We had the good fortune of connecting with Rosie Shapiro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rosie, why did you pursue a creative career?
I grew up in Ojai, CA, where my free spirit, creativity and artistic abilities were greatly encouraged. Whether it be drawing/painting, singing or playing guitar, pottery or anything fashion related, I felt most fulfilled when doing something creative or imaginative. While growing up, the school I attended in Ojai focused on critical thinking, the natural world and individuality. Still the typical school subjects didn’t necessarily bring me joy or inspiration. Even when I was very young, I knew that I was going to use my creativity and expression as a career, if possible.
After high school, I went to Paul Mitchell cosmetology school and had a career as a hairstylist in a salon setting doing hair and occasional makeup for photoshoots and weddings. After seven years in the beauty industry —although I was feeling fulfilled, innovative and successful — I went back to school to study fashion design at FIDM. After graduating, I worked in a showroom but decided to pursue my greatest, longtime passion; I knew it was time to start designing my own brand of swimwear. Being a creative business owner allows me more flexibility with my schedule and enables me to work mostly from home, so that I can also prioritize spending a lot of time with my two-year-old daughter. Having the opportunity to be with my family and to grow a career from my passion to create are true blessings that I deeply appreciate.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally? Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way? What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
From a young age, I was deeply inspired by nature, art and the nearby beaches. My upbringing inspired a life of environmental awareness, so my designs are eco conscious but modern, effortless and comfortable. Being eco aware is really important to me; therefore, my intention with Rose Lion Swim is to lessen the environmental impact of our swimwear. I am really proud to offer a line of that is ethically produced while integrating seamless, feminine, functional styles that are also luxe, timeless and fresh. Rose Lion Swim is made from regenerated nylon made from landfill and ocean waste. The swimsuits are derived from 78% recycled polyamide and 22% elastane, made by ECONYL®. This company works in partnership with healthyseas.org to use discarded fishing nets pulled from oceans to make the regenerated yarn in our fabric. With every suit we produce, we regenerate marine debris and waste, thanks to our environmentally friendly production process. We are committed to using repurposed materials for hangtags and compostable packing bags. I wanted Rose Lion swimwear to be manufactured in the U.S. with openness and transparent ethical practices. After learning of an L.A.–based fashion development and production house specializing in independent and emerging designers, I now have an ongoing working relationship with this wonderful group of skilled artisans. I am excited to push forward in our ethical, sustainable practices while producing beautiful designs.
Getting to where I am professionally today was a journey in itself. I was in the midst of a successful career as a hairstylist, but I realized that I had a deeper passion. Taking a leap of faith, I dove headfirst into a pursuit of owning my own swimwear brand. It wasn’t easy. After uprooting and moving to Los Angeles, I committed to becoming the best student at FIDM that I possibly could. This included years of sleepless study nights, 30 days in Paris touring ateliers and fashion houses, spending hours at the sewing machine, and always staying late after class to work harder. Since I was a few years older than many of the students and had returned to school, I approached it very seriously. In the midst of all of this, my dream of having a swimwear brand became clouded many different times, wanting to do couture, run my own showroom, even thinking of moving to NYC, etc. After a couple years, I realized that my dream of creating well-made, timeless but modern and stylish swimwear kept coming back to me.
Sorting out the details of creating a line was challenging since I was so committed to sustainability. I had to research where to get the suits made, where to find sustainable fabric and materials, where to produce the tags, etc. It took a lot of trial and error and word of mouth to finally be able to lock everything into place. All of that took more than a year, while feeling discouraged at times. As I kept learning and finding solutions, I actually became more patient and understood that quality takes time.
Throughout all of this trial and error, I have learned hard work pays off and that patience, determination and persistence is absolutely necessary along the way. I want the world to know that I care. I care about people, the environment, my impact, my craftsmanship, and how damn good you will look in my swimwear.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week-long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc. In your view what are some of the most fun, interesting, exciting people, places or things to check out?
LA has so much to offer. Spoiler alert: I’m a Westside girl, although I love Hollywood and Downtown, but Westside has always been the best side for me. Breakfast is my jam, so I would recommend Huckleberry Bakery & Café in Santa Monica. I would then suggest heading over to Abbot Kinney for a mimosa at the Tasting Kitchen and cruise around the stores. For dinner, I would have to recommend Scopa in Venice for some of the best Italian food and craft cocktails. Days on the Westside can be spent lounging on the beach, walking down the boardwalk, and people-watching for hours. Driving up the coast to Malibu is a must and eating lunch at the pier at the Malibu Farm Café. Although all of that is quintessential California, I would then venture to the other side of town for the Melrose flea market and a cruise through Hollywood. My clubbing days are long gone, but I would hit some of the more neighborhood spots on the Eastside after dinner at Salazar in Los Feliz.
Alright, so let’s jump right in! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So, is there a person, group, organization, book, etc. that you want to dedicate your shoutout to? Who else deserves a little credit and recognition in your story?
Call it cliché, but without the support of my mom, dad, sister and husband, I would not have been able to be where I am today. They have all contributed as driving forces encouraging me to pursue my dreams and supporting me along the way. My mom, a writer and editor who always helped with late-night editing of school papers, has also been a fundamental pillar for the Rose Lion Swim brand. Also, a few teachers at FIDM, John Swiatek and Nino Via, really paved the fashion-design road for me and were true mentors who taught me everything I know about patternmaking, sewing, technical design and hard work!
Linkedin: Rosie Shapiro
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