Arrow + Phoenix Makes a Splash with Stylish Sustainable Swimwear
Arrow + Phoenix delivers stylish and sustainable swimwear while using recycled materials and a focus on giving back; a perfect fit for body and mind.
While it’s true that size doesn’t matter in most areas of life, size is arguably one of the top things that matter when it comes to the fit of your clothing, especially swimwear. So, what do you do when you realize that there just aren’t many options for the broad spectrum of sizes out there? Where do you turn when the size you are is not represented in the overpopulated world of fast fashion?
For Kayla Bell, the self-titled Head Babe In Charge and the creator behind Arrow + Phoenix, she went with the ages old adage, ‘if you want something done right, you just have to do it yourself’. Better still, she upped the ante and built her company using a sustainable business model that employs the use of sustainably-sourced textiles. That officially puts her in the business of creating the perfect fit for your body, mind and soul.
Bell was definitely the right young woman to take on this task, priming herself in the world of fashion and design, she sketched her first collection at the age of six. Growing up in New Orleans, her family was artsy and gave her the freedom to create what she wanted. The business side of the industry also clicked with her early on, when she saw the big picture and understood the ins and outs of merchandising and brand development.
At 16, she was wearing a 38DDD, and while she could find bottoms that worked, she could not find a swim top that both worked for her size and was not designed with grandmas in mind. There was nothing out there that was stylish and supportive. Bell realized that if she had that issue, other women surely were dealing with the same. She began altering pieces to make them fit her, and out of this, the idea for her own line of swimwear was born. Everything was put in motion and she knew that she wanted sustainability built into the process from day one.
As a child growing up in New Orleans, Bell experienced Hurricane Katrina, and in the storm’s aftermath, her family found themselves in Florida, receiving the generosity of strangers. The situation taught her to think on the bright side, and to pass the blessings you have onto others.
She elaborates, “I always wanted my brand to have that connectability. To feel that Arrow + Phoenix is bigger than fashion, and that it’s guided by a bigger purpose.”
Initially, Bell wasn’t sure how to use her brand to give back. After deciding to donate a portion of the proceeds to beach cleanup organizations, she stumbled upon fabric that was made from recycled water bottles.
The discovery was amazing. “Not only can I give back monetarily, but I can also give back by using completely reusable, recyclable materials,” she says.
She had reservations. Maybe the fabric wouldn’t feel good. Maybe it wouldn’t hold up well. Then she found a vendor who makes swimwear fabric using thread made from recycled fishing nets. The end result is soft, durable, super sustainable activewear. It was just what she was looking for.
But the road to creating her collections wasn’t going to be free from challenges. Getting a start in her teens, plus being a woman, she found it difficult to be taken seriously.
“I would go into meetings with manufacturers and say, here’s what we need to do. The key factors are that my line needs to be made in the USA, of sustainable fabric, and have a custom size run. I was prepared to do anything except sew. I know my strengths: designing, visual conceptualizing, marketing, PR, and sourcing,” she explains.
But the producers she was meeting with could not meet her requirements. So, again, she took things into her own hands and created her own production team consisting of a seamstress, her chosen fabric vendor, and herself. The small scale allows her to closely manage things, vet the people she works with, and create partnerships with companies that align with her values. If anything slips through the cracks, it can be swiftly corrected.
The name of her company, Arrow + Phoenix, sums up these challenges and embodies the intentions of the brand.
“The more an arrow is pulled backward, the further they are propelled forward. Don’t use challenges as a stop sign. Don’t worry about everywhere else, just go where you’re aiming. And, the Phoenix is never defeated; continuously growing from its own ashes. That’s us!” she elaborates.
By knowing what she wants and going after it with goal-oriented precision, Arrow + Phoenix swimwear is what she envisioned. The collections are constructed using recycled, eco-friendly, chlorine- and sand-resistant sustainable fabric that provides built in UV Ray protection. It is one of the softest fabrics on the market and is designed for shape retention. The fabric is US-made. The swimwear is constructed in LA, so from input to output, the swimwear is all made in the USA. And, the line stylishly accommodates cup sizes from A to H. It’s thoughtful, practical and inclusive.
Everything along Arrow + Phoenix’s path has evolved organically.
Bell hopes the future of Arrow + Phoenix will bring the brand further along the sustainability spectrum; that it can become the poster child of a beneficial business model and it can inspire other brands.
She’s already seeing changes in the industry. In the past 4 years, trade shows now have a strong sustainable component. Things are continuously changing for the better.
She sees stores across the world carrying Arrow + Phoenix, and that people will know the story behind her brand. With every piece she sells, she hopes she’s also selling memories yet to happen. If those who wear her swimwear feel connected to the brand’s mission, she’s reached yet another goal.
She strongly believes, “If you are someone that gets an inkling of something, whatever sparks your happiness, take it and run! You never know where it will lead, and if you continuously follow that, you’ll never go wrong.”
Arrow + Phoenix knows that every little bit counts. When people look at the larger picture and take accountability, we can collectively make big things happen. As an incentive to make sustainable choices, Bell is calling on anyone out there with an old, faded, ill-fitting swimsuit, to send it in to be recycled at Arrow + Phoenix and receive a 15% discount off your favorite piece in their collection. Subscribe to their newsletter to receive discounts on a regular basis, and share pics of your suits in the wild using #ArrowPhoenixSwim.