While working as a photo assistant in her 20s, Danica Salajko was constantly surrounded by creativity, even working with fashion lensman Paul Wright and acclaimed Vanity Fair photog, Annie Leibovitz. But eventually, this hectic, star-studded life took its toll. “I became a stylist for music videos and film but it just wasn’t for me—I hated returning all those clothes,” says Danica.
Leaning back on her swimsuit making skills she learned as a tween, Danica is able to make a living doing what she loves: designing and sewing. “My mom had a custom bathing suit store in the late ‘80s. I remember ladies would come in and try on the suits and my mom would tailor them to use as the samples. She even had her seamstresses make me my own custom suit. But I got tired of waiting for them and asked how to use the machines. It started with making easy tank suits and as I got older, advanced to creating underwire and more complicated patterns. But really, it was all about making scrunchies. I had a million of them—you could have covered me in scrunchies.”
There are times when Danica, designer of Bathing Belle lets her daughter help in the creative process by choosing fabric. “She usually picks the loudest, craziest fabrics like neon or rainbow patterns. They don’t make it into the line but I do sew samples for her.” It’s no surprise however, that when Danica does her year-end sales, they’re the one that the kids want.
Today that passion for making scrunchies has evolved to creating laugh-out-loud swimwear for kids (BTW: she still makes scrunchies if you’re ever in need…) “When I had my daughter in 2011 I started making bathing suits for her. I found the ones at stores were kind of all the same and some, not very age-appropriate. All my suits have a lower leg and a higher cut back for modesty. I also make them a bit looser than the store-bought versions,” she says. “Kids want to be comfortable when putting on a bathing suit—just like adults—but you don’t want them to fall off. I’ve found that happy spot where it’s easy for them to get in-and-out of them by themselves. Plus, everyone wanted to know where I bought her suit. I figured I have these skills and this passion, why not make it a business? It really was a natural transition.”
For Danica, kids suits are more fun and creative to design. “Right now I’m loving the food prints—they’re so quirky. Kids love them too. I tend to design backwards: I pick the fabric first, then envision the styles to match. Up next are chicken and waffles and Rubiks cube prints. I don’t create by seasons but instead I create mini collections inspired by prints and patterns.”
What’s on the rack right now
Bathing Belle’s prints are a standout for boys and girls. From food to furry friends, Danica offers up suits that will lighten up any day at the beach or pool. All girls and boys bathing suits, $50 CAD, rash guards, $60 CAD.
Danica’s Swimsuit Shopping Tips for you
MIX IT UP “Pair a solid top with a printed bottom or mix and match prints to create a totally unique suit. Get creative with what you have. If the bikini bottoms you already own still fit perfectly, but the top has lost its support, you don’t have to splurge on a whole new suit. Look for designers that sell pieces individually and have some fun mixing it up.”
EMBRACE PRINTS “Printed fabrics keep the eye moving on the body and distract from bumps or ripples on our post-baby shapes. There are some amazing graphic prints that when a pattern is positioned the right way, it can create an illusion of a more hour glass silhouette.”
SHOP YOUR SHAPE “Ask yourself: What styles top/bra look good on me? Halter, underwire, bandeau, one piece or 2 piece? Once you identify the style, you’ll have a good sense of what silhouette will work best for you.”
DON’T FORCE A TREND
“If you don’t feel comfortable in a new swimwear silhouette, don’t force it! My suggestion is choose a colour or print that’s hot that season and the style that suits your body type and makes you feel great! When you feel good, you exude confidence.”
FYI: Bathing Belle offers custom services. For example, one family requested a tiger print for their family of four. And recently, moms are bringing their daughters to get their own personalized suit. They love it that they get to pick out their own pattern and style.