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Jan 25, 2016 3:11 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Montauk Native's Bikini Business Reaches Both Coasts

Ariana Jasuta modeling the 2016 Kaileigh Swimwear Collection. GRANT MONAHAN
Jan 26, 2016 10:02 AM

While most East End residents had their warmest coats, hats and gloves on for this weekend’s paralyzing blizzard, one Montauk native surrounded herself with much lighter garments—namely, bikinis.Twenty-five-year-old designer Ariana Jasuta is in the midst of preparing her new line of two-piece bathing suits for the 2016 Kaileigh Swimwear collection. Her brand, which debuted last summer, features East End-inspired bikinis in a range of on-trend looks, including nautical patterns, bandeau tops and cheeky bottoms named after hamlets like Sag Harbor and Amagansett.

For Ms. Jasuta, her fashion brainchild began on a whim. While taking a trip to New York City’s Garment District in 2013, she decided to pick up fabrics and other materials to design and make her own swimsuit.

Although she studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Ms. Jasuta said she majored in advertising and hadn’t planned on pursuing design. Currently she works at a media agency in Manhattan.

“It kind of just happened,” she mused. “When I made my first bathing suit, it was not my intention to do anything more.”

Her experience in the fashion world actually began when she started working at Ralph Lauren in East Hampton at the age of 15. Surrounded by the luxurious designer items on a daily basis, Ms. Jasuta said she often took to her sketchbook to document her own ideas and even tried to make a few dresses by herself. It wasn’t until she experimented with swimwear that she found her niche in the industry.

In debuting her 2015 collection, Ms. Jasuta sought out local shops and summer pop-ups to stock her bikinis including Whalebone and Poolside Collective in Montauk and Flying Point Surf and Skate and Girltauk in Southampton. She also participated in various trunk shows over the summer at the Montauk Beach House, the Montauk Brewing Company and other venues.

The young entrepreneur said she expects the business to grow exponentially this year, with a variety of online retailers, like BikiniSlayer.com, set to carry her new collection. Ms. Jasuta said retailers in Florida and California have also decided to pick up the line, spreading a little bit of Montauk coast to coast.

“My inspiration really comes from Montauk and the beach culture we have out there,” she said.

Ms. Jasuta said her memories of spending the summers of her childhood with family friends at Ditch Plains, surrounded by bonfires, lounge chairs and the ocean, are a major part of the brand and what it means to her.

“There aren’t that many brands from the East Coast, so I’m trying to make a brand to represent Montauk and ‘The Hamptons,’” she said.

Like her business model, her bathing suit designs also are evolving. “It just started out as what I wanted to personally wear,” said Ms. Jasuta. “But as I kept designing it became about variety. With this coming line [I] created a much fuller bottom. Not everyone wants a super cheeky bottom … everyone is built differently.”

The bikini tops and bottoms are sold separately, ranging from $84 to $96 apiece. Ms. Jasuta said they are reversible, often with patterns on one side and a solid color on the other.

Ms. Jasuta can be seen modeling the entire new collection in the online “look book” at kaileighswimwear.com. Because she was on a budget, she said it was easier to have her photographer and Montauk friend Grant Monahan take photos of her rather than hire another model, which ultimately gave her more control of the image.

“I think it helps knowing how to set up a photograph and what kind of poses look good,” said Ms. Jasuta, who spent a few years modeling in Los Angeles.

Looking ahead, Ms. Jasuta said her goal is to turn her bikini business into a successful wholesale ecommerce operation.

“Down the line it would be fun to have a little storefront,” she said. But for now, her focus is on continuing to build a foundation, she said.

“I love doing it … this could be my full-time job in the near future,” she said.

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This beats the article about the snow storm
By 27dan (2771), Shinnecock Hills on Jan 25, 16 5:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Mr. Z (11551), North Sea on Jan 25, 16 6:02 PM
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