Hello LLN’ers, our lovely readers! Today we’re sharing with you a special post about some amazing ladies homegrown on Vancouver Island. They are Monica and Kelsey and their creation is Bikini Empire.
Bikini Empire creates fashionable, sweat-shop free bikinis made in Vancouver (yes! keepin’ it local!) from premium Italian Fabric. We wanted to get to know the girls a little better, while sharing their story, inspirations, and love for Vancouver Island with you, our reader! Which is why we have asked them a few questions to learn all about Monica and Kelsey and Bikini Empire.
Read on, enjoy, and then go take a look at their wonderful designs!
Q What is Bikini Empire and how did it come together?
A My twin sister Monica and I started Bikini Empire 2 years ago on a whim. She lives in the Dominican Republic and we were both spending a lot of time in the water, swimming and surfing everyday. Having the right surf bikini is vital, and we had a hard time finding bikinis that were sweatshop-free, and actually held up to our active lifestyle. One thing led to another and by summer 2014 we had our first collection of reversible, sporty bikinis with a very sexy Caribbean feel to them.
Q You girls are Vancouver Island born, yes? Where are you two from?
A Yes, we grew up in Maple Bay just outside of Duncan.
Q Since we LOVE exploring Nanaimo and area, we want to know: what is your favourite thing to do in the Harbour City?!
A Oh gosh, so many things! We love to hang out at the beaches on Gabriola, go for bike rides, drink beer and watch the sun go down! There’s also lots of great running trails so we take my dog running a lot. In Nanaimo a nice swim at Collery Dam followed by food at The Vault is pretty much ideal.
Q How does your environment influence your creative process when designing your bikinis?
A Both of us are surfers, adventurers and world travellers, so we design bikinis that we actually want to wear that will hold up to our lifestyle! I live on Gabriola Island, and Monica in the Dominican Republic, so there is no shortage of great beaches and stylish ladies to draw inspiration from.
Q What are your roles in Bikini Empire?
A I, Kelsey am responsible for the designs and the brand’s creative direction since our launch 2 years ago. Monica is the online strategist, branding expert and is behind the brilliant photo shoot concepts that we do.
Q What makes Bikini Empire stand out from the crowd?
A Sexy geometric shapes, great retro throwback styles and an amazing colour palette! Plus almost all of our suits are reversible, and we produce in Vancouver meaning our entire collection is sweatshop-free.
Q You have some great feedback from customers, what is your favourite customer experience so far?
A I think my favourite was getting recognized on the bus in Vancouver by someone who had bought one of our bikinis online and said she had never felt sexier or more comfortable at the beach. We get a lot of comments like that from women; most of us don’t look like runway models so what’s the point of designing clothes to only look good on runway models? We test all of our designs on different body types and shapes so we are 100% confident when we release a design that it is going to look great on most girls.
Q We know you sell your bikinis all over the west coast, but do you sell them in any other parts of the world?
A Yes, we have a strong online presence, so the majority of our sales are online. We ship internationally, and a lot of our order come from Scandinavia and the UK.
Q Where can our readers find/purchase Bikini Empire apparel?
Q What is your vision for Bikini Empire over the next 5-10 years?
A Right now we are focusing on expanding our regional presence, and by 2016 we want to have our bikinis in stores across Canada and the Caribbean. We know we have a great product, so we have our sights set high! Ideally, we want to have retail representation across North America and Europe within the next 5 years. Currently, we are working on a Kickstarter campaign to fund our expansion across North America. For anyone interested in pre-purchasing our 2016 collection, they can check out the campaign here.
If you’re interested in donating to Bikini Empire’s Kickstarter campaign, or just want to learn more about it, click here! There’s only 4 days left to support Bikini Empire, so hurry!
Thanks to Monica and Kelsey for taking the time to chat with Local Loves Nanaimo! We LOVE that these two Islanders have taken their passion and have created beautiful, ethical, and just all around rad swimwear for women.
~ Sarah & Sean