angela chittenden - from swimsuit model to swimwear maverick
You'll find Beach Bunny Swimwear gracing the beautiful bodies of the world's sexiest women. But if you want to find the woman who designed these drop-dead gorgeous suits, you'll have to look inside her Orange County, CA office. There, behind the towering stacks of fabric swatches and hardware samples, founder and designer Angela Chittenden is hard at work on her next best-selling creation.
The brains - and body - behind Beach Bunny Swimwear, Angela's passion for couture kicked in at an early age. Ever since I was a little girl, I've always loved fashion and swimwear, she explains, taking a momentary break from her jam-packed schedule to speak about her design philosophy. So being able to combine the two is a dream come true for me.
Angela's all grown up now - a mother of two daughters and four step-daughters ranging in ages between one and fifteen. But she's managed to keep her spectacular figure and her sense of fun. Both of which inspired the launch of her breakthrough swimwear in 2004.
As a former swimsuit model, Angela had the chance to wear hundreds of different suits. And none of them ever felt right, she recalls. Either they were too conservative with too much coverage, or they weren't very classy. There was nothing out there that was sexy and elegant. So I decided to design my own.
In designing that first Beach Bunny Swimwear line, Angela knew she wanted to create something different, something special, something that would let women show off their bodies, feel sexy and confident, glamorous, flirty and fun all at the same time.
She searched for unique fabrics, experimented with sexy cuts, added embellishments and hardware no one had ever thought to add to swimsuits before. Rather than looking at other swimwear designer lines, she found inspiration in the bedroom, blending elements of upscale lingerie into her styles.
Some people said I was crazy, that my designs were too risky, too out-there to catch on, Angela remembers with a sly smile. I guess they were wrong.
Angela's boudoir-inspired lines were an instant hit with women looking for swimsuits that make a bold statement. By ignoring trends, Beach Bunny Swimwear started setting them. And grabbing the attention of the fashion, media and celebrity worlds. Sports Illustrated dedicated more pages of its Swimsuit issue to Beach Bunny Swimwear than any other line. Soon, iconic women from the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Fergie to Cheryl Tiegs and Cindy Crawford were hitting the beaches in Beach Bunny suits. And Angela found herself featured in a slew of media outlets including USA Today, Vogue, People, InStyle, E! and Extra.
Not bad for a designer with no formal training - just a serious passion for fun-loving swimwear hand-sewn in the good ol' U.S.A. In fact, Angela credits the success of her line in part to her self-taught design skills and instincts. We do whatever we want, without paying much attention to what other designers are doing. This creative freedom is what makes our suits so unique, and so popular. Every woman is different. They want swimwear that reflects their individuality.
Angela also credits her success to the outstanding team around her. Believe it or not, Beach Bunny Swimwear is a family-run enterprise, with Angela's father balancing the books as the company's CFO and her sister leading up wholesale accounts. Even her step-daughter has expressed an interest in getting into the family business.
My family has been incredibly supportive and patient, says Angela. My daughters Presley and Nikolai, my step-daughters Kaelin, Jordan, Payton and Jasmin, and their dad have been a tremendous source of inspiration for me. Angela is also quick to acknowledge everyone working in her office and store, who often know before Angela which suits are going to be the season's smash hit.
Angela continues to find inspiration for her swimwear, not only from the people around her but from the places she visits. A voracious traveler, she's always on the look out for textures, colors, tones, hardware and fabrics she can borrow for her designs. I'm using the color of the bark of this incredible tree I saw in Belize for one suit, she explains. I just got back from Dubai, where we'll be opening a new store, and fell in love with the beautiful jewel tones I found there. You'll see that in the new line, too.
While always thinking about the next design, Angela is also thinking about the future of her company. With the opening of several retail stores in Los Angeles, Scottsdale, Miami Las Vegas and Dubai, Beach Bunny Swimwear is quickly becoming an international brand. So how does this small-town girl originally from Iowa handle the success, and the pressures that come with it?
She'll be the first to admit, running a successful high-end swimwear brand is not always a day at the beach. But I love what I do. I feel like the luckiest person in the world, to be able to create something that celebrates women, their beauty and strength and personality, every day. This motivates me to work harder.
But like the women who wear her suits, Angela also likes to have fun. When not creating her next break-out design, she enjoys traveling, loves to dance, and of course relishes every second with her kids and the man she's been with for almost ten years. So, if Beach Bunny Swimwear is designed by a mom, does that mean mothers can also wear them?
Absolutely, agrees Angela. I'm thrilled to see how much our audience has expanded. We're seeing more mother-daughter pairs come into our store, buying matching suits. Beach Bunny Swimwear is for women of all ages.
So if you're on the hunt for a sassy new swimsuit that shows off your every curve, then bring your sense of fun - and your mom - and head over to Beach Bunny.
The Beach Bunny brand is a modern-day success story
With all the elements of a classic fairytale, it's playful, adventurous and undeniably luxurious. But most of all, it's fun and since its debut in 2004, Beach Bunny has become an international sensation.
The Beach Bunny customer knows that with a Beach Bunny swimsuit and a smile, she can go anywhere and feel like a goddess. You'll see her preening at pool parties in South Beach, sunning on the sands of Malibu and striking a pose on the super yachts of St. Barts. Yet she's equally at ease at her girlfriend's backyard bash. Whether in their early 20s or late 40s, college graduates or corporate VIPs, Beach Bunny is designed for couture-conscious women who are ahead of the curve. The brand's flirty-fun attitude-daring, confident, independent and ripe with feminine allure-is a celebration of each woman's own unique spirit.
Like the Beach Bunny woman, the brand is going places. 2012 started off with a splash as Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover model Kate Upton joined Beach Bunny in Belize to shoot their Spring/Summer campaign. Kate modeled nautical inspired suits seen in the Shipwrecked collection and dived into The Deep Blue wearing styles accented with summer lovin' colors and eye catching prints. Since modeling swimwear is second nature to Kate, it was only a matter of time before she went behind the camera to create her own sexy designs. Beach Bunny is pleased to present Kate Upton for Beach Bunny which showcases suits that represent her fun and vivacious personality.
The brand takes yet another stride in 2012 introducing the oh-so-chic Beach Bunny Bronze collection. Shot on the bronzed and beautiful Kate Upton and inspired by the golden sandy beaches and crystal clear water of the Mediterranean, the line features bold prints and sun darkened earth tones accented with pops of lagoon blue and airy white. Beach Bunny Bronze can easily mix and match offering a versatile wardrobe with a flawless touch of glamour.
From Beach Bunny's summer-ready sandals and wraps to signature loungewear, eveningwear and even Beach Bunny Bride-an exclusive bridal swimwear collection adorned in hand beaded pearls, delicate Chantilly lace and Swarovski crystals- the possibilities for an elite lifestyle brand transcend every season and product segment.
With an exceptional brand comes an equally extraordinary shopping experience, one that elicits rave reviews from patrons and press alike. From its first branded boutique in Scottsdale, AZ, to the long-awaited flagship store in Newport Beach, CA, to debuts among the posh fashion houses of Robertson Blvd in Los Angeles, Miami and The Dubai Mall, enter a Beach Bunny boutique and be transported to a seductive multi-million dollar yacht decked in teak woods and contemporary eye candy. Each Beach Bunny swimsuit is sold separately to flatter every figure, promising the perfect curve-hugging fit and reinforcing every client's belief-rightly so-that no two women are created equally.
Eight years after its unveiling, Beach Bunny has arrived and with its fuel and legion of loyal fans across the globe, this brand is not stopping anytime soon.