Sustainability has become the topic of conversation more and more recently. There are existing brands needing to figure out how to become more sustainable as well as up-and-coming brands who are fully rooted in sustainable practices. One such brand that’s tackling this issue is LA-based Arrow + Phoenix Swim. This Direct to Consumer company sells swimwear that’s made from recycled water bottles and is focused on inclusive sizing. Sustainability and body positivity are at the core of their brand and have been since they started seven years ago in 2012. Somewhere between sporty and spirited, Arrow + Phoenix is all about using fun colors, nineties influenced styles and silhouettes that are as comfortable as a second skin. Functionality is essential, but above all else, they want women to feel like the gorgeous goddesses that they are while also giving back to another gorgeous goddess: Mother Earth.
VESICA is privileged to have had the opportunity to sit down with Arrow + Phoenix founder, Kayla Bell to discuss her brand and to learn more about why diversity, sustainability and body positivity are so important to her and to the world we live in today. Kayla or The HBIC (Head Babe in Charge, that is) shares with us her take on these trending topics of conversation and how A+P couldn’t be where it is today without all the babes out there.
VESICA: How did A+P Start?
KAYLA BELL: I was in high school when I decided I wanted to build a brand but wasn’t at all sure as to where to begin or how to go about starting one. Swimwear naturally came to be because it was so hard to find bikinis that were supportive but cute enough that I’d want to wear and that’s when I began creating my own. Aside from knowing I wanted to create a brand, I knew I wanted to have a philanthropic edge. From there I figured, what better way to raise awareness of saving the ocean that through bikinis?
V: What’s it like starting your own business and being a Direct to Consumer brand in 2019?
KB: We started back in 2012, and at the time, sustainability wasn’t at the forefront in fashion the way that it is now so we had a hard time at first finding fabric vendors who had sustainable aspects to their fabric making process. Now that we’re in 2019, it’s been great to see other brands along the same wavelength succeed.
V: Where has A+P taken you?
KB: This brand has taken me and my team places that we never imagined. We’ve been to Toronto, done incredible things in Las Vegas, Miami, Washington DC, and Palm Springs as well to name a few.
V: Favorite place?
KB: My favorite place to Visit is Toronto because I love the food, love the culture and love their museums. I’m also itching to get to Italy and Greece in 2020 to shoot swimwear campaigns.
V: What can we find in your suitcase?
KB: If nothing else, you can always find a bikini or ten in my suitcase along with sunscreen, tons of gold jewelry, chapstick and face masks of all kinds because airplane air can sometimes be harsh. I also always have sneakers and workout gear because I secretly love hotel gyms.
V: What products does A+P currently offer? A little birdie also told us that you’re launching activewear in next season’s collection. Tell us more about this!
KB: YES! We’re so excited to launch Arrow + Phoenix Sweat as our sustainable activewear line, The colors are so fun and the silhouettes are so comfortable so we’re super excited to share with the world very soon what we’ve been working on.
V: Tell us more about sustainability and what it means to you.
KB: Sustainability is so important to us simply because there’s so many ways (some bigger and some smaller) to help planet Earth so we as a brand just want to do our part as well as spread awareness to others and give them ideas as to what they can do to help.
V: Why is being a sustainable company so important to you and to the world today? What makes a brand “sustainable”?
KB: Being a sustainable brand for us in 2019 is important because our ecosystem is only getting more and more damaged so as time goes on, brands like ours are doing our part and calling to action that of our customers so it's been great seeing the response from our customers.
V: Today’s consumer is smarter than ever before and they expect a certain level of transparency from the brands they purchase from. Some large companies have struggled to keep up with the times, but a brand like A+P is focused on the things others are lacking. Namely inclusivity, diversity and (body) positivity. Talk to us about this. How to do you promote these through A+P and do so in an authentic way?
KB: When it comes to our brand, I feel that so many people resonate with us because we genuinely stand for body positivity and inclusivity. No two of our customers look the same and that notion is not lost upon us so we make sure to keep that in mind when we create content and post. It’s my favorite part of my job, honestly.
V: What are you most proud of?
KB: To date, I’m most proud of the fact that this year alone, we made it into Sports Illustrated’s Swimwear Issue, participated in our first runway fashion show, and are sold in more stores.
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