Do you stare at a blank canvas when searching for inspiration? Our brand was founded on many principles, but deriving inspiration from something bland was never one of them. At Karma Bikinis, we are inspired by beauty and salty summers filled with laughter and lots of coconut oil. For a while I knew I needed to get out of the job I was at and the current lifestyle I was living. Now with my brand Karma Bikinis I can use my passions to design unique swim pieces for all the socially aware babes. Originally I was 14 sewing and cutting fabric when the purpose of Karma started. This year I get to live my first endless Summer. It started in January in Thailand when “the sister duo,” first fell in love with Asia. Then we went to Bali to get our suits made. It was an amazing trip that inspired and refreshed my soul with the nested in every corner of the island.
“The sister duo” is what we call the founders of Karma Bikinis, my sister Julienne and I. We are 18 months apart and get along really well when we are not fighting about what to watch on Netflix. But mostly are time is spent working in beautiful parts of the world and tanning whenever possible. We are constantly on the go traveling checking in and out of airbnbs. Sometimes together and sometimes apart. No matter where we are always concentrating on making cute, sexy, comfortable bikinis for woman.
In Indonesia Julienne and I went to a small island called Bali. We joked and called it Australian Hawaii because of the overwhelming majority of Australians. We love the beautiful country and people but it seemed weird because everything was so cheap, yet their was such a diverse culture. There were still locals however but in some places like Kuta and Seminyak the economy flourishes off of the tourism/hospitality industry. Yet there are many locals who were not born in Indonesia living their occupying all of the good Vegan cafes. Did I mention they are to die for?
The more I see the more I like and appreciate natural beauty in everything, tasteful food, fine grains of sand, the crisp sound of the break of an ocean wave crashing onto a rock. How can one be constantly inspired without the constantly changing ways of the world. With our skimpy swimwear we need to be constantly by the ocean.
Not only can one be inspired with design but also when it comes to perseverance and drive. In Bali our patternmaker is a women who actually owns an entire operation that manufactures swim, silk wear, loungewear lines, and casual clothing. We met with her finally after months of correspondence through Skype and email. Intan came to our house 2 times when we were not there. She came because we had a photoshoot, a day earlier then the samples were supposed to be ready. On the third attempt we finally met with her.
I invited her into our villa. I discussed every detail with her about the new 2018 collection she was making for us. She listened and confirmed every note for when I spoke of the alterations. She ended up meeting with us two more times, all after 8:30 P:M for our convenience because we had shoots during the day almost every day. The operation she led was made of four factories which she managed. The best thing was how she made the effort to drive an extra hour just to meet with us every time. She worked hard to meet our deadline, her factory used materials only made in Bali and the quality of the suits were impeccable because they were carefully made by a group of women all over 35.
It was now 10:30 P:M and we were still at our villa wrapping up our meeting. I asked Intan about her day and work schedule,” I wake up everyday at 4am and stay at the office headquarters until 9:00P:M...when I work with clients I often stay as long as necessary,” she responded.” How an ambitious person, she was a mom and a business lady making a name for herself. She still has not gone out of Indonesia but with her great work ethic it should not be long. I was amazed by how much she can juggle on her plate and still seem to smile and laugh genuinely. We are happy to work with such a hardworking and inspiring individual to make our swimwear. The best part is every single piece of our swimsuits are made by the factories she managed, everything from the elastic, to the fabric weave, thread, sublimation printing, dying ect..
The stay was only for two weeks and it definitely changed my impression from what I saw from Instagram. When we flew in I was amazed by how large the island was. It actually took four hours to drive across it. We were never bothered by the drive. The thing was these excursions were always for campaign shoots, paying each model a premium just to accompany us on the windy roads. It’s all good though the air conditioned van had good vibes, it was even playing Bob Marley on its ‘vintage’ 90’s stereo. Everyone was mostly nice and were in good moods. Plus the drivers’ always had great stories. How could one not be happy in such a tropical paradise?
Infact so many brands travel out to the island for tropical campaigns. There are too many cute villas and hotels to stay at, with affordable rates unheard of in the Caribbean or Mexico, its an American beach lover’s dream come true. Bali is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the South Pacific, with arguably best surf spots in the world being in Uluwatu. The sand on the beaches are spectacular, clean, soft and white. At one of the shoot locations there was an awesome bar at the beginning of the beach with a restaurant that grilled corn and served iced drinks.
