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Conversations with Ana Mero

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ana Mero.

Hi Ana, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I always knew I wanted to be in the Fashion Industry from an early age, but when the time came to “get serious” after graduating high school, I pushed aside my dreams in an attempt to earn a “respectable career.” I didn’t feel supported in following my dreams of becoming a designer, in fact someone very close to me said, “I don’t think you have that ‘special’ something,” and the worst part is, I believed them. So I began my journey in college studying Political Science and don’t get me wrong, I liked being a Latina in politics because I felt I could help people, but I didn’t feel complete. I felt like I was just pursuing someone else’s dream for me. After my first semester, I was already exceeding in my academic goals and was even accepted to transfer to UCLA to continue my education. That same semester I found out I was pregnant with my son. I felt like I disappointed everyone around me for becoming a young mom and felt I had to strive even harder to be a “respectable woman” (because unfortunately being a young mom comes with labels and stereotypes). After my gap year, I jumped straight back to college, more focused than ever to earn myself a title, a place in this world so that no one would judge me or my son.

I started to read these books to my son about finding who you are, being anything you want to be, and more uplifting stories that eventually got me thinking. It is so interesting how we read these stories to our kids to make them feel empowered in who they choose to be to later on feed them our society’s version of success. We crush dreams because we want them to “successful” but at what cost? It hit me then that I was preaching to my son about being who he is when I had completely forgotten about myself. Cheesy right? But that was when I realized that I had to go after my own dreams. It was not easy, and it’s still not easy. I get a lot of doubt and backlash from people who don’t believe in my vision. But I went for it anyway.

Ana Mero Swim is everything I wanted to be. I always say “I design for the authentic” which really is just me hoping to inspire everyone to live as their authentic best self. I am on a mission to create an inclusive brand that truly identifies itself as a disruptor. There is a lot we need to change in the fashion industry, I want to make sure I do it right.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Where do I begin lol. Let’s start with marketing. My main value/mission for Ana Mero Swim is to separate the integration of social beauty standards in capitalism. Let me elaborate, not to name names but many brands use the “it girl” factor. Have you ever looked at models at your favorite brand and thought, I want to look like that? No disrespect to the models because they are absolutely stunning but there are SO MANY beautiful underrepresented bodies that deserve to be represented. Brands use this It Girl tactic to profit off our insecurities instead of uplift us. The thing is, luxury is tied to a certain look. If I want to sell luxe swim, my brand image needs to look a specific way especially down to the models I use. I don’t hire ‘luxury models” I use “as are models” (and I am grateful for everyone who has stepped in to help me with my photoshoots) but in return, my brand is not considered high-end. My swimwear is luxe, made with a fabric I developed for over a year, but because it’s not a specific body type, my brand is viewed as too expensive “for something that looks cheap,” real quote by the way. If you have time, test this. Look up “luxury swimwear” and look through the photos, then look up “affordable swimwear” and compare the two. Spot the difference? This has really impacted my marketing because society says “luxury and inclusivity don’t mix.”

My new collections have had MAJOR setbacks. My original manufacturer increased the MOQ that translated into a $9000 investment, something I couldn’t do while barely building my brand name. After research, I settled with a new manufacturer and everything seemed to be going well. We made samples together but when I received them, I noticed they looked nothing like the ones I saw during conference calls. They were trying to up-charge me the better samples I spent weeks directing them towards. I am now switching directions and working one on one with a seamstress/ garment constructor. I’m very excited to create and design new quality-controlled collections!

Lastly, I feel like I can be my own biggest obstacle. I always feel some self-doubt and can get really insecure about my journey and where I’m going. I let people’s opinions about me and my goals cloud my focus for Ana Mero Swim. It is really easy to believe what other people say about you, but I have been learning to just push through. I don’t want to let the fear of failing block me from my potential, I know what AMS is capable of, it’s a dream worth striving for. And if you are reading this, I want you to know that you are worthy of all your aspirations. Do what makes you happy, people will always judge no matter what so you might as well be you!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I bet a lot of people think I’m vanilla lol In school, I was never the popular girl or the pretty girl with all the nice clothes. To be honest, I don’t think a lot of people even know the authentic Ana that I really am. And that’s okay! I have so much to show.

I mainly design swimwear, specifically because I wanted to be in an industry that could truly benefit from inclusivity and diversity. There’s so much negative connotation surrounded around “beach bodies” and I really want to challenge it. I love to sketch on paper, I know digital art is easier and more prominent in the fashion community, but there is just something so satisfying to me about seeing my designs sketched with pencil and pen (I feel like I am more involved and focused when doing so!) I am also designing resort wear, something I want AMS to grow into, I want the idea of luxury to be accessible to all body types without sacrifice of style, sustainability, and quality.

I think what sets me apart from others is my community. The iAMSbabes (the AMS Family) truly understand where I come from and see the vision. They support me in ways that I didn’t even support myself. We are a community of activists who want to see the separation of toxic standards and capitalism. Everyone deserves to feel represented and as well grow I really want to showcase them. All my designs are a mix of functional and runway featured with a branded story and unique conceptual marketing. I don’t want other people to look at Ana Mero Swim as another swimwear business, it is a brand, an identity that everyone can be a part of.

My proudest moment is launching Ana Mero Swim. I don’t think a lot of people know this, but I spent a year and half going back and forth on fabric development and classic designs. To many, my Classics Capsule Collection may look like basic swim pieces, but what you are really getting is quality, ethical pieces that stand the test of time. These pieces never go out of trend and will last throughout all your vacations and adventures. Made from recycled nylon and spandex, we have spun a fabric that hugs every curve comfortably! I am proud that we are moving forward with branding, we are in the legal process of trademarking iAMSbabe and creating our next collection, “Reverse Ana Mero.” There is no timeline for success, I am happy to accept the setbacks and continue growing at my own pace. More to be proud of, we are partnered with ROLE Foundation to educate and uplift women in the workplace all while keeping our oceans clean and providing education about sustainability to all lifestyles. Continuing with sustainable practices, we have been able to create a recycling program for AMS where you can 1) send your swim for repairs 2) donate your swimwear to breast cancer survivors and/or 3) donate your swimwear to be repurposed as fabric or other products like yoga mats! We cannot wait to launch our recycling program “iAMSresponsible” very soon! I have also had the privilege to meet and work with amazing entrepreneurs who constantly inspire me, it is an exceptional feeling to be surrounded by hungry individuals who support you too.

What was your favorite childhood memory?
Learning how to sew with a 99cents store sewing kit.

My cousin and I LOVED playing with our barbie dolls, we especially loved to dress them up. We couldn’t afford to get new clothes and accessories all the time for our barbies so my mom taught us basic sewing skills with a tiny little sewing kit that included five thread colors, three needles, and a thimble. After a 30 minute lesson, we created our first tube dress made from a ripped, white rag. After that, I remember going to thrift stores with my mom and buying $3 curtains, blankets, and clothes that I could turn into basic clothing. I even remember using old broken jewelry to accessorize my barbie! I fell in love with creating. Except now I design for my iAMSbabes instead! Who knows, maybe I will create an elevated white tube dress that pays homage to the spark of my designing dream.

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All taken by Ana Mero Swim

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