Arrow + Phoenix is an inclusive American swimwear brand founded in 2010 by Kayla Bell. Join us as Kayla takes us behind the scenes of her brand, discussing challenges, milestones, and hopes for the future.
Let’s dive in.
Hello! Can you tell us about yourself and your brand?
Hi there! My name is Kayla and I run Arrow + Phoenix, a sustainable lifestyle brand with an emphasis on swimwear, skincare, and activewear.
Why did you start Arrow and Phoenix? What inspired you?
I started A+P because I didn’t feel there was a size inclusive, US based sustainable swimwear brand that offered options both stylish and comfortable.
I was petite with a 38DDD bra cup size and it was nearly impossible to find anything I liked style wise but also was comfortable. From there, I decided to make my own.
Where sustainability is concerned, I’ve always been an advocate for the earth and the people of it. What good is a bikini if we have no beach to wear it to due to global warming? Fashion can be cool and conscious.
What were the main challenges and learnings you had? How do things compare today to when you first started?
I started A+P at a pretty young age so most manufacturers didn’t take me seriously which was frustrating but I persevered nevertheless. Today, almost twelve years later, there are so many inclusive swimwear brands and there’s far more swimwear brands that have a sustainable component, which is great!
What were the drivers behind choosing the materials you use?
I look for sustainability first and comfort second. I test the fit of each piece on my own body first long before I put it on any of the models, the site, or anything.
Practicality and sustainability are also at the forefront when sourcing packaging materials as well.
In your eyes, what’s the biggest achievement or milestone so far?
There have been so many and I’m immensely thankful for each and every one.
Being featured in Sports Illustrated repeatedly is always a big one but this year, partnering with the Virgin Hotel in New Orleans for our brand’s 504 day campaign meant so much to me. To celebrate women from my hometown in the name of swim was incredible and I cannot wait to do it again next year.
What elements of your brand are important to you which illustrate your brand values and culture?
Sustainability is at the heart of our brand ethics but we’re also very proud to be a brand that has everything made here in the US. We also want it to be clear that there’s no such thing as a “bikini body” because every body is a bikini body. We celebrate all shapes, sizes, and creeds at A+P.
How do you ensure Arrow and Phoenix is as inclusive as possible?
We offer a wide variety of sizes and use real women as models. All of the models you see on our website are everyday women, not agency models.
We have our photoshoots in real settings, we don’t edit out stretch marks or body folds and rolls, and we don’t use a typical fit model at a size range of 0-4 to base our sizing off of.
How do you ensure your company stays true to your mission as you grow?
Thus far, I feel that we’ve grown at a pace we can handle and that’s been a beautiful thing. We will always be transparent and keep our core values at the center of everything we do.
Have you tried a product from another brand that you love?
In the spirit of keeping things beach based, two of my favorite sustainable brands are Coola and Conscious Coconut.
What does the future hold for your brand?
We’ll be available in stores pretty soon and that is what I’m most excited about. Bringing A+P offline and directly to customers in a way that allows them to try pieces on, feel the texture and stretch in person, and see how vibrant the colors are.
I’m really thrilled that we’ll soon be sold in stores worldwide. In addition to that, our 2023 collections and community initiatives are also near to my heart so I’m excited to launch those as well.