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@Work: 3 Virgins Homegrown Bikini Co.

June 28, 2005 – If you're shopping for an up-to-the-minute bikini, the 3 Virgins Homegrown Bikini Co. might just have what you want.
"Our suits are designed for free-spirited and confident women everywhere," Julie Lonski said.
In early June, Lonski, Jen Service and Rani Keohane opened shop at a 1961 Volkswagen Bus located in front of Coccoloba shopping Center on Route 107 in Coral Bay.
"The bikinis have lots of originality and style, and they're a little more sexy than the traditional American cut," Lonski said.
Service added that she and her two colleagues were inspired to develop their own bikini company because they couldn't find "really great" swimwear.
Tops and bottoms are sold separately. They're priced at $48 each. Those that reverse from a solid to a print run $52 per piece. Cover-ups are $42.
They come in sizes ranging from very small to generous. Bottom styles include cover-up shorts, boy shorts and low riders. The tops come all the way up to DD and in styles that include string, halters and bandeaux.
The three ladies design and manufacture all the bikinis at their shop located outside Cruz Bay at Palm Plaza. Keohane does the design work and the sewing with input from the other two. Since they're made right on St. John, bikinis in new fabrics and colors arrive weekly.
They take turns staffing the Volkswagen Bus-shop at Coccoloba.
A canopy shades the bikinis and keeps the rain off. A cabana tucked behind the Volkswagen Bus serves as a changing room.
"We like the open air feel, and it's like an old-style Coral Bay business," Lonski said.
The three have a variety of backgrounds. Service, 35, worked in California as a manager in the seafood and produce industry. After moving to the Virgin Islands, she worked on charter boats. Keohane, 34, was an art teacher in Tuscany. Lonski, who's shy about giving her age, was a human resources director in various industries. She last worked in Princeton, N.J. She and her husband, Mark Lonski, moved to St. John five years ago to open a landscape business.
"We all have creativity," Keohane said.
Lonski said the Volkswagen is part of their marketing strategy. She said that women come in to try on the bikinis while the men like to look at the restored Volkswagen Bus.
Selling out of a bus also provides a safety net in St. John's sometimes volatile retail real estate market. Lonski said that if this location doesn't work out for one reason or another, they can always move.
"Retail space is incredibly expensive. What happens when the landlord says you're out of here," Lonski said.
Although they've been open only a few weeks, Lonski said they've developed a good local following.
And they all said they go the extra mile in helping customers find a suit that fits and flatters.
If you buy nine pieces – either tops or bottoms – you get 25 percent off on the 10th piece.
The 3 Virgins Homegrown Bikini Co. is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon until 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Call them at 340-344-3263.
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