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Even the most confident among us know the plight of swimsuit shopping. Harsh lighting and a one-shape-fits-all design mentality are just a couple of the factors that make it ever so difficult to navigate swimsuit shopping in an era when the thin-white-female body still pervades the media landscape. That landscape is starting to evolve, though, and one of the brands paving the way is Kitty and Vibe, a swimwear company disrupting the fashion industry. Kitty and Vibe’s founder and CEO, Cameron Armstrong, has done away with traditional swimsuit sizing. Instead of picking an arbitrarily sized small, medium, or large bikini bottom, at Kitty and Vibe, you select your hip and your butt size. Now, skimpy bottoms can be your choice, not a decision forced upon you. And if your issue is filling out even the smallest of bottoms, Armstrong has you covered there with small-booty options, too.
Armstrong didn’t stop at sizing when she considered how she could create a body-positive swimwear brand. She took every step—from advertising imagery and marketing events to the fitting experience itself—and gave it new life. For ads, the company seeks out professional models, yes, but it also opens the door to its entire clientele, the only requirement being they’re comfortable in front of the camera, because the entire purpose of the company is to make everyone—female-identifying and non-binary—feel seen and confident.
“After all,” Armstrong says, “wearing a swimsuit is the most naked we are in public, which oftentimes makes the product very anxiety-inducing.” To overcome this, the brand has done the legwork to create a super-exciting and positivity-fueled experience when you receive your Kitty and Vibe swimsuit in the mail, with the hopes that those initial good feelings will stay with you when you wear your swimsuit in public. Curious to see what it came up with? Read our interview with Armstrong below, and then check out her favorites from the brand.
First of all, how are you?
Doing well, thanks for asking! Back in Brooklyn after a four-month quarantine with my family.
Tell us about yourself and your business.
I’m Cameron—my friends call me Cam. My biggest reason to get up in the morning is relationships. I love connecting with people, whether it be a stranger on the subway or my roommates. My best skill is remembering people’s names. I have a brother with special needs, who is the best person I know. My favorite color is purple. I’m 26 and live in Brooklyn, New York.
I was on a hip-hop team throughout college, and the beautiful diversity I experienced while on that team directly influenced what I wanted to create through Kitty and Vibe. I define the success of Kitty and Vibe through making someone’s day brighter, whether that be through boosting their self-confidence with the best-fitting swimsuit they’ve ever owned or by posting a photo on social media that makes them feel better represented.
What inspired you to start your business?
I started Kitty and Vibe because I was fed up with the woes of swimsuit shopping: uncomfortable fitting rooms, poor sizing, overpriced products, and white-washed marketing campaigns. I wanted to create a brand that felt like something owned by a friend and had the power to transform women’s experiences trying on swimsuits. Kitty and Vibe’s secret sauce is our sizing metric. For every hip size, we offer two inseam options to accommodate differing booty sizes. I have a smaller booty, so I always hated the extra fabric in my bikini bottoms that gave me a diaper butt. I wear Kitty’s size S1, which means small hips with a small booty, removing that extra bunch of fabric and providing just the right amount of coverage—no diaper butts here!
How have social-distancing and stay-at-home orders affected your business? How have your priorities shifted?
The past few months have been quite a test in adaptability. The biggest shift we’ve had to make is moving away from our IRL events. We host quarterly body-positive pool parties across the country and had to cancel our 2020 events. However, we were able to bring the party home and did a digital campaign called A House Party for EveryBooty. Kitty lovers rocked their swimsuits in their bedrooms, danced to our curated playlist, and showed off their impromptu beach vibes via social media. We raised money throughout this campaign, enough to donate the equivalent of one month’s worth of clinician-led care to the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness.
Some people are finding joy in getting dressed and doing their beauty routine, even if they have nowhere to go. What do you think fashion and beauty can offer people right now? What has it done for you?
Fashion and beauty have the power to change your mood instantly. I’ve seen this proven time and again with Kitty. When you wear something that makes you feel sexy or supported or comfortable, it awakens your confidence and can transform your day. Every swimsuit we sell comes with a curated playlist that matches the “vibe” of the suit. Your order will come with an intention card instructing you to listen to the playlist and dance around your bedroom before trying on. We believe this enables you to have a very positive initial experience with the product, one that awakens and fuels your self-love. You can then harness that confidence and bring it with you to the beach.
Speaking of fashion, how would you describe your working-from-home style?
I’m all about comfort, so in the summer months, it’s almost always a flowy dress and flip-flops. I’m a big fan of linen and lightweight cotton, and cool colors seem to keep my stress down. I looked in my closet the other day and realized 40% of my wardrobe is baby blue.
Aside from fashion and beauty, what are some things that are currently bringing you comfort?
This time has allowed me to tap into my creative side a bit more. Week two of quarantine, I ordered a watercolor set, and I’ve been painting weekly. I’m a huge advocate of normalizing mental health, and this has been vital to surviving 2020. I have therapy on Mondays, and it’s an hour a week of time dedicated strictly for me. I encourage everyone to carve out that time, even if therapy isn’t accessible for you. Perhaps it looks like spending some moments to focus on your breath, get lost in a book, or walk around the block. It really makes a difference—I dare you!
What are two to three of your favorite brands you like to support and why?
So many! I’m super attracted to the carefree aesthetic of Cocokind and really love their no-hassle minimalist products. I love Sky Ting, a yoga studio born in NYC. They have a video subscription service that has been a savior for me during quarantine.
What’s one fashion or beauty trend we shouldn’t sleep on and why?
The other day, I was looking at all of my cosmetics products, and I was pretty shook by the fact that I couldn’t pronounce a lot of the ingredients. I’m leaning in hard to the clean-beauty trend, especially for everyday products like moisturizer and mascara.