clothing
designed for “holidays and relaxing at the beach.” Her
bathing suits and resort wear collections are made for
memorable moments that seem to pass all too quickly.
QUALITY IS HARD TO FIND
Melissa’s introduction to business came as a swimwear
model in Rome. Disappointed in the quality of the pieces
she was asked to model, she began to design her own,
importing the fabric from Milan, and sewing the pieces
From the beginning there has been a hallmark to
Melissa’s suits: All are cut with obsessive attention to
the proportions of a woman’s body.
She believes passionately in fit and in quality – the two
elements that were lacking in so many of the bathing
suits she modeled at the beginning of her career. These
elements have remained constant, as has her unerring
knack for seizing the moment.
A model herself, and with a natural instinct for marketing,
she was able to get her bathing suits in the pages of the
top fashion magazines – and on the bodies of the top
models – including Cindy Crawford and Elle Macpherson,
both of whom remain friends and clients to this day. Soon
other A-list fans followed suit, including Beyonce, Heidi
Klum, Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ivanka Trump, and
Her Royal Highness Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
On the Silver Screen, Jennifer Lawrence wears Melissa’s
SportsLuxe suit in the recent film, “Passengers.” Further,
her collections have been featured in such leading
publications as Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Tatler.
“Vogue U.S. did an article naming Tamara Mellon (
ex-president of Jimmy Choo), Natalie Massenet (founder of
Net-a-Porter), and me as the three to watch,” she says
with no small amount of pride. Vogue U.K. described
her bikinis as “the Ferraris of the bikini world.” She has
become known for reintroducing high fashion to the
swimwear world with complimentary lines that include
beachwear, accessories, children’s wear, and SportsLuxe.
RIDING THE WAVE OF SUCCESS
Melissa’s insistence on quality and her business acumen
paid off. The line only carried in independent boutiques
grew to be distributed in luxury department stores.
“Saks came first. Followed by Harvey Nichols, Harrods,
Barney’s, Neiman Marcus, Selfridges,” she lists off the
names, “We’re now in over 250 stores, boutiques, and
resorts all over the world.”
In 2007, Melissa opened her own store in Notting Hill,
West London, which was quickly followed by a sister
store in Chelsea. Prior to our lunch in Jupiter, she was
in the Dominican Republic, at the grand opening of her
latest store in Casa de Campo. To accommodate the
demand, she owns a factory outside of London. “I now
have 52 employees around the world,” says the woman
who once upon a time hand-stitched bikinis by herself.
“The physical stores are great, but I think the future is
online,” she says. “Online shopping lets you try on the
pieces in the comfort of your own home.”
“We sell a selection of pieces through various online
retailers and discount sites, as well as our full line of
bathing suits, beachwear (for women and children) and
accessories online at Odabash.com.
(cont’d on next page)