Since childhood, hanging over her mom's shoulder and telling her how to sew her clothing, Ashlander Amanda Evey has wanted to design, create patterns and market her own line of women's swimwear — a dream that's about to come true.
As Bella Vita Swimwear, Evey, 34, is offering swimwear with classic design and smooth lines — no bunchy elastic — around waist and hips.
"Most mass-manufactured designs are flat — and our bodies are definitely not flat," says Evey. "No matter how much you pay for a swimsuit, it's going to have elastic at the waist ...and that makes it look like pinched fat. Even if you're skinny, like me, you don't want your waist or hip pinched." Her La Bella one-piece swimsuit does just that.
"A lot of one-piece designs are not cute and flirty. They look like a sack," she says. "What I'm creating are wonderful designs that are unique in their comfort and beautiful style."
In her Indiegogo campaign for $15,000 of working capital, Evey is promising various swimsuits — or the whole line — depending on the amount pledged.
Operating out of her house with herself as the only employee, Evey designs the swimsuits, fashions patterns and cuts the cloth. The suits are assembled in Portland by a former employee of Jantzen Swimwear. Evey handles everything else — promotion, copy writing, graphics, outreach on social media, bookkeeping and shipping to a hoped-for array of small boutiques.
"Designing is my favorite part of what I'm doing. As an entrepreneur on a budget, I have to learn to do everything," she said.
Most difficult, she says, is the steep learning curve as she does research and development on running a new corporation, which will do most of its selling on the internet.
She's been testing prototype swimwear for two years and is on the verge of her first production run, to be sold on www.bellavitaswimwear.com. She is taking pre-orders on two lines, the one-piece and the La Bandita, described as "a classy, no-pinch bikini-skirt and two different options of tops, triangle or bandeau."
Wearing the La Bandita with side-strap top for a recent photo session, Ashland model Danielle Kelly said, "It's really comfortable and makes me feel secure and confident."
Sporting the La Bella, Ashland model Briel Olsen said, "I love them all. I'm a mom but I still feel cute and flirty in them."
Wearing the La Bandita with triangle top, Ashland model Victoria Gower said, "I love it — the colors, the classic look."
In her Indiegogo promo, Evey writes she "draws inspiration for her swimwear designs from her enduring fascination with pin-up art. There is a serious lack of diversity in women's swimwear ... In response to the untapped niche, she creates fresh, cutting-edge styles inspired by the classics."
Evey got a big boost with her senior project at Ashland High School in 1998. She designed a line of clothing and marketed via local boutiques. All sold out. She took design and pattern-making at community colleges in Medford and Bend.
"I'm very self-taught and I've studied hard to be a successful businessperson," she notes. "If I can become a success, I can better give back to the community, spread the wealth, employ people and create good business models. I want to be the company everyone wants to work for — and I want to practice environmental sustainability through and through.
"I am really excited," she said. "There is no stopping me, no detouring me from my line of focus. I ride the waves up and down. Entrepreneurs have to have a lot of guts and commitment to follow something like this through. You're really putting yourself and all your time, money and resources out there. If it succeeds, it's wonderful and if not, you're the only one who goes down."
Evey's campaign is at www.igg.me/at/bellavitaswimwear.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at email@example.com.