I love to swim. So when I moved from New York City to St.Thomas in the US Virgin Islands in 2006, I was overjoyed to say good bye to overcrowded lap lanes and hello to the great turquoise expanse in which I could swim for miles along uncontaminated stretches of coast, gazing at the technicolored fish and spotted eagle rays, the sea turtles and underwater vegetation.
There was only one problem: I couldn't find a swimsuit that I could stand to wear for these aquatic adventures. My old one-piece Speedo seemed too utilitarian for the flamboyant tropics, and the various bikinis I tried were disasterously uncomfortable with knots at the base of my neck, wires poking into my ribs and bottoms that were forever refusing to get out of the water when I did. I tried a sports bra with shorts, but that was even less attractive than the Speedo, and on top of that the heavy cotton fabric refused to dry.
I searched online for a garment that combined the mobility, comfort and support of a sports bra with the style and quick-drying spandex of a swim suit, and came up empty handed. At which point it occurred to me: I'm going to have to design the damn thing myself.
I am not a designer. I am not a seamstress. I have never had the slightest interest in fashion. Still, I managed to scratch out a rough drawing of my fantasy swim suit (which I quickly realized could also function as an excellent gym suit) on a piece of printer paper and set out to find a seamstres.
Two seamstresses and about 18 months later, I had a line of transitional, amphibious activewear that was market-ready, only to discover that commercial manufacturing wasn't within the realm of possibility. What shoestring start-up can absorb the cost of 300/piece production minimums? The time had come for me to learn how to thread a sewing machine.
Turns out, sewing isn't as scary as I had imagined it would be, and I enjoy working with my hands. So I opened for business. Welcome to Nayad.
Jennie Green -
To my good fortune, one of the morning SUP'ers happened to be Jennie Green, a home grown New Yorker (if you were wondering if they really exist, they do...apparently, they all head to the islands after the non-New Yorkers invade their city..guilty). Jennie, who no question is the US Virgin Islands Queen of SUP, must have been highly amused by my "only good for sun bathing" bikini look as she was decked in what I later came to find out was a first generation NAYAD suit.
On that morning paddle, I came to know a bit about Jennie and was instantly drawn to her. After a morning SUP outing, a few email exchanges and hours on the phone, a partnership had blossomed! But why NAYAD, why aqua sportswear, when I come from the film world? The truth is, I love to work out. Or perhaps more accurately, I need to work out. Not to squeeze into those size 2 skinny jeans (as a 2 I am not) but rather for my own mental grounding. Exercise gives me time to be with myself, to flush out all the frustrations and to recenter, to give myself focus, dedication, balance and a more grateful and positive outlook on life. Whether it's running, swimming, cycling, mountain biking, yoga or pilates, exercise fuels my healthy and satisfying lifestyle.
On January 1, 2012, my husband and I left the big city lights of Manhattan for the great Canadian tundra (and by tundra, I'm actually referring to Toronto so pardon my exaggeration). We packed our New York apartment, I quit my corporate job at a major movie studio and we crossed our fingers. About 3 months into our move, I was still pounding the pavement in search of a corporate job that in some way was the Canadian version of my film career in Manhattan.
In an attempt to recharge my job search , I took a vacation with my mother to the US Virgin Islands to visit with family. Clearly a Caribbean vacay was the proper prescription. Upon arrival I encouraged my cousin to organize a standup paddle board outing with myself and a couple of her friends from the island.
Kate Fox -