CY: I love that – seeing it as a friend and not an enemy. Is that where the idea of calling the brand Kitty and Vibe came from? How did that come about?
CA: First and foremost, you’ll notice the sizing metric is one of a kind. So, with our bottoms — my biggest complaint when it came to swimsuits was that I always had too much fabric in my bikini bottoms. So, in the focus groups, I started measuring everybody. And I have no experience as a designer or in fit, I just had a measuring tape and was like “I’m going to investigate.” I found that at her inseam – from her belly button to her tailbone – essentially her crotch – her “kitty” was the biggest differentiator. So women who had identical hips had totally different inseam sizes. So I created this sizing metric that took into account differing inseams which usually means different butt sizes, so we had a longer way to go, so all of our bikini bottoms have two inseam options for every hip size.
So that’s where “kitty” came from cause I was measuring their kitties. That’s really where it’s from and this was like 2017 – think about 2016 the election and it was a huge women’s movement year and pussy power was there, I couldn’t call it pussy so I called it Kitty.
CY: I love it!
CA: The “Kitty” truly speaks to the technical aspect and the “and Vibe” encapsulates all of the emotions that come with it. So the suits have different “vibes”—prints that come to your doorstep with a mood-boosting playlist that matches the vibe of the suit. We kind of create a universe and persona by the print. It’s gotten to the point where customers refer to the print by their name, which in turn makes it feel more like a friend.
CY: The idea of trying on a swimsuit with a playlist to match the vibe of the suit is so cool and refreshing – what are you really hoping that women feel when they try on these swimsuits and listen to the music?
CA: Yeah! I think by playing the music ahead of time and you actually get into a positive mental space and it actually offers another tool to set you up for success because so often I think when women would try on the swim suit, they would not be in a good headspace, so it kind of breaks that pattern and sets them up for success.
CY: Since you mentioned getting into a positive mental space, I’d love to know, what is your idea of true confidence?
CA: It’s something I currently struggle with especially with social media and constant comparison. Like, “I didn’t take enough vacation and now I’m envious someone is on vacation”. For women a lot of it is about body image and just constantly comparing so I think true confidence is when you can break out of that mindset and just really be in your full self and feel comfortable where you are. When wearing a swimsuit it’s such an excellent opportunity and the biggest test you can give yourself, to see like, “this is me,” if you can break away from what all the stereotypes are and what all the comparisons are and can just be in your own moment and if you are happy in that moment, just for you, that is confidence.
CY: I agree. It is moment by moment, day by day. Speaking of confidence, you mentioned not having experience in fit or swim. What gave you the confidence to say, “you know what, I’m going to learn this from scratch and start this business?”
CA: I was looking around me and it really was at the beginning and the boom of female entrepreneurs and I kind of believe it was that time period, where I was like “women are making a difference right now and really starting to be taken seriously in business,” and I wanted a piece of that. I wanted to see how that feels. I think first and foremost I have to say a bunch of that confidence was already paved because there were women already doing it and succeeding.
I think that’s really what made me do the leap – just being immersed in New York City and seeing women already doing this. Just kind of being hungry for something that could be my own. Really building something with my own two hands – and if you DM the Kitty Instagram, it’s still me responding because I’m so attached to building those connections and seeing how my day to day work makes someone’s life better. Even though it’s a swimsuit it’s so much more than that, it’s really unlocking confidence and acceptance of women.
With Kitty because I was already breaking this barrier and making this garment feel like a friend, it was instinctive, when these women were writing me to say “I love you, I support you, I’m so in awe of you” kind of “so many feels,” I really continued with because that’s why people are so attached to the brand because the brand voice really is something that cares. A lot of times with swimsuits if you post a picture and tag the brand, they’ll like it and post one emoji.
CY: Right, like “we saw you.”
CA: And I’m like “ tell me everything, how are you feeling, thank you so much!” I feel like that has set the tone to feel less like it being aspirational and very attainable.