Meet Nicole Sainz, the woman behind Nicolita Caliente Handbags and Bikinis. Her suits are fun, flirty and have just a touch of Cuban heat. We guarantee once you peruse her catalog, you'll never forget it,
Nicole, please tell us a little about yourself and how you built Nicolita Caliente Handbags and Bikinis.
I started Nicolita in March 2002, during my senior year at USC. Before I officially started the company, I loved to sew anything from my dorm room curtains and bedding to theme party outfits for my sorority events. I used to walk around downtown LA's fabric district for hours and get inspired.
In October 2001, I found a Hawaiian girl print fabric that I made a simple little handbag with and added some rhinestones. Girls in my sorority loved it and pleaded with me to make more. After I realized the demand for my bags, I decided during December I would let my sorority sisters design their own bag for Christmas gifts. The girls got to choose fabrics, bag shapes, and handle options and I would manufacture and delivery them before Christmas.
I couldn't believe it, I sold 50 bags in less than an hour! That next year I sold over 2000 bags out of my dorm room. Once I graduated in December 2002, I bought a new cover stitch sewing machine. I wanted to expand my products and introduce custom swimwear to the sorority girls. Later that year I developed a collection and sold it to Nordstrom West coast.
Do you actually design the swimsuits yourself?
Yes, I design the collection each season. I spend about three months preparing color stories, trends, concepts, etc., before I start making samples for the photo shoot and trade shows.
However, besides color stories and trends, my greatest source of inspiration for designing the collection is Nicolita, the character. She is "Jet setting around the world and falling in love along the way." Determining where she travels each season helps me create styles, themes and prints for the samples. For example, om the 2007 collection, Nicolita belly danced in our Jewel of the Night bikini in Morocco and played her castanets in our Flirty Flamenco bikini in Spain.
Her story and the image of the brand is what makes Nicolita Caliente Handbags and Bikinis stand out from the rest in the swimwear industry. Every element of the designing process and images goes hand in hand to execute a cohesive marketing strategy.
Which do you think is more important to successfully pull off wearing a sexy bikini- a great shape, or a great attitude?
A little bit of both. However, attitude and confidence go a long way. The reality is that not all women have a slender "runway bikini model" figure. Buying swimwear can be very frustrating if you do not know your body shape and what complements your assets. Women need to know before entering the bikini store if they have an hourglass, pear, apple, round or ruler body shape. Once you determine this, you'll find swimwear that makes you look your best and you'll exude confidence poolside.
- Hourglass: This is considered to be the perfect body shape, with a well-defined bust, waist and hips. Don't be shy; you can wear any style of swimsuit. Try something that will show off your feminine curves. Nicolita recommends her Ole! tube top and spaghetti ruffled bottoms or sexy Desert Dreams halter with shear hipster bottoms. Muy Caliente!
- Pear: Pear-shaped women tend to have larger lower bodies and smaller upper bodies. If you are a pear, you'll find that your hips are slightly wider than your shoulders and that you tend to gain weight below your waist. Pears usually have small chests and flat stomachs. If you have a wider waist than shoulders, Nicolita recommends her dark brown Desert Dreams one piece bikini backside-style or the Knotty Nicolita two piece for the perfect heart-shaped backside.
- Apple: Apple-shaped bodies have an inverted triangle shape - meaning they have broad shoulders. If this describes your body shape, you'll want to choose a swimsuit with a high-cut neckline. This will minimize the top, and emphasize the bottom. A solid top with printed bottoms is your best bet for a two piece suit. Nicolita recommends her Flirty Flamenco embroidered halter with scrunch bum bottoms because the polka dot print will emphasize your lower body and add balance to your figure.
- Ruler: The slender body is long and lean with the same width at the shoulders, waist and hips. The main goal with this body type is to produce curves. You'll want a swimsuit that creates the look of a defined waistline. Nicolita recommends her Sexy Senorita off the shoulder top and pig-tail bottoms because the top will accentuate the neckline and bottoms will widen the hips with the tie sides.
- Round: This body shape usually has a fuller bust and a less-defined waist with more narrow shoulders and thighs. Choose a swimsuit that draws attention away from the midriff and tummy area. Dark solids work wonders. Nicolita recommends her Havana Honey Tankini and bottoms in black because it draws attention away from the midriff, and the adjustable band reduces back pinching.
We love the catalog. It's so playful and it really stands out from the rest of the pack. Tell us about the Nicolita character and what inspired you to create her.
The name of the company "Nicolita" (little Nicole in Spanish) is my nickname that my parents have called me since I was the youngest child. I decided to name the company Nicolita since it was unique and I wanted to bring some of my Cuban culture to the brand.
As the company began to grow, so did the marketing and the creation of Nicolita, the character. I noticed that my designs were strongly influenced by my Cuban culture, love for travel, and 1940's vintage glamour. Thus my muse, Nicolita was born. I was able to create a romanticized life that women have read about in their romance novels and translate it into a life style apparel brand. I want women to think of Nicolita's journey and feel sexy and adventurous when they wear our product.
The Nicolita catalog is interspersed with sassy little verses about Nicolita. Do you write those yourself too?
My sister, Michelle Sainz, is the graphic designer. She and I write the verses together while putting the catalog together each season. As I mentioned before, determining where Nicolita travels to each season is important in writing her story as well. The verses have to make sense and flow together from each collection to the next. It's a lot of fun and a lot of tongue-tied rhymes!
Where can we purchase Nicolita Caliente Handbags and Bikinis? Is your line carried at any retail outlets, or strictly by catalog?
Nicolita is sold at Nordstrom, Dillard's, select boutiques and online. Visit MyNicolita.com and click our store locator to find the nearest Nicolita retailer.
Thanks for chatting with us Nicole. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I truly appreciate the opportunity to talk to LoveToKnow Swimsuits about Nicolita Caliente Handbags and Bikinis. Starting Nicolita has been one of the most satisfying and life-changing experiences I have ever had. I turned a love for sewing into a career that has connected me with thousands of people around the world. If anyone has a dream that they want to turn into reality, I say GO FOR IT and see where your journey takes you!