A pet project has blossomed into a million dollar business for a Hillside woman.

Ana Gavia began selling swimwear she’d designed as a side project while she put herself through medical school.

With about $200 to her name, she never expected what would happen next. In just two short years Ms Gavia’s business PinkColada has flourished and rakes in $1.5 million a year.

“I didn’t think this would turn into anything, I was a uni student with no money, so it wasn’t really something I’d ever thought about,” Ms Gavia said. “But I started posting online, taking out Facebook ads and things like that and quickly realised there was huge interest.”

PinkColada has become so big that Ms Gavia has had to defer her studies and admits it’s taken some time to adjust.

“I’ve had to get better at delegating. For a while I was trying to wear all hats – accounting, marketing, SEO and the rest,” she said. “But there comes a point where you realise you can’t do everything, which is something every business owner faces.”

Ms Gavia was recognised for her success, named the major winner of a competition run by American Express. She will receive a $30,000 business grant and private mentoring with Shark Tank’s Andrew Banks.

She plans to put her winnings towards marketing and further growing her business, with an eye on the overseas market.

“We expanded to the USA in May this year and the interest there has been even bigger than here,” she said. “We’re actually looking at setting up a warehouse over there.”

Details: www.pinkcolada.com