Tess Daly And Gayle Lawton On Their Swimwear Brand, NAIA Beach

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Buckinghamshire locals Tess Daly and Gayle Lawton are celebrating three years of running their business, NAIA Beach. We dive in to find out more

NAIA Beach was built by the longtime friends Tess Daly and Gayle Lawton, who share a mutual passion for travel and fashion. It was their mission at NAIA Beach is for wearers to feel comfortable, confident, and special when wearing the collection, meaning each piece is designed for an ultra-flattering fit. The collection also features a sustainably sourced line made with abandoned or spent fishing nets, pre-consumer plastic components and discarded textiles.

With a new collection launching for summer, Absolutely sat down with the two Buckinghamshire locals to find out all about the origins of the business, what they have learnt along the way, and where in the county they get away from it.

Tell us about the ICON collection?

Tess: We are very proud to be a company started BY women FOR women. We are always inspired by incredible women and trust me there are many of them! We really wanted the ICON SS23 collection to encapsulate the strength and power of some of the most iconic women both past and present. That’s why we have named the pieces after strong females such as Ella Fitzgerald, Raquel Welch and Goldie Hawn; someone who has inspired me so much on a personal level since I am an ambassador for her brilliant children’s mental health charity MIND UP. 

Gayle: Sustainability is also hugely important to us, so we have increased our offering of sustainable swimwear. We have built on the endless positive feedback from our NAIA women around the globe and created supremely chic, glamorous and empowering on trend designs, while consistently maintaining our brand promise for quality and of course that all important incredibly flattering fit. 


Which pieces do you particularly love from it?

G: My personal favourite is the gold story we have created, with the beautiful, supremely flattering Goldie Swimsuit and the Stevie Maxi dress. It’s pure statement glamour.

T: I’m currently obsessing over our navy zebra swimsuit and matching kaftan; its other-level chic. Every time I wear it I get asked where it’s from! Plus I’m so proud of the Farrah split-leg white jumpsuit: it is the jumpsuit I’ve been looking for my whole life! It’s so versatile and utterly fabulous either as a cover-up or worn alone

How do you start to work on a new collection?

T: We are constantly gathering inspiration from our surroundings; at home or overseas, be it a vintage market where we might spot inspiration for a particularly stunning print, or it could be a beautifully coloured turquoise door in a cobbled street in the South of France. 

G: We find so much inspiration on our travels, yet we pride ourselves on our unique designs which we proudly believe are unmatched in the current market. We launch a new season while simultaneously working on designs for the next season, so it’s a constant creative flow. We have only recently launched the Icon SS23 collection, are finalising our debut capsule Cruise/ Resort pieces, and of course we are already working on designs for our SS24 Collection. 

Of course, as with any fashion forward company we are interested in the current catwalk trends, but more importantly, we know what we like to wear and also what the NAIA woman likes to wear to feel her confident best. So we start with looking at the feedback we have from our loyal customers; since it is integral to us that we maintain the flattering, glamorous and timeless style Naia Beach is now known for.

How would you describe your working relationship?

T: A bit like a marriage. Seriously, it’s a good job we get on so well because we spend all day EVERY day (and most nights) talking to each other! About NAIA life and everything in between! I honestly couldn’t have done this with anyone else. We work incredibly hard; we trust each other implicitly but we also laugh a LOT!

G: First and foremost, we are friends, and more like family. We work closely together on all aspects as we have the same drive and vision for the brand, but we also know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so we have fallen very easily into defined roles which brings out the best in both of us.

Tess And Gayle Window
Gayle Lawton and Tess Daly

What originally inspired Naia Beach?

G: We were on a family holiday together in St Tropez and we both struggled to find swimwear that ticked the boxes that NAIA now does. Amazing quality, stylish designs which also fit beautifully and made you feel confident wearing them.

T: We both decided that if we couldn’t find what we were looking for while in one of the swimwear capitals of the world then other women must be having the same problem. 

You launched as we were coming out of lockdown – a tough time to do it?

G: Absolutely! We launched when there was a travel ban so it made it even more of a challenge. What lockdown did do was give us the time to focus on NAIA and really be creative with it. We worked on every element of the brand from the name to labels and packaging, the website… the list is endless. 

T: It is all our work and we are incredibly proud of it. And we had a sell-out which is quite an achievement for any new brand in their first season. It made those long hours of hard work totally worth it.

Why did you feel what you had to offer was different?

G: We knew there was a definite gap in the market for well fitting, beautiful quality, glamorous, figure enhancing designs because we simply couldn’t find them ourselves.

T: We both have a huge interest in fashion and design and combined experience of over two decades working in the fashion industry. I have lived in most of the world’s fashion capitals from Paris to New York and beyond and was lucky enough to work with many of the leading designers as a fashion model; both in catwalk shows and in editorial shoots in magazines.

G: I was a swimwear fit model for many years, working with many high profile brands who actually fit their designs to me, so I knew exactly how swimwear should look and all-importantly FEEL in order to empower the wearer, so combining both credentials we felt we had the necessary skills and experience to create something uniquely special. 

Why is sustainability important to you?

T: We are always inspired by the beautiful world we live in, and we are absolutely committed to doing our bit to help keep it that way, which is why the new collection features more pieces made from recycled and upcycled materials. 

G: We feel we have a duty to ensure we protect the world we live in and make sure it’s a world that our children and their children can enjoy. 

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How would you sum up the past three years for Naia Beach?

G: Just incredible. A huge learning experience; of course, starting a new business isn’t without its challenges, but ultimately it has been so SO rewarding.

T: It’s a little bit like giving birth: exhausting yet ultimately exhilarating and hugely rewarding. And we genuinely couldn’t be prouder. We are incredibly grateful to our gorgeous NAIA women who tell us they’ve never felt more confident in swimwear, and they embody what our brand is all about. They literally feel like extended family and even share their holiday snaps with us!

What would you say is the biggest thing you have learnt so far?

G: To really listen and take advice from people when they are generous enough to give you their time, use it and always be grateful for the support.

T: When it comes to business your team are everything and good vibes totally RULE; goodwill is everything in business; hard work makes it happen, but goodwill maintains it and keeps it running smoothly.

What else does Naia Beach have coming up this year?

T: It feels like a really exciting time for NAIA, we are growing both here in the UK and globally. It’s a privilege being able to work creatively in a business that’s a genuine passion project of ours and we fully intend to keep up the hard work to maintain that momentum.

G: We are gaining demand from customers all around the world to be sold in stores local to them so that is a huge drive for us. We are also showcasing our collection in Miami for the world’s biggest swimshow, and this is the first season we launch our winter Cruise/Resort collection . 

What would be your ideal summer holiday?

G: The south of France always holds a magic for me, that I just can’t describe. So, for me it’s a family holiday, a nice beach with good food and drink, music and beautiful cobbled streets with interesting shops and a culture that you can really engross yourself in.

T: In a nutshell; family and friends, long lunches, lots of rosé and plenty of glorious ocean swimming; in NAIA of course!

When back home, do you have some favourite summer spots in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire?

G: We are really fortunate to live in the Chilterns with some beautiful walks to choose from. We are looking up to live quite close to the Thames so riverside walks are always a treat. We take our dog out on Sunday for a long walk and always end up in a country pub for a Sunday roast.

T: I’m a real foodie and there are some wonderful places quite locally that would be high on my list of recommendations including Cliveden House, The Waterside in Bray or for a real treat Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Top of my to do list this summer is to have stand-up paddleboard lessons. I found a place that does them on the Thames in Runnymede. Having fun while keeping fit sounds like a good idea to me!


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