Karissa Matthews, a senior criminal justice major from Atmore, has created a new line of handmade swimwear called Ris Nicole.
Matthews said although she never saw herself as an entrepreneur, she believes the idea for her business was God-sent and knew she had to pursue this venture.
“I had a dream one night, and then I woke up the next morning and a weight loss commercial with a girl in a swimsuit was on, so I called my sister and said, ‘I’m going to start a swimsuit line,’ ” said Matthews.
“I am very proud of my sister … for her to be her age, she’s accomplished a lot,” said Nakiedra Johnson, Matthews’ sister.She’s so driven.
“I’m 10 years older than her, and she’s an inspiration to me.”
She began planning for her business in September 2016, and the business launched in February of this year.
“I wanted to have the business side correct, such as my business license, accounts, and to see if I could get possible investors,” Matthews said.
She then found a seamstress and learned necessary information to start her line. With the help of the seamstress, Matthews began sewing her very first creations.
She then found models with various body shapes, skin colors and unique styles to represent her brand, encompassing her dedication to produce a product line that would accommodate women of all sizes and shapes at an affordable price.
“I wanted to start something that would be made for everyone and that would inspire girls and not be too expensive,” said Matthews. “So my swimsuits are between $15 to $25.
“It’s quality, but it’s not as much quantity that you have to spend into it.”
However, the affordability of her products has not hindered the company’s financial success.
“Ris Nicole prices are affordable, but that hasn’t caused a strain on the business by not gaining a profit,” Matthews said. “We are not stopping at swimsuits; I also have sundresses for women as well as swimwear for males and infants’ swimwear.”
Matthews started taking orders through Facebook before starting her website, earning up to 40 sales every two weeks. Now sales are carried out on her website, www.risnicole.com.
“I think it’s amazing,” said Kianna Clarke, a junior biology major from Atmore and Matthews’ best friend. “I think it’s going to go worldwide because a lot of people from different states are ordering things … I think she’s doing real good.”
As expressed by many of Matthews’ family and friends, she is inspired and motivated by her mother. As a child, Matthews would watch her mother sew to learn the practice for herself.
“She just wants to be successful and make her mom proud,” said Charmia Hollinger, a junior nursing major from Atmore.
As a criminal justice major, Matthews hopes to become a lawyer while controlling all aspects of her business.
“I’m hoping it can become international … I can only hope the best of my friend,” said Hollinger. “I believe that she can do whatever she sets her mind to because she’s proven everybody wrong already.”
Swimsuits can be accessed on her website: www.risnicole.com, her Facebook page, ”The Ris Nicole” or on Instagram (@ris_nicole).