SKYN: Thank you for taking time to interview with us I have so many questions about Montce and I suppose the first is where did the name come from?
A.G: I used to spend a lot of time in Costa Rica. The name came up in conversation when I was fully focused on coming up with a name for my brand; I was actually planning on designing lingerie at that time. I had never heard of the name before and it sounded super pretty (pronounced mon-say) and I liked the name a lot so it stuck and later became Montce Swim.
SKYN: Oh I see, I figured it had to be a pretty personal reason as it’s not a name one comes across all that often. So what were you doing before Montce or being an entrepreneur ever came to mind let alone fruition Alex?
A.G: I used to always paint and draw, but I really started by selling hand-made jewelry before Montce became a real thing. I had graduated from the lovely Art institute of Fort Lauderdale for fashion design, completed a non-paid sort of dead-end internship in NYC, and was deep in my unplanned, unwanted and lengthy (5 year) bartending career when Montce finally took off. My shifts at work went down from 6 days to 4 to 3 and finally to 1, I even kept that one day a week well into signing the lease on my first shop in Fort Lauderdale.
SKYN: Wow that’s quite a journey, people never see the grinding either they always see the finished result so I’m glad you spoke on that. I’m curious about your style philosophy especially when it comes to Montce?
A.G: I like to focus on sexy and flattering cuts with a comfortable feel. I keep the swim pretty functional and just create what I personally love from a wide range of inspirations.
SKYN: Well I’m curious about what those inspirations are but before we get to that, could you explain to the readers the process of how you make your clothes from having the idea to having the piece in your hand?
A.G: I have an insane on-going collection of sketches, magazine cutouts, and screenshots ...when the time for a new collection rolls around, I add about a million more sketches to that pile. Somehow I usually have serious OCD and organize it all by category, sometimes in binders- when I’m feeling hella organized and then from there, I select my favorite new designs to be tested out and made into samples.
SKYN: I see, with that said I noticed a term that I wasn’t super familiar with as I came across it, why is it so important that your bikini’s don’t ‘cut in’?
A.G: I make tiny bikinis with sexy cuts so I don’t want those sexy cuts to only look good on models alone, I want girls that love to eat to still feel as hot as they possibly can when it comes time to get into one of my bikinis. I want more people to understand how they could feel in a “skimpy” bikini that does not cut in on the hips or the butt and accentuates in the right places. We don’t use harsh elastics and in a nutshell we are anti-muffin top or anything else that could possibly make a woman feel unsexy in her bikini.
SKYN: All of us women size 6 and up really appreciate that you observed that and really try to find a solution to that common problem with Bikini brands. Aside from that, what do you think sets Montce Swim apart from other swimwear brands?
A.G: I think fit for sure and also comfort is a big thing with us, I also like to think that we have a unique taste in print.
SKYN: Oh without a doubt! Some of your styles even with solid prints are great. Since it is a bikini brand, how much do you think the idea of fitness plays into the brands look, feel and philosophy?
A.G: I think being active and fitness is obviously key to feel your best and stay healthy, however I don’t like relating the two in the sense that women should ever have to try so hard to feel sexy. I think a lot of our customers are into fitness but I really don’t focus on that much. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to create active wear but I would like to address the two separately.
SKYN: Making moves, I like it! So given that Montce Swim has been featured in publications such as Vogue UK, Maxim mag, and Ocean drive magazine, what does it feel like to know that your creations are so amazing that it could be showcased in such established platforms?
A.G: It never gets old and it is always super exciting :)
SKYN: Oh super exciting, that’s why I asked *laughs*. Aside from all of those amazing opportunities was there ever a point in your career that made you feel validated in what you do?
A.G: Sometimes it could be a really small thing that puts things into perspective and reminds me of how far I have come, but I would say the biggest tangible thing would have been the second shop that I opened in Hermosa Beach and seeing my bikinis on J.Lo and Kendall Jenner, those definitely stick out most.
SKYN: What, that is wild, that is one hell of a cosign. So Montce is run by you Alexandra and Devin, can you tell us a bit more about how you both decided to venture into the Bikini business and what this partnership has been like for the both of you?
