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Meet the Designer: Amahlia Stevens
There are few things more inspiring to us than woman-run companies. Here at Vitamin A, we are lucky enough to be inspired each day by our own girl boss and leader, Amahlia Stevens. While on location for our shoot in Croatia we got together with Amahlia to find out what inspires her and makes the Vitamin A line unique. While staying in Croatia with her family, including her adorable twins, we wanted to find out how she does it all. From her creative beginnings to where she is now, just how did the Vitamin A brand begin, what sets it apart, and where does she see it going?
How has your daily routine changed since having Gemma and Ruby?
Haha! That’s an easy question because I literally never had a daily routine before my kids were born! I now wake up before dawn most days, see my kids off to school, run down for a dip or up for a hike, and then head straight to the design studio. I always get home in time to share the evening with my family, and often finish up projects once the kids have gone to bed.
How do you manage your time?
Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurial moms?
I feel lucky and blessed to have a wonderful balance of creative work time and family time. I can focus on my personal life and business life, because I have the best of both worlds and one inspires the other. I am always excited to get to my studio, passionate about my work and about new doors that open each day… And then I’m beyond thrilled when it’s time to shift gears and go home to my family. I am grateful for times which meld both work and personal life, like beach time with my new little family.
Have you had any goals or long-term aspirations
change or evolve since having Gemma and Ruby?
Yes I feel more than ever I want to prepare them for a world where they can be or do anything they want, and I want to use my brand platform to be part of the solution, both in combating climate change and promoting female empowerment.
"I want to use my brand platform to be part of the solution, both in combating climate change and promoting female empowerment."
Where is your studio and why did you choose this space?
My design studio is in South Laguna Beach, and I think it’s the perfect location – Open loft architecture, with 70s California soul, and a glass front view onto the Pacific.
Your favorite quote?
“Think globally, act locally.” and “Less is more.”
Favorite way to spend your day?
At the beach with my family - under the shade of palm tree or umbrella, and in the water - always.
What’s in your handbag?
Well I’m traveling right now so: passport, phone, little yellow Celine wallet, organic shea butter lip balm, Barton Perriera sunglasses, bandaids for my kids (you never know), postcards from a tiny island in the South of Norway, and a beautiful lavender jade cocktail ring from my mom, for evenings out.
When did you realize you were passionate about designing swim?
In college. I was modeling swimwear and would get boxes of free suits but none that were quite right. So I decided to make my own, with the perfect fit, smarter fabric and a modern palette of nudes and neutrals.
Favorite piece from your newest collection?
The Naomi Bodysuit. It’s inspired by ‘70s dancers’ bodysuits - super classic and sexy, plus you can wear it day to night.
How did you get into the fashion biz and what do you love about it?
I was an illustrator attending the Art Center College of Design. There was a mag that I wanted to do illustrations for, and when I showed them my portfolio, they decided to do a feature story about me. This led to a job for a surfwear brand, where I learned about apparel design and branding. I then launched my own design + merchandising firm, called Vitamin A. After 7 years of creating design stories for other brands, I was hired by Abercrombie + Fitch to create the concepts and women’s designs for The Hollister Co. Eventually my personal passion for bikinis turned into my own brand, Vitamin A. I love now that the industry has morphed into a social media conversation, where designers tell our stories directly to customers.
How did you come up with the name Vitamin A?
Basically it derived from me staring a milk carton! At first it was vitamin A + D (A for Amahlia and D for Design), and then shortened to Vitamin A. The name felt personal to me, as well as representative of the healthy beach lifestyle I was raised on.
Can you take us through your design process?
My design process happens spontaneously and constantly. I get inspired by moments at the beach, by the colors and textures of my travel adventures, and by new technology, especially concerning sustainability. I basically take all that in, sketch through ideas, then combine shapes and fabrics to tell a story of feminine energy, wanderlust, and sustainability.
Tell us a little about your mentors and
how you have gotten to where you are today?
I’ve had amazing mentors who helped me get to where I am now, like Yvon Chionard at Patagonia. I designed a line for him years ago and learned how he created micro-fleece from fibers of melted down plastic bottles. From that experience, I eventually went on to construct Vitamin A’s signature EcoLux - a superfine swim fabric, from recycled Nylon.