Q: How did you get your start in fashion design and more specifically bikini design?
I began sewing at 9 years old because I wanted to create dresses for my Barbies and teddy bears. As I grew older, I began to create or recycle clothing for myself. When I was in high school, I made bikinis and was selling them to my friends and family. Soon enough, I was making bathing suits for delegates of the Miss Hawaii beauty pageant. I refined my sewing skills and design influences and began sending in submissions for Sports Illustrated.
Q: What made you decide to start your business in Las Vegas?
In Hawaii, bikinis are more function than fashion. I wanted to move Kate Swim to a place where people are in constant need of an outfit that stands out and looks great. I decided to move the business to Las Vegas, where pool parties are popular, tourism is high and cost of living is much lower than the big fashion cities.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in starting your own business?
Taking that leap of faith. Chasing after what you love and spending years to build it is a very hard thing to do. You have to make up your mind that you will succeed and never give up no matter how many times you fall.
Q: Are there challenges to being a young and/or female business owner?
I do find, at first sight, people are surprised by me. Being both young and female, sometimes it works against you. I have found that as long as you stand your ground and fight hard for what you believe in, people will respect you in the end.
Q: What was it like to have one of your suits featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition 2012?
It was the most thrilling time in my entire life. Sports Illustrated is very secretive about the entire issue, so I had no idea that my suit was featured on the cover until it was revealed. Once I was able to get my hands on the issue, I also found eight more suits featured inside. The 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition was extremely exciting as well; we had nine suits featured.
Q: What advice would you share with anyone who is looking to start his or her own business?
My advice is to take the leap. Starting a business means you will work extremely long and hard hours, with lots of stress, but in the end it is all worth it. Follow what makes you happy and that is what will in turn make your business a success.