Ten&Lee, the colourful Caribbean inspired swimwear
Caribbean-rooted Tenneka Richards was disappointed with the lack of Caribbean inspired fashion that was available. Having grown up in the UK, she wanted to buy clothes to proudly show off her ancestor's heritage consisting of Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. So in 2014, Tenneka set out to create Ten&Lee, a premium swimwear brand that proudly shows off the different flags of the Caribbean islands. Available in a multitude of vibrant colours, Ten&Lee swimwear can be worn on the beach, to a rave or festival. Here to speak about her entrepreneurial journey, is founder Tenneka Richards.
Describe a typical Ten&Lee swimsuit wearer?
People who wear our swimsuits are women from Caribbean descent living in the USA and UK; local women from the Caribbean and tourists visiting Caribbean countries. Women in the Caribbean and from Caribbean descent tend to be very patriotic, so I knew developing Caribbean island swimsuits would be a great idea. My mother's family is from Antigua and Barbuda and my father's family is from Saint Kitts and Nevis. After searching everywhere for a swimsuit with their national emblems and being unsuccessful, I decided to undertake research in starting my own business. I started with online surveys using Mailchimp to local women I knew in London and Leeds from Caribbean descent. The feedback from the surveys I conducted showed a huge interest in purchasing a swimsuit to represent their heritage/roots and then Ten&Lee was created.
How did you start Ten&Lee?
I studied tourism at university and now work full-time as a marketing executive for the Institute of Chartered Accountants. The department I work in helps startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses to develop and grow their business. Because I attend a lot of business shows and workshops through my main job, I was inspired to start a business of my own. Currently, Ten&Lee is a side business and I would love to be able to expand the business, by developing a kids range as well as a menswear line in the near future, working on Ten&Lee full-time.
What are your favorite pieces?
My two favourite pieces are the Saint Kitts and Nevis (left) and Antigua and Barbuda (right) monokini’s because my family are from these islands.
What's your long-term goal for the label?
Well actually, our goal would be to generate medical care for all elderly residents across the Caribbean who can't afford to pay for treatments, operations and medicine. More social impact than fashion itself.
How can you wear a Ten&Lee piece?
You can wear one of our pieces to many functions; you can wear our monokini’s as a top on holiday; to a festival; carnival or a rave! Or you can wear it as a swimsuit on the beach or to a swimming baths.
Who inspires you?
My mother, she has always been so supportive in everything I do. My mum has always been extremely hard-working and huge multi-tasker from a career as a professional contemporary dancer in her earlier years to modelling; youth working and social working. My mum is the best role model I could have ever asked for, and she is always so optimistic about my plans and journeys.