PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY YOU SHOULD KNOW: Howie and Gail Sonnenschein – Web Purveyors
Founders of Bikini.com
Who are you?
Gail: We are the brother and sister co-creators of Bikini.com, The World’s Biggest Beach Party. We grew up in the swimwear business and worked in television before launching Bikini.com in 1997.
What do you do in real life?
Howie: Although it sometimes feels like working at Bikini.com is a dream come true, this is my real life. When I’m not at the office my favorite thing to do is to paint.
Gail: International sex appeal is the most popular subject matter on the planet, and we cover it in a good, clean, fun way that makes it fun for both guys and girls. Fun in the sun has been part of pop culture for years – from Frankie and Annette to Baywatch, every generation has had its own way of enjoying it. We present it in a hip and fun way for the new generation.
Howie: The girls come to look at the latest swimwear fashions and the guys come to look at the hot models.
How did you come up with the concept?
Gail: We were working in television in the early 90’s and saw the popularity of Baywatch and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and felt there was an opportunity to create an advertiser and retailer-friendly beach lifestyle brand that centered around the concept of wholesome sex appeal.
Do you make money or is this just for fun?
Howie: We’re in the business of fun! And yes we make money.
How often do you update your content?
Howie: We do photo shoots all the time in our Lincoln Road studio and also in various locations around the world.
Gail: We update some content daily and some weekly. We’re updating not just the website but also our popular YouTube channel, our mobile channels and our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Who shoots the models?
Howie: I’m the photographer for about 90% of the shoots. My background is in photography — I started shooting models when I was 14 years old and haven’t stopped since.
What statement do you hope to make?
Gail: Things can be sexy, fun and wholesome, all at the same time.
Howie: With all the stressful, crazy things going on around the world, Bikini.com is the one place where you can come and have a vacation for your mind. We say that Bikini.com is where everyone smiles all day.
What sets Bikini.com apart from other websites?
Howie: It’s definitely sexy, but tasteful and fun. We’re known for our graphics, which take inspiration from the 1960’s Beach Blanket Bingo movies.
Gail: Bikini.com isn’t just a site with pretty girls – it’s a lifestyle. In addition to the beautiful women, we also feature cool guys, so we’re fun for everyone. And we’re also very active in covering swimwear fashion — so we’re all about everything related to fun in the sun.
How has Bikini.com been received?
Howie: We’ve been very fortunate that since we launched in 1997, we’ve had many millions of fans and have been featured in everything from Entertainment Tonight to MTV to the Wall Street Journal. Access Hollywood actually called us “bigger than Star Wars!”
Any well-known (celeb) names that Bikini.com has photographed?
Howie: One of our most popular videos right now on our YouTube channel is of Supermodel Kate Upton, who has appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Guess ads and Victoria’s Secret. And one of our Bikini.com All-Stars, Shendelle Schokman, while not a household name, is a viral hit on YouTube with almost 8 million views.
What is one good article/feature that stands out?
Howie: I really love the design of our Bikini.com homepage.
Gail: I’m proud of the Top Swimwear Trends video piece.
What is the one thing we should know about you personally?
Howie: I am the proud papa of Ralph Wellington, the happiest turtle in the world, who has over 8,000 fans on Facebook.
Gail: Even though I run Bikini.com, I’m actually a one-piece girl.
What do you do now, that you did not do 5 years ago?
Gail: Mobile entertainment was really just getting started as an industry five years ago. Now mobile sales is a major revenue stream for us.
Howie: When Bikini.com was based in New York, we used to have to travel all the time for photo shoots. Now we can just walk downstairs and we’re at one of the most beautiful beaches in America.
What passion have you had that you have accomplished?
Gail: We’ve always had a love for producing television shows, and we’ve just started to get back into it with our first new Bikini.com Style Special which will be airing in Miami Beach on The Beach Channel.
If you had to move to a deserted island what 2 items would you take?
Howie: My Canon 5D Mark II camera and my iPhone.
Gail: My mom and my dad.
Something new that you have just discovered about yourself?
Howie: I never used to like spicy food but now, if it doesn’t make my eyes water, it’s not hot enough.
What are your guilty pleasures?
Gail: HGTV’s House Hunters – I love guessing which house the buyers will choose.
Howie: I love to photograph dogs, sometimes even more than swimsuit models.
One luxury that you cannot live without?
Howie: Veggie burgers from Houstons.
Gail: Having coffee in the morning on my balcony overlooking the ocean.
Three Words to describe you?
Gail: We can’t describe ourselves but we can describe each other. Howie is really funny, creative and loyal.
Howie: Gail is smart, vivacious and a perfectionist.
Howie: We’re moving into television, live events and international distribution of our content. What Baywatch did for Southern California, we hope to have Bikini.com do for Miami.