By the twisting winds of fate, the beautiful soul that is Tricia from Blithe Bikinis was dropped into my lap. A regular day that started kinda rough was made brighter by her joyful voice.
As I perused her website I was immediately charmed. Her diverse models and beautifully shot product images transported me to paradise. It was like I could hear the waves lapping at the shore and feel the sun on my face.
Tricia, a vivacious 52 year old woman, is basically the embodiment of who I want to be. I don't know if I have ever met someone who personifies the term Free Spirit like Tricia does. The mother of a beautiful 13 year old, Kaia, (who I also got to meet thanks to the wonder of the Internet). Tricia is a Warrior Woman who is hard at work battling the negative ideals and limitations that society places on women’s bodies.
Tricia designs and manufactures swimwear for all women’s bodies. She seeks her inspiration from the shapes of bodies and spirit of women. She wants women to have access to swimwear that they are excited to wear. She wants women to come alive in their swimsuits.
Tricia vows to wear what she wants unit she’s 110! While her goal is to welcome the some 60% of women whose bodies are considered “other” she isn’t about excluding the other 40%. Her bikinis are for everyone. She encourages women to come into her home for Bikini and Bubbles parties and work with her to build their dream suit.
Tricia started her journey in the swimsuit world in 2015 with Badass Bikini Company. With the tagline of “Every Woman Should Feel Like A Badass in her Bikini” Tricia was sourcing bikinis from suppliers all over and bringing brands to the Hawaiian market that they normally wouldn't have access to. While she found many beautiful products she definitely saw a void in the market. The suits lacked size diversity and she couldn’t customize the suits to fit the bodies of the women who would be wearing them. Blithe Bikinis was born. What’s the meaning behind the name? Blithe means to be carefree, untamed, and live life your way. Blithe Bikinis is “Swimwear for the Untamed”. They are not just a swimwear brand, but a lifestyle, embracing everyday real women in their own lifestyles and adventures.
Tricia has teamed up with the powerful seamstress Cathie, A.K.A. Badass Seamstress Cathie, also in Hawaii. Their partnership is collaborative. Both design the suits, and work off each other’s creative energy and visions. Tricia will design a suit and Kathy’s technical eye will tweak it to perfection. This Hawaiian power couple are going to take over the bathing suit world. Tricia’s daughter, Kaia at 13, also designs for her age group, to bring more diversity and styles for pre-teens and teens to choose from as well.
One of Tricia’s proudest bikini moments was when a woman came to her booth at market and told her she hadn’t worn a swimsuit in over a decade. She would go to the beach with her husband and 2 children in her husband’s shorts and a t-shirt. Tricia worked with the woman to create not only a suit for her but matching ones for her daughters. Created with a vintage looking fabric with little roses on them, the ladies stepped out on a beach day. Tricia’s customer was radiant on the beach and her husband took a million photos of his beautiful family frolicking in the surf.
There’s a new trend in plus swimwear - 2017 was the year of the stomach. Most plus bikinis follow a pretty standard formula: high waisted, vintage inspired and covering as much skin as possible while still being a two piece. This year the plus community has be embracing the belly and showing them proudly. Blithe Bikinis is ahead of the trend on this one. With her build your own bikini women can build the suit of their dreams. Tricia encourages women to celebrate their bodies and she refuses to hide her stomach. “My stomach is my journey”, she says and I see her arms move as if to hug her middle.
The conversation turns to her daughter, Kaia. At 13 she is tall and lithe and she thinks her mom is a little bit crazy. I assured her that there will come a time that she will be grateful that she has a spitfire mom. At such a young age people have already started commenting on her body; too skinny, eat something, etc. Tricia tries to break down the shame that society layers on her daughter. She shows her daughter that acceptance is for everyone.
Currently Tricia and her daughter are visiting family in Tricia’s hometown of Virginia Beach. The two went to the beach to have a relaxing mother-daughter day and celebrate the 4th of July. Adorned with bikinis and armed with floaties and Old Glory, they set out. Tricia was wearing a cheeky bikini bottom on her curvy body. A random stranger told Tricia that she was going to get arrested for wearing a thong. Tricia simply told her that it had started as a full bottom but it had just crawled right on up there!
Beyond the breathtaking photography on the Blithe Bikini website there’s something else you might notice. Her sizes are listed as Adorable, Beautiful, Incredible, Stunning, Gorgeous, Fabulous and Amazing. She doesn’t like the current sizing labels. “I don’t feel ‘Extra Large’, I’m not my size”. There is so much stigma placed on sizes so she created her own. Every suit listing comes with a size guide. I’m size Fabulous for those who were curious. When working with customers she urges them to get past their size. Consultations always begin with “What styles do you like?”
The custom creation process gives complete control to her customers. They choose the styles, the fabrics and any customizations that they may want. Then the suit is created specifically for the customer and her body.
Speaking with Tricia is just pure joy. Her enthusiasm, positivity and purity is infectious. Her vision to bring beautiful swimwear to all bodies is one that I can get behind.