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My Story

Designer Bio

Swoon Swimwear is Ethically Made in the USA


Kristy Kleist - Designer of Swoon Swimwear

I was around 8 years old, my mom had set me up at the kitchen table with some paper and a few pencils to occupy me while she was doing the dishes. Light from the window in front of her filled the room. I remember sitting there contently working on fashion sketches. It was the 80’s so there was always an off the shoulder look represented in each of my collections.

Fast forwarding to young adult hood, it was a typical Tuesday night and my best friend and I decided it was time to bring some of our fashion visions to life. We laid down on some fabric, traced around our bodies, and like magic we thought we were dress designers. Not so fast, unaware of seam allowances and the dimensions of our bodies, the results of our experiment yielded two very skin tight dresses. However, we proudly wore them anyway.

After the skin tight dress debacle, I decided to take sewing classes with a local Milwaukee fashion designer, Erika Ikeler. (Erika is now the owner of 8-limbs.com Sewing School located in Los Angeles, California). I anxiously took all of her classes and she let me sell some of my designs in her boutique. Lela, another boutique who’s owners play a fundamental role in supporting local independent designers, also started selling my designs.

It was and is still so impressive getting to know the hardworking, talented, and ambitious community of Milwaukee makers. Back then, I remember each designer pridefully stamping Made in Milwaukee on their hang tags. This Milwaukee pride paved the way for me to keep my swimwear line American made. In fact, some of my swimwear products are made right here in the heartland. Currently, I am working on a reversible bikini design, which is being manufactured at the MKE Fashion Incubator, located in downtown Milwaukee.

In class at Parsons in 2009.
In class at Parsons in 2009.
Click here for a glimpse of life at Parsons.

In 2009 I further developed my fashion design pursuits and moved to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design. I worked harder then I have ever worked in my life at Parsons, interning for DKNY, showcasing my work in Parson’s Line Debut and graduating on the Dean List. While studying in New York the collapse of the garment district due to overseas manufacturing was painfully apparent. This paired with that great Made in Milwaukee mentality inspired me to make it my goal to support America’s economy, Milwaukee’s local economy, and ambitiously manufacturer my own swimwear line, Swoon, 100% state side.

Learn more about the Importance of Making and Buying Products Made in the USA