Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Twenty Questions with Pinky of Verao!

Today I'm chatting with Pinky of Verao. I've been crushing on her adorable crocheted bikinis for ages, and with summer vacation just around the corner I figured you all might be in the market too! She tells us about traveling the world with her seven sisters, why she's crazy about summer and why crochet is a good break from the world of pixels she lives in as a digital effects editor. Enjoy!

Miss B: First off, tell us a little about you! It sounds like you’ve traveled all over the world! What is the best thing about life in Singapore?

Pinky: I’m the 6th of 7 girls! And since my parents had a travel agency, all of us got to travel during summer and Christmas vacations. Sometimes, right smack in the middle of the academic year, they’d pull my sisters and I out of school so we could accompany them to Tokyo. They believed that education was beyond the 4 walls of the classroom. My parents were strict when it came to going out at night, but they were very liberal with our traveling! Because of that I got to study and live in Los Angeles for a few months in the 90s, so moving to Singapore where I got a job as a digital effects editor by 2001 wasn’t too scary for me.

I like Singapore because of the cultural diversity and the of course, convenience. It’s a relatively safe place to be. And it’s so near the Philippines so I can easily visit family when I want. I don’t own a car and love the public transport, especially the trains. Imagine having Chinatown and Little India on the same train line a few stops away from each other!

Miss B:What inspired you to begin Verao (and what does that lovely name mean)?

Pinky: Oh where do I begin! I’ve always loved beaches and anything that had to do with summer. Summer meant no classes, family vacations and trips to the beach! I loved summer so much, I even ended up with someone from Hawaii, where summer never ends! And with summer, what else comes with it? Bikinis!

No fail, almost every summer since my late teens, I’d have bikinis custom made. Then a little over 4 years ago, when I was already here in Singapore, my Mom gifted me with a crochet bikini.

I loved the color so much, but something about the style wasn’t quite there, and it didn’t fit too well. That started my journey on making the crochet bikini that fit well. My unofficial slogan for my bikini was “sexy but not slutty.” After a couple years of trial and error, I was finally pleased with a design. It took me a while because I did not want my crochet bikinis to be like other crochet bikinis. Meaning, I designed it as a bikini first…because that’s what it is.

After I was satisfied with the fit, I turned my attention to the overall look of the bikini. The design, style, colors, and more importantly, taking into account that we are women with different body types and fashion sense, were all considered on an individual level until they finally meshed into what I consider the perfect product. In my point of view, it had to built for a woman by a woman.

As ar as the name, I decided to call it Verao. It means summer in Portuguese. After all, I’ve always loved Bossa Nova and the Samba, and my married name is Portuguese!

Miss B:
How did you get interested in crochet?

Pinky: I studied in a Catholic school where we had a subject called Practical Arts. They had us crocheting since the 5th grade and if I remember right, up to the first half of high school. Did I like it then? No, but I did my projects. Every time I’d have a hard time with a certain stitch, my grandmother was there to help me!

But somehow after you graduate from school, when it’s not mandatory, crocheting wasn’t so bad. I’d crochet when I’d like to relax from a hard days work. When you work as a digital fx editor, and everything is digital and in pixels, sometimes you need something organic to connect to. So crochet was something that was good to engage in.

Miss B:In your profile, you write about the candle business you launched while you lived in the Philippines. What did you learn in that business that you bring to Verao?

Pinky: Oh I loved those candles! Just like my bikinis, they were delicious! I had several scents like popcorn, watermelon, popsicle… etc… What I learned was that research and development takes long so you need patience! I remember I made about a hundred ugly candles before I made one that I even considered lighting. I guess I am one of those people that believes anything you make from your hands, begins with your heart.

With Verao, it took me almost 2 years to perfect my first design. Then I had to work on the proper sizing. I actually spent time fitting all different types of body shapes and sizes. Some of us are big on top, small below. Others are small on top and big below, some of us are razor thin and some us are just happy big and beautiful all the way around. There was a huge amount of time I put in to consider both different body types and personalities. And that was the same with the candles. The candles had to have fashion and function, and Verao is the same.

Miss B:I love that you sell your bikinis as separates so your customer can choose exactly what she wants. What are your best selling colors? Which design is your personal favorite?

Pinky: When I started with the Josefina, I started selling them as a pair of the same size. But then, even I don’t wear the same size top and bottom. So by the time I introduced Malia, I decided to sell them as separates. It was my husband who prodded me to sell them as separates! Now you can even choose the colors you want. My best selling colors would be Vanilla, Flamingo and Espresso! My favorite Malia combination though is Aqua and Espresso! My personal Josefina bikini is Espresso and Flamingo.

Miss B:Without revealing any trade secrets, could you walk us through the process of making these fabulous bikinis? (Do you begin with sketches? Do you use patterns?)

Pinky: Sketches! Now, I only have 2 main designs out. The Josefina and the Malia. And they began as sketches. I was right in the middle of a shower with the Josefina, so I had to sketch when I was still drenched, and for the Malia, I lounged at a cafĂ© where I sketched. And that doesn’t just go for my bikinis. It’s the same for anything I want to create. Somehow I get great ideas in the shower. After the sketches, then I worked on the pattern. My first pattern was a very much hacked and improved version of the bikini my Mom gave me. I used that as my basis.

Miss B:What inspires you?

Pinky: For several years now, I’ve been into tropical vintage, so I love looking at old Hawaiian postcards, old movies and their posters. I am currently obsessed with torch ginger! The sea inspires me too, which is why I love turquoise and aqua.

For other color inspirations, I read interior magazines and blogs. That’s why I love Holly Becker’s decor8blog so much! The colors of whatever she blogs about is amazing. I almost feel so lazy because all I have to go there and in an instant, I’m inspired! Same with Domino magazine. It’s a pity it folded. And etsy surfing calms me down too. I also love watching films that are rich in color. Like Amelie. The colors were exquisite! In general, when I want a little lift, I go to the Opera Gallery in Ngee Ann City where I get to take a first hand look of the work of Botero, Andy Warhol, Picasso, and other artists.

Miss B:Do you participate in fairs or shows? If so, what is your favorite part of the experience?

Pinky: You know, I only participated in one fair and it was for my candles. I’d like to keep Verao on a personal level for as long as I can. Which is why Etsy is a great vehicle. At Etsy, people get to know me before they buy the product. Although for my candles, I had a blast! I always told other people that I’m not a salesperson. But somehow, when it’s my creation, that bubbly saleslady in me jumps out! And I love it!

Miss B:What do you wish you had known before you got started?

Pinky: That it’s ok to feel discouraged once in a while. I also wish I read the book The Creative Entrepreneurby Lisa Sonoma Beam first! I read about it in the decor8blog of Holly Becker and bought it because of that!

Miss B:What advice do you have to people starting their own creative small businesses?

Pinky: Aside from getting that book I just mentioned (The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa Sonoma Beam) Don’t be scared to start. Development can take time and can be discouraging. Hang in there! Give yourself a schedule to follow. And blog blog blog. Now… if I can only follow my own advice!

Miss B:Which other Etsy sellers or artists do you admire?

Pinky: Two of my sisters are on etsy! Rina, my New Zealand based sister of Nostalgems