Meet Gladis Kiambiy, the Founder behind the diverse swimwear range ‘Culture of Swimwear’. Growing up the young Entrepreneur struggled with her weight and as she often travelled the continent she found it increasingly difficult to find the right type of swimwear. Swimwear was often catered for women that had slimmer frames or looked a certain way depicting that beauty only came in one size and form. Breaking the stereotype and feeling frustrated with the lack of diversity, Gladis decided enough was enough and created her own swimming designs. The Bold African prints are taking the world by storm, we discuss Diversity and Inclusion in the swimwear industry, balancing a 9 to 5 with a growing brand and much more.
Can you tell me about your brand and why you decided to start culture swimwear?
My weight had often fluctuated over the years and between 2013-2015 I was traveling to Florida lot. Whilst there I visited the beach areas. The one outfit that I was lacking was swimwear. I will find that all the local retailers will create the same type of swimsuit which were either bold or in one colour or cater more for Slimmer women. I found this highly frustrating and at that point I said “I’m designing my own swimsuit”.
Do you believe there is Diversity and Inclusion when it comes to the swimwear industry and what changes would you like to see?
Initially, when the idea of Culture Swimwear was conceptualized there wasn’t much diversity and inclusion. However, I believe recently there has been more diversity and inclusion within the swimwear industry which is amazing. There are now brands who offer different types of swimwear to meet all needs. One of the main changes I would like to see is more diversity swimwear for Men, Children and Maternity swimwear.
You balance a 9 to 5 with a growing business, what are your tips on working full time and balancing a business?
It can be very challenging, there are times that I enjoy the challenge and there are times that I necessarily do not. Reminding myself prior to Culture Swimwear I held down 2-3 jobs and during University I still continued to work 3 jobs and ended up with a 1st class degree. My tips are to remain focused, I will be honest the pressure will get to you however as long as you stay focused nothing can defeat you.
Can you tell us about your designs and what is the inspiration behind them?
I get inspiration for my designs when I come across swimwear brands and think of ways in which I can improve on it. For example, if I see a swimsuit that’s plain, I think of ways to add colours and improve the design.
Mainly African prints and culture are an inspiration behind my designs.
Who would you like to see in your swimwear brand? Are there any women in the media that you would love to see rocking the swimwear?
I am hoping for my swimwear will expand to Men and Children.
Therefore, I would like to see my Swimwear reach out to artists in the UK such as Stormzy, Lethal B, Jamelia, Stefflon don, Ms banks not just here in the UK but also in the US, Congo, Ghana and many more.
Discuss a life of an entrepreneur?
It’s all about balancing, learning from your mistakes and taking in your mistakes.
Where do you see the brand in the next 5 years?
Hopefully in next 5 years I will be more established in the US and Africa and would love to explore the idea of creating swimwear for other cultures.
What was your highlight moment last year in the world of Culture swimwear?
To be honest everything, from gathering the final pieces together, the photoshoot, meeting the models, receiving support from my friends and family and receiving shout outs on my Instagram even from the people I don’t know. That was priceless.
You can find Culture Swimwear on Social media culture swimwear.
Written by: Lawrencia Nelson