Today’s Wednesdays With is brought to you just in time for Memorial Day weekend, which, if you didn’t know, is unofficially the official start of summer. While we’ve been tiptoeing around summer topics for a while now here at TTS – giving you the occasional outdoor eating rec or tempting you with warm weather wardrobe finds – after meeting the gorgeous Megan Balch (leather jacket) and Jaime Barker (gray, Flagpole Swim sweater dress) last week, we’re officially ready for summer.
Megan and Jaime go way…way back. They’re old friends who took their loves of fashion, design, and the beach and turned them into a career with the launch of their swimwear line, Flagpole Swim, and we can’t even tell you how excited we are to get our hands on their goods. Their designs are everything you could want in a swimwear line – elegant yet bold and made for both the sunbather and the surfer chick – and Megan and Jaime are equally fierce. So if you’re in the market for some not-so-basic swimwear this season, they’re about to be your new best friends.
We stopped by their DUMBO studio this week to shoot these ladies in some of their favorite Flagpole Swim designs and to dish some dirt on how they got to where they are now. Here’s what went down…
Where are you from?
M: West Palm Beach, FL
J: West Palm Beach, FL
Weekday breakfast routine:
M: Too much coffee and a banana.
J: Grab and go – never met a carb I didn’t like.
Go-to summer cocktail:
M: Anything with watermelon and/or gin
J: Lychee martini
Currently craving ______:
M: Now, watermelon and gin
Beauty item always in your purse:
M: Fresh chapstick
J: SPF chapstick
Dream Vacation Destination:
Current fashion trend you can’t stand:
M: Flared jeans
J: Black lipstick, cut offs that are too cut off, flared sleeves .
Current fashion trend you’re totally obsessed with:
M: Sneakers with everything and denim on denim
J: Back drop earrings
Best thing you’ve eaten in NYC in 2015
M: Duck from Decoy in the West Village
J: Steak and eggs from Galli
Let’s start at the beginning. You’ve known each other for a long time, so how did you go from childhood friends to business partners?
M: I would say that the transition was fairly seamless. We have talked about working together since we were kids because we have very complementary aesthetics and work ethics, and I think going from partners in crime to partners in swimwear was very natural.
Tell me what it’s like working with your best friend. Does everything become strictly business when you walk into the office or does it always feel like you’re just hangin with a friend?
J: I think it’s a combination. Professionally we both really respect each other’s opinions which is vital in a successful business partnership. The biggest change for us has been taking on the roles of managers to other people. We try to keep it professional but also remember that this is swimwear not war, and to not take things too seriously.
Where did you interest in fashion and design start from?
M: I would actually give Jaime a lot of the credit for sparking my interest in fashion. I remember looking over at her sketching fashion illustrations during English class and encouraging me to take my first figure drawing class in high school.
J: My grandmother was extremely fashionable. She had rooms in her house converted to closets and would change her clothes multiple times a day. She has served as a huge inspiration to me. One of our most recognizable styles, the Joellen, is named after her.
So why swimwear? What excites you about designing swimwear in particular?
J: We both grew up dancing and were very active beach goers. We had cute bathing suits for laying out and less cute suits for surfing, skim boarding and swimming. We wanted to make sophisticated suits that could do both. A lot of our construction inspiration has been drawn from the support of leotards.
How would you describe the Flagpole Swim style and brand? Does it reflect your personal style at all?
M: We would describe Flagpole Swim style as classic, modern, sophisticated and architectural. I definitely see a lot of our personal style reflected in Flagpole Swim, but we also say often that we are designing for the women we hope to be one day.
Who are some of the designers that have inspired you the most?
J: Sonja Rykiel, Narciso Rodriguez and Céline.
What’s been the biggest challenge in getting to where you are now?
M: I think it has been all the hats that small business owners have to wear. The learning curve is steep and a lot of it is on the go. I also think that Murphy must have been working in production when he said , “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”
And what’s given you the strength to keep going?
J: It’s cheesy to say but I think we get most of our strength from each other. We are definitely our biggest critics but also each others biggest fans. And every once in a while a customer will take a minute to send us a note telling us how much they have enjoyed our product and those are unbelievably uplifting – we always print them out for our inspiration wall.
Tell me something about the other that most people don’t know.
M: You probably wouldn’t expect that cute little, blonde Jaime is an incredible hip hop dancer, but she is excellent. Her dream is to perform on strange as a back up dancer for Justin Timberlake.
J: You wouldn’t expect this as a co-owner of a swimwear company, but Megan’s ultimate fear is swimming in open water. She can’t get in the water unless someone else is going in with her.
What can we expect from upcoming Flagpole Swim collections?
M: Lots more wonderful color palettes and one of a kind prints designed by our friend and artist, Lilian Farag. We don’t have a launch date yet, but we have been working on our most requested product, a men’s swim trunk.
Dinner with anyone dead or alive. Who would it be and where would you go?
M: My grandpa who I never got to meet. He spoke French so I would take him to a French restaurant and let him order.
J: I would love to eat sushi with Cee Lo Green.
What are you most looking forward to doing this summer?
M: Wearing swimming suits!
J: Dancing outside!
Photography by Vanessa Granda