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Rising Stars: Meet Melannie Bannerman

Hi Melannie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in Hollywood, FL and after graduating college, became a mother at the age of 22. After becoming a mother, my body changed. I felt uncomfortable showing my stomach and other parts of my body, but I still wanted to partake in fun activities like going to the beach or pool with my family and friends.

Swimwear companies always advertise the “perfect” bodies in their swimsuits, never adhering to all body shapes and sizes. I wanted to create something that could be beneficial to all body shapes, sizes, and colors. Chocolate Swimwear promotes body positivity and you will see that the models have relatable body types. As my brand grows, I plan to expand my market and continue to promote that every body is a bikini body!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
As a new small business owner, it definitely has not been easy. A lot of times, I want to give up, but that would be the easy route. Product sourcing, time management, and organization are skills I pride myself on. Sometimes it seems like 24 hours is not enough time in a day to get everything done.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I currently am a Clinical Assessor for a virtual clinic that offers mental health and psychiatric services. I also am in graduate school, working on my Masters in Social Work. My goal is to open my own group home for children and teenagers in need. In the future, I also want to get involved in the law side of social work and hopefully one day work with the Innocence Project, helping to exonerate innocent people. I also have goals of continuing to expand my swimwear brand. I want Chocolate Swimwear to be the first brand women think of when they need swimwear. Hopefully in the future, I can also expand to men and children swimwear.

I am most proud of my current accomplishments because I know this is only the beginning of my journey, and I haven’t given up. I have a 4-year-old son looking up to me, and I need him to be proud of me as well. As a single mother, I pride myself on independence. I want him to live a life where he never has to struggle or depend on anyone for anything. My motivation and drive may set me apart from others because once I have my eye on something, I don’t stop until I achieve my goal. Although the road may be long and hard, I keep my eye on the end result.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
I have learned that life is short. Life is too short to wait to accomplish your dreams. Life is too short to give up. Life it too short to not make that move. I have always been a spontaneous person, but after seeing so many people lose their lives, so unexpectedly from COVID-19, it made me realize that we all need to live our lives the way we want to. Don’t worry about what others may thing, live your life for yourself.

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