Thoughts of spring break or summer fun can be warming but also chilling when thoughts of pulling on a swimsuit come to mind.
Fine artist and sculpture Mary Gillis set out to take the edge off that shared anxiety by creating a swimsuit she felt comfortable wearing. Her design ended up being much more than a swimsuit, and became the platform for Swim Lively
—her new Lansing-based business located in The Runway
in downtown Lansing.
"I frequently travel and loved everything about it except putting on a swimsuit," says Gillis of her sojourns to sunny climes. "It seemed logical that a lot of women wouldn't want to wear a bikini or a typical swimsuit. I thought someone would design a comfortable suit, but no one did."
Gillis went to the drawing board combined elements of athletic and leisure wears and created a suit that can be worn for swim, yoga, sports, recreation or leisure. Made from high-tech fabric, the retro-styling provides more coverage in the hips and thighs with a chic, slimming silhouette. Side-zippered legs open to hips for lounging by the pool or beach, while options for bodice and back styles add to the figure flattering fits.
"I wanted to create something that was both athletic and chic," says Gillis. "I also wanted the structure of the suit to accommodate different body types by offering what I call the perfect fit equation."
Gillis made her first prototype suit in January 2014 and took it on a test run to Cabo. She said that so many women asked about her suit and where they could get one that she decided to take the plunge and launch the brand.
Gillis was among the inaugural members of The Runway in the renovated Knapp's Centre. She makes her own digitized patterns, sources materials, and works with a Michigan manufacturer who cuts and sews the suits. Swim Lively maintains a small inventory of suits in simple sizing from S, M, L and XL at the Runway store, with most sales directed online.
"Swim Lively is a sculptural art form I didn't anticipate getting into," says Gillis, whose work has been exhibited internationally through public, private and corporate collections, including Lansing's Accident Fund and the Board of Water and Light. "But I'm a visual problem solver. It goes with my DNA."
Source: Mary Gillis, Owner, Swim Lively
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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