Shopping for swimwear, Tiffany Rivers was as stranded as husband Philip is on the football field when no receiver is open and large men are converging on him.
Philip often chucks the ball away then.
Tiffany chose to team up with friend and San Diego State graduate Marisa De Lecce to start a direct-to-customer company — Hermoza — that’s meant to fill a gap they perceive in the women’s swimwear market.
In vain the two women, each in their 30s, had sought swimwear that met their standards: chic yet not overly revealing, elegant yet durable.
Something between ill-fitting, conservative bathing suits and barely there bikinis.
Recounting their fruitless quest, De Lecce sounded like many San Diegans who for years were exposed to the machinations between City Hall and Chargers operatives regarding a new football stadium.
“Years and years of tears,” she quipped, drove her and Rivers to create Hermoza and absent outside financing.
A March 1 launch is planned, and while her husband’s bubbly presence in the Super Bowl tournament can’t hurt with the start-up’s brand recognition — a Google search of Philip Rivers yielded 54 million results Thursday — there’s a strong element of coincidence to how large events are unfolding in the Rivers’ world.
The Chargers’ playoff status was an unknown last April through July, when Hermoza was conceived.
As it happens, March 1 is the expected arrival date of the Rivers’ seventh daughter and ninth child. Hence Philip’s quip that “twins” are coming.
Life before this business venture was not dull for Tiffany Rivers, who can be seen in north San Diego behind the wheel of a 12-passenger van.
Her eight children range in age from three to 16, with five of them home-schooled. One son has Type 1 diabetes, and another son has multiple food allergies.
“Obviously, I don’t have a whole lot of extra time,” she said. “Most of my hours are into the family and my children.”
But, ramping up a business, she said, “has really been fun for us because I have three teenagers now that are all girls, and they’ve loved kind of being part of it and kind of stepping in. It hasn’t been too much work.”
Tiffany Rivers said she is not a natural at organization — “I’ve learned to be organized. You learn what you need to do. Now, I actually enjoy being organized and very scheduled because it makes life easier” — but that the inclination to start up a women’s swimwear line was organic.
“I just see a lot of it as, anything worth doing is hard work, but for my daughters’ future, as women coming up, it’ll be neat for them to have that as an option and broaden their horizons for their fashion if they would choose to wear these suits or not. It’s such a beautiful thing we are doing.”
USC graduate school alum De Lecce is a master of detail, said Tiffany, although one large career detail about Philip Rivers eluded her when they first met 11 years ago in the Rivers’ kitchen.
“What do you do for a living?” she asked.
Told he played football, she asked what position. Told quarterback, she had one more query.
If Hermoza’s bold, vibrant designs using fabric from an Italian supplier were to generate as much praise as powder-blue Chargers uniforms have garnered the past five decades, then its manufacturers in Los Angeles and Asia will be put to the test.
Winter apparel was first on the clothing agenda this week for Tiffany Rivers. Sub-freezing temperatures are forecast Sunday for the divisional playoff game in Foxborough, Mass. She will bundle up the older children who make the trip. Like her husband, she has developed her own outer layer to cope with hostile segments of football crowds.
“Sometimes we’re outside and it gets intense,” she said. “The fans from the other team are harder to deal with than the actual weather. You know how that is, with the playoffs. It’s just intense. But it’s fun, though. My kids really love it.”