Sure siblings Howard and Gail Sonnenschein seemed destined for their roles as purveyors of wholesome fun via their "Disneyland meets the beach" site Bikini.com. Between their swimwear fabric manufacturer father and swimwear boutique proprietor mother, walls of the family abode donning vibrant fabric as opposed to wallpaper wasn't atypical, nor was co-producing swimsuit specials for E! Entertainment Television.
A beach brand with a diversified revenue model (of which licensing things like swimwear and calendars featuring Bikini.com supermodels brings in most dollars) and a multifaceted site that resurrects Frankie and Annette fun seemed the obvious route the duo would take. But Howard always knew "founder" would follow his name. "I love the word [entrepreneur]," he says.
Good thing, because the Sonnenscheins should enjoy a long haul with Bikini.com, founded in 1997 with the intention of getting their guy- and girl-friendly beach programming to TV. Expecting profitability next year, the site has already received great reception, a cover piece in Variety and meetings with TV execs after exhibiting at a trade show last January. "I feel the same as I did when we invested our savings and were working in an apartment," says Howard. "It's like being a bull in a bullfight-just charging ahead until it happens."
They secured the perfect name ("If we didn't get that exact name, we wouldn't have done the project," says Howard); they've also gotten about 50 investors from entertainment, merchandising and the VC world. Expect to see and hear a lot more from the Sonnenscheins.