This is a sponsored post written on behalf of KEA.
As some of you may know, I originally started this blog because of surfing. I went surfing for the first time in 2011 and fell head over heels in love with everything about the sport and the experience. I came home and I couldn’t shut up about it and I wanted to share my experience with people. Enter the blog.
One of the amazing things is learning that I’m not alone. That there are many women who have been inspired by the sport of surfing, so much so that they’ve blazed a new life path for themselves. Patricia Kwok is one of those people.
Patricia studied fashion and worked for Tory Burch in New York. Then there was a surf trip to Nicaragua that made her realize she wanted to take her creativity in a new direction and create a surf-inspired lifestyle brand that brings together the sea and the city. So she started KEA.
I had a chance to sit down with Patricia and to talk about surfing, KEA swimwear and the lessons she’s learned while building her business. I love doing interviews like this and meeting people like Patricia because it’s great to see how people put their vision into action
1. How did you come up with the idea for KEA? What made you decide to start the company?
I started KEA because of a lack of stylish swimwear in the market targeting women who are active in the water. After working in the fashion industry in New York and Hong Kong, I wanted to combine my experience in design and merchandising to build a brand that also reflected my love for watersports.
2. Who’s the KEA woman? What’s she like?
The KEA woman is smart, confident, curious and adventurous. It’s all about the attitude in which she embraces different experiences.
3. What’s behind the name KEA? Is it short for something?
KEA is a bird that is indigenous to New Zealand. Known for its intelligence and curiosity, it has a reputation for being mischievous by the locals. The KEA woman definitely has similar characteristics!
4. Tell me more about the city-to-surf aspect of the brand. What’s the inspiration for this? Why is it important for you and the brand?
Having lived in incredible cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong, I’ve always enjoyed their (relatively) convenient access to the great outdoors. It’s that momentary escape to the ocean (or mountain) that keeps our senses more alive and aware. With this mentality, I hope that KEA products transcend this duality of being both functional and stylish – what looks good can also function well.
5. What sets your products apart from other active swimwear brands? What style elements excite you?
We offer a high quality product that focuses on where fashion meets performance. Our fabrics are sourced in Italy and have UPF 50+ rating (highest UV protection available in industry). They are also extremely chlorine resistant for those who are looking to swim indoors.
Style elements that excite me are being able to accentuate the female figure in unexpected places. One piece suits can often be extremely sleek and flattering if cut correctly!
6. What’s your longer-term vision for the brand? Will we ultimately see bags and resort wear?
Ultimately, KEA will offer bags and resort wear. The longer term vision is to have a well-rounded lifestyle offering so any products that promote sports and healthy living will not be ruled out! However, at this stage we are focusing on women’s swimwear.
7. You’re working in an industry (swimwear and surfing) that tends to objectify the female body. We see a lot of skimpy swimsuits and booty shots. How does that impact what you do and how you do it? How do you build a brand for the modern woman within this industry?
I see this as an advantage for KEA as it sets us apart and offers a point of difference. We may not offer a lot of skimpy styles but we encourage women to stay fit and look great through sports.
A lot of the brand message can be subtly built into the language which we use to promote our product, the models that we choose and even the styles that we decide to offer. These are all seemingly small but important decisions that ultimately aim to portray a healthy and positive image.
8. How long have you been surfing? How did you start?
I picked up surfing while I was at my cousin’s wedding in Hawaii a few years ago. It seemed like a good place to try it out!
9. What’s your favorite surf spot?
A secret spot that shall not be named in northern Nicaragua. 🙂
10. What’s one piece of advice that has stuck with you as you’ve started on this journey to build your company?
Be all in.
11. Where can people buy KEA?
You can buy KEA swimwear online at KEAGEAR.COM. We offer free shipping for orders over $100. We will also be selling at select Equinox shops in LA, Miami and Texas starting May 2015. Check out our website for more details.
12. My must haves in my beach bag include…
A very strong sunscreen, a large hat, a good cover up and an inspiring read (in case there’s no surf!)
This is a sponsored post written on behalf of KEA.
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