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Fun, girly and made in Hawai‘i

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Between busy class schedules and part time jobs, college students have little time to pursue their hobbies. However, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa student Taylor Mendiola manages to carry her academic workload while also designing her own bikini line.  

When Mendiola is not at school or at her part-time job, the fashion design and merchandising student manages her own line of handmade swimwear, T. Rose Swim. 

Featuring bright colors and floral prints, Mendiola describes her brand as fun and girly. Each piece is custom-made to fit and is meant to capture both femininity and functionality, while accommodating all types of women. 

Mendiola started designing bikinis in high school. She said, in the beginning, it was just something she did for fun and she would sell to friends. Word spread and more and more people began placing orders for her bikinis. Now she has her own website and her bikinis have even been featured on swimwear boutique Bikini Bird’s online store.

All of the bikinis are hand-made by Mendiola. She draws the prints, designs the style of bikini, then sews the pieces herself. She also manages the website and social media accounts. 

“I’ll draw a lot then go home and do a trial,” Mendiola said. “I’ll play around and cut out the fabrics then put it together and see what works and what doesn’t. For the prints it’s the same thing, I’ll doodle and then upload it to my computer and change around the colors till I get it how I want it.”

She said that it takes roughly two hours to complete a pair. 

At the moment, T. Rose Swim is only available for purchase online, but Mendiola has plans to expand after she graduates in May 2017. 

“I want it to get bigger,” Mendiola said. “I want to start mass producing and actually sell into other stores. I might look for a manufacturer but I’m not sure yet.”