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Shop Strange: Strange Bikinis offers adventurous swimwear for every body

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As Reno’s only dedicated swimwear boutique, Strange Bikinis has carved out a niche celebrating body positivity, adventurous lifestyles, and sustainability. Selling more than just swimsuits, Ali Conway opened the Dickerson Road boutique in 2017 with a mission to create comfortable and flattering swimwear for multiple body types.

“The vision was to create the most flattering and fun swimwear that fit a curvier frame. I wanted the brand to be approachable, not just aspirational to the everyday woman,” Conway explained. “As my body has changed since my mid 20’s, and now being a mother of three, I realize the market is underserved for a woman’s ever-changing body.”

The designs are a large part of what sets Strange Bikinis apart. But, in addition to the look of the suits, Conway also prioritized materials and overall comfort when creating each piece. “The way they are constructed to be smooth and comfortable and reversible sets them apart,” she said. 

Inspiring confidence is the main goal of her designs, according to Conway. She wants women to feel good in bathing suits, even if their build is athletic or soft. 

Image courtesy of Strange Bikinis.
Image courtesy of Strange Bikinis.

“We also like to focus on how these bikinis are made to stay put and hold up, no matter how adventurous the wearer wants to be, ours are bikinis that are just as good when you’re laying by the pool as they are when you’re jumping off a cliff,” Conway said.

Her vision for swimsuits made for paddle boarding, kayaking, cliff jumping, surfing and more was emboldened while working at a surf shop in Morro Bay.  

Conway’s background in fashion, her creative spirit and her journey with her body over the years led her to create Strange Bikinis, a perfect culmination of her life’s work. “I always had an eye for art. Even as a young child, I won many awards for my creativity. I loved to dress differently and had fun with fashion. I loved swimsuits ever since visiting Italy as a teenager and seeing the ‘tiny’ swimsuits on everyone.” 

A graduate of FIDM Fashion School in Los Angeles, with a career in product manufacturing, gave Conway the know-how to design swimwear and open her own business—and a Nevada Green Business at that.

Conway focuses just as much on the carbon footprint of her business as she does the final product. In addition to keeping manufacturing in-house, the company also hosts “plogging” events, which are combined jogs and trash cleanups. They also host a polar plunge annually called The Big Dip that benefits a local eco nonprofit.  

She’s also giving back in other ways, sharing her business acumen with the greater community, including University of Nevada, Reno students. “I personally frequently speak with the community about entrepreneurship and small business. I offer internships through the University and work with youth to hopefully inspire creativity and cultivate small business ethos even further.”

Strange Bikinis is open seasonally. People can shop at the store on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during summer or by appointment. If you’re looking for an off-season suit, the best bet is to shop online at strangebikinis.com. A warehouse sale is held each October, and appointment-only shopping hours are provided in a pinch. Conway suggests following the brand’s Instagram (@Strangebikinis) to stay in the know. To set up a shopping appointment, email [email protected]

“I would love to encourage people to shop small business. It takes a ton of time, effort and money to produce goods in the USA,” Conway said. “Small apparel businesses need customers badly. Big conglomerates are slowing eating us up and I’m worried small artisans will fall away.”

Nora Tarte
Nora Tarte
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. Nora received her bachelor's in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento before graduating from University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a master’s in Professional Journalism. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.

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