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Interview with Johanna Chone, founder of Nalu Swimwear

What inspired you to start this business?

The concept of Nalu was born in 2020 when I was on a trip to one of my favorite places, Hawaii. Hawaii is special due to its unparalleled natural beauty, unique local culture, and of course, its waves. As a model, I have an immeasurable amount of bikinis in my personal collection already, so I was looking for something fresh and unique to spice up my look while on vacation. When it comes to swimsuits, I like to buy pieces that are stylish and sexy, but that also have elegance, quality and class. After checking a few stores I loved that most of them are sustainable and very classy but I was seeing they are still missing something. The common swimwear on the market were all somewhat similar in style, and pieces with the body cut that I was looking for showed skin but lacked elegance. I always loved designing and during quarantine I took the courage and started creating and from then on the rest was history. My goal was always to launch my own company as I evolved in my modeling career, and my mission became bringing my creative vision to life. I decided to name the company Nalu, which means wave in Hawaiian, as a tribute to the special island and people live on it.

How did you get the brand going?

To get a brand going, it needs a good team around you and due to my traveling and also living here in Miami for over a year now being in the fashion industry, I am blessed having amazing people around me who are experts in different areas from pattern making, creating the brand identity – including sustainability and local charities- over marketing. Only as a team it was possible to get the core of the brand build in such a short period of time. I feel very fortunate being part in this year Miami swim week 2021 with Paraiso. I let my creative juices start to flow and realized that fashion design is my true passion. I was creating designs faster than the samples could be produced, and it was happening naturally for me without the effort required when one usually thinks of “work”. I was attracted to the idea that style, uniqueness, attractiveness, elegance, quality, and class could be meshed together to create what I consider the perfect swimsuit.

What is your ultimate goal with Nalu?

I have two main objectives that I hope to achieve with Nalu’s success; female empowerment and giving back to the environment and communities around the world who could use a helping hand. I hope to empower women by making them feel beautiful yet respected for their elegance when they wear my pieces, and to provide unique items that women can choose to reflect their own individualism. My collection includes a wide array of colors, fabrics, shapes and sizes in a manner that reflects my ongoing stream of creative consciousness and is not what you see on the market today. As Nalu scales as a business, I am planning to locally manufacture pieces by giving fair trade labor opportunities to impoverished communities in countries worldwide. We’ve currently used local fabric sourcing and manufacturing, and love supporting small businesses in the Miami community.

What motivates you?

I’m motivated by the passion I have to be creative and design pieces that are truly different than what exists on the market today. When I see Nalu’s designs on other women and feel how their emotions lift when they see themselves in Nalu Swimwear it drives me to want to create more and more. I’ve always been a person who is in tune with the feelings of others, and it really drives me to see my work genuinely make women feel proud, confident, and happy. It’s exciting to bring a new product to a market that is a bit stale and saturated with designs that look similar across most brands. Nalu is a disruptor that the swimwear industry needs, and that lights a fire inside of me.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned so far as an entrepreneur?

As a founder of a new business, you have to be able to handle multiple situations at once and learn how to approach things from new angles. Dealing with people becomes more important than dealing with product, and as a business leader I’ve learned how important it is to motivate not only yourself, but also those around you. Flexibility in thought is key, especially when the goal is to disrupt an industry and break the mold.

What final words do you have for all of the readers here?

Check out our pieces online at www.naluswimwear.com and follow us on Instagram @nalu_swimwear to find out about our exclusive product launches! Watch our live stream of our show at Miami Swim Week on July 11th at 9pm on Instagram @nalu_swimwear. Thanks! 

This special series was designed for the 4th of July to monument America’s comeback from the recent pandemic and how we strive forward together through good times and hard times. The color palette of this collection reflects the American flag and the dream that America represents, an inclusive set of values and opportunities for everyone.

America was built on COURAGE, on IMAGINATION and an UNBEATABLE DETERMINATION. Nalu is following the same spirit. My final worlds will be:

In the honor of 4th of July- set your goals high!”

Photo credits:

Photographer: Gonzalo Feo

Graphic Designer: Kath Hoelck

Models: Johanna Chone, Paige Jimenez, Gabby Jones

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