A investment banker who worked at a London-based company, Anna Jerstrom discovered herself using a glut of unused vacation days when 2009 came to a close. She chose to give surfing camp in Costa Rica a go.
That trip changed every thing. Jerstrom, who grew up in Sweden, loved the game so much that she quit her job, moved to Costa Rica and became a surfer.
“It was like Blue Crush, with no handsome leading man,” she states. “I was super-scared, but I fell in love with surfing.”
CalaveraWhat Jerstrom did not love was surfing apparel for Women’s Swimwear, ill-fitting bikinis. “You’d be outside in the waves, then walk from the water and literally you’ve dropped your bottoms,” she states. Though Jerstrom made lots of her own clothing, she had no professional expertise as a designer. But she’d have sketchbooks full of ideas. Jerstrom’s designs incorporate eyelets and other closures commonly used on men’s boardshorts, as well as hidden spots to protect car keys and other essentials. The bikini bottoms have Velcro and less elasticity in the band, so they do not slide every time a surfer gets pounded by a wave. The tops have tie systems which prevent pressure on the throat.
Jerstrom increased $150,000 in seed money from 10 investors, largely through contacts from her days in the finance market. Together with the initial funding, she started making the matches and sponsored five surfers to test the designs. They listed 55 videos that demonstrate the suits’ functionality from the surf–useful, since the bikinis seem deceptively simple (and skimpy).
“Our client does not just want our merchandise,” Jerstrom claims. “They want to be that girl on the surfboard.”
Jerstrom, who still surfs regularly, streams a lot of the videos to the business website. The interactive site, the only place surfers could find the item through 2011, allows shoppers to custom-design a suit, picking from a variety of styles, colours and sizes. The bikinis price between $90 and $100. “We are known for our men’s boardshorts,” says Jesse Watson, Katin’s general director. “Many women’s lines are only adorable, but not made for active stand-up paddlers and surfers.”
Watson ordered the lineup after seeing swimsuit Calavera’s online videos along with also a comic-book-style promotional mailing. The key to success, he says, are to train his workers to understand the way the suits work and also to articulate that to clients who initially see only a hot bikini.