Going on these shoots was a great way for my sister and I to see some scenery from Bali because we were planning so much in between. On the way to these waterfalls and beaches there were the craziest most exotic looking flowers with vibrant colors. The water was always so clear at the beaches and the sand could fade into the shade of a white page. The monkeys were cute but we were warned not to get to close before they swipe your nice hat or pair of designer sunglasses. They would dance around the many steps down to the waterfalls.
But lets not forget how perfect it was having some Boracay Skin oil around. Shoots were not complete without a half bottle of @boracayskin tanning oil and shimmering oil plus we needed it every time we left the house because of the amazing moisturizing glow. Our favorite combination is the base coconut oil and then the shining oil layered on top. Please checkout their product boracayskin.com Four weeks later they were on set at our Miami Swim Week show and lathered all of the models from head to toe. You would be surprised the difference from our shoots with the oil and shoots without, it is a MUST. Plus your body gets super soft for days...enough said.
This was the start to paying creatives in our brand for their work. In the past models, makeup artist, hairstylist, even photographers were all working with us on a social media collaboration only. It was an ineffective way to learn how disorganized we were, but learning from failure is always important. Now that I look back to it our creative planning was minimal in the first five shoots in Bali but after each shoot we learned over time. The amazing creatives we worked with were so open to exchanging ideas and constructive criticism. We met creatives around our age some being just 18 and 19. In the past we had been working in the foodservice industry, and in education, all these industries the older people were always the ones who were dominating and being respected. Now millennials are taking over the world, starting with social media. Though you do need experience to be efficient you can find enough information on the internet to just go for it. Sometimes you land on your face sometimes on your feet, but it's awesome because in fashion everyone is young and going for it. It’s interesting to see how successful you can be however if you just push yourself a little bit further out of your comfort zone. What is fashion without risks?
If you see our Bali video campaign shoot you will know why so many young people like those creatives are getting sponsored by brands like GoPro. We were introduced to this group of videographers by stumbling on an explore page from Instagram. We stalked their page for a few minutes and instantly booked them for our tropical jungle campaign shoot. All of the campaigns were created specifically for our next fashion show for Miami Swim Week 2017 in July. We went and shot a super organic, nature oriented video which premiered before all the girls that came out on the cat walk. It was a huge hit and people were cheering and pumped giving all the girls confidence and energy to showcase the 2018 styles.
Anyways the island life can get to you. Bali is a dream, the beaches are wonders, the waterfalls are exotic, it's warm all year long, the food is delicious and healthy, plus the massages are equivalent to $7 per hour. The people are thankful and polite. They are also beautifully connected to Hinduism which brings a cultural aspect to the daily life.
As I mentioned before we were staying in a pool villa which was off Semniyak. The mornings where we didn’t wake at 4am for shoots were peaceful. A nice morning could be spent walking down the street and getting acai bowls, omelets or their bountiful avocado toast always loaded with heaps of avo and sprinkled with yummy feta.
We were staying in Semniyak a beautiful area that we stayed in for 2 weeks. This is a developed area that I like a lot. There are tourist but people are not as loud and rowdy as they are in Kuta. There are clubs that are fun and many bars that sell chic cocktails with ambient and edgy vibes. If your going out you might find yourself in displaced city bars and multi story clubs on an exotic island. Plus if you know any of the models that live locally they are part of the A list. Basically get into modeling there and you can get invited to any pool party or club. Basically, if you want the life of a social climber you can come out, or if you want to have a chill life come out.
We did so many honey face masks and then hopped in the shower to do a coffee scrub. By reaching out to an awesome brand we were thankfully provided skin care products that made us feel new again, by @duabody duabody.com. We like the mission of this brand a bunch because they really believe in cruelty free, toxin free products.
A huge reason I started our brand was to be balanced with travel, work and creativity. Our Karma lifestyle inspo is to have good thoughts, say nice things, and everything will come back to you. If you can have a balanced mind body and soul you will be truly happy. That may even start with what you're buying. Or with what you are wearing to the beach, your skin care routine. Now I’m doing what motivates me to be better, try to avoid at all cost what doesn’t inspire productivity in the sole or many purposes that defines you.
For the next few months the Karma Team will be coming back to the island, making new products and perfecting designs, doing pop up shops, creating more fun tropical island campaigns, meeting more creatives and living life the best we can with sand in our hair and coco oil drenched skin.
Thank you for reading