Vitamin A’s iconic collection is designed to flatter women’s curves. We caught up with the brand’s designer, Amahlia Stevens, who is working from home as the world works to flatten its curve.
“I wore perfume for our FaceTime call,” Stevens said. It was one of the sweetest things to hear during the virtual chat with the founder and designer of the feminine, sustainable swim line. It’s all part of the “new normal,” she said, as we chatted about how this pandemic is forcing a shift in work-life balance.
To Stevens, Vitamin A is more than a brand. Toting the message, “Sustainability is sexy,” Vitamin A has a mission and community that cares about wellness, lifestyle and connecting on a deeper level. As an innovator who is passionate about the Earth, Stevens is dedicated to reducing her eco-footprint so much that when she couldn’t find fabric to fill this need, she was inspired to create her own. EcoLux, her proprietary material, is a premium swim fabric made from recycled nylon fibers. By using recycled and organic textiles and packaging materials, manufacturing locally and being as energy efficient as best as possible, Stevens wants to encourage the community to do the same.
How is it, working from home during a pandemic?
We are having zoom meetings, which are a novelty. While our team was always semi-remote, we would get together a few times a week. Now, it seems like everyone is getting more done at our big online round tables, aside from those with kids — that’s hard. My husband and I are lucky to be able to split up the time, taking shifts to watch our girls. Many moms can agree, there’s guilt about feeling like your missing out on your kids’ life. Now, in a twist, it’s a blessing to be with our kids and family all the time.
We are also seeing our local community come together and achieving a new balance. We are being taught to be people again, in a way: baking bread, planting a garden, painting with watercolors. There’s a magic happening in neighborhoods, too. If you need garlic or cumin, with a quick text to a neighbor, it appears on your doorstep.
Trade shows are off. Traveling is on pause. How are you responding?
It’s a never-ending shift. We are working on a virtual plan because the show must go on in a new format. We are looking into virtual show-rooming and new ways to navigate the world with what can do. We show the line through FaceTime, Zoom and video.
Top of mind is how are we going to have the line photographed. Will it be flat lays? No hair and makeup on a photoshoot? Should we photoshoot the models spread apart? One thing that’s working are virtual fittings. Our models do the pinning themselves.
We also can’t do our big lines right now. There’s a need to pare down and refine. While most of our fabrics are made in California, many come from Italy, which closed first. Many of our manufacturers are closed too.
Your community of beach and sun seekers are home. How are you engaging?
We shifted the mentality of design to be even more essential, which is what Vitamin A is all about. But essential doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. We have to have fun.
We are nurturing our community with a “holistic lifestyle” approach, filling them with things they need to feel good and happy, like loungewear, a yoga pant or bike shorts — comfy California weekend clothing. Pieces that go with the swimsuits or on their own.
We also have live Instagram events featuring people who inspire us. Influencers, such as Maria Calderon, are sharing demos on how to create sustainable tie dye in your home. We are offering yoga workshops with Heidi Stevens, meditation and more @vitaminaswim.
Have you seen any unique trends?
Actually, we noticed more sales of black at the start of the pandemic when it’s usually spring break season. We’re not sure why. Maybe it was the mood of the country or an investment piece? I’m a big fan of the LBB — the little black bikini. But in a short time, people were buying color!
Also, there are ways to be multifunctional with our swimsuits to fit the new lifestyle of home, work, life and swim. As an example, the Bedette body suit is being styled in three ways: bathing suit, with jeans for work or shorts for going out (virtually), making it a good investment.
Who is inspiring you these days?
I’m really into sustainable home sites like the Zero Waste Store; I get lost in their posts. It’s also fun to see what influencers like @theSaltyBlonde and @leahpbradley are doing.
Are there any specials for our readers?
Sure! The audience can shop the Vitamin A collection and take 15% off. Use the code DANIELLA15. Follow @vitaminaswim for events.
Daniella Platt is the author of the new book, “Looking Good,” and she writes about women innovators. To be featured, please reach out to her at lookinggoodyaya.com/thebook.