A.G: I started very small in 2009. I made mostly custom bikinis and made to order swimwear out of my apartment. It was getting to the point where my neighbors were a bit confused and things were growing quickly, so I decided to open the first shop. I found some pretty cheap rent and made it as cute as possible. My brother Devin started helping me handle the books while he was in college which was a huge relief because I am by no means a numbers person. By the time he landed his first career at ENST and young Montce was growing at a pace I couldn’t really handle by myself, Devin was not loving corporate America and saw i needed the help so it all just kind of fell into place. We are total opposites but it works out, sometimes he thinks he is a designer but that is another story *laughs*.
SKYN: Ah siblings love *laughs*, that is a story you should definitely share another time. Are you someone that is hard on yourself, especially with so many responsibilities?
A.G: Yes definitely, it’s hard to balance a social life when you are completely obsessed with your business. I’m always working on that *smiles*as hard as I am on myself, I really don’t ever tell myself something can’t be done. I’m super focused, motivated, and stubborn *laughs*, I think that helped to get me this far. I really didn’t focus on what could go wrong. When people would tell me to worry about this or that I kind of just ignored them and focused on what I could do, which was usually a creative alternative to the ‘right way of doing things.’
SKYN: I can certainly relate, once you find something you are passionate about it’s incredibly easy to get lost in the sauce, it's always something that is a work in progress. So you have Montce Swim shops in Fort Lauderdale and Hermosa Beach can you tell us what that continuous experience is like with running stores rather than just being an e-commerce boutique?
A.G: It definitely is an extra layer of work, but it is very important to me to create a vibe for the brand that people can walk into, I like to have the stores so people can actually get in and try on things. I like them to be able to see what styles look best on their body types and have the shop girl’s feedback. I also want my customers to be able to get creative and mix and match with bikinis in hand *smiles*
SKYN: It makes sense, if you want someone to fall in love with your product you need to create an environment and an experience where that can take place in and e-commerce really dilutes the shopping experience. What do you think your favourite quote is?
A.G: I don’t have one memorized, not much of a quote person ...is that bad?
SKYN: Absolutely not, you’re a busy person you have other important things to memorize! If you had the opportunity to pack up and leave Hermosa Beach and move somewhere else, where would that place be and why?
A.G: I would love to live so many places for a little bit, Spain, Italy, France, Hawaii, Australia, or NYC (again). I always loved Costa Rica too :) There are so many places I haven’t been yet, clearly I love to travel.
SKYN: I’m hearing a lot of tropical and Mediterranean locations that you can get a tan so I sense a trend. Could you share with us one personal beauty hack that you use and swear works?
A.G: Spray tans *laughs* or just being tan, that makes everything better for me. As far as products I really love, the Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow products are great.
SKYN: That’s something I’m coming to learn, that the eyebrows frame the face and are in a lot of ways the inception of all kinds of slay, what makes you happy above all things?
A.G: People, music, travel and being in the ocean; boats and surfing even though I still suck at it *smiles* and shopping decorating and designing as well.
SKYN: I don’t even know how to surf so you’re one up on me with that, so what’s your # 1 pet peeve that you cannot stand because let’s be honest, everybody has one.
A.G: People that take themselves too seriously and people that don’t say hi back or smile - it’s not that hard.
SKYN: It’s really not hard at all, I’ve actually never thought about that in the context of a pet peeve but now I’m reflecting on it, it’s super frustrating. Anyway what’s next for Montce swim?
A.G: Maybe a few baby bikinis in the near future. Definitely want to get into a little menswear, women’s active wear, and create more accessories and cover-ups.
SKYN: We are looking forward to that! When next we get to Florida or LA, can we frolic in the sun together?
A.G: Tots *smiles* or in LA!
SKYN: Where can our readers find you on the internet and social media?
A.G: Montce.com @montce_swim @alexandra.grief
@sofxposh | www.sofxposh.com
Montce.com | @montce_swim | @alexandra.grief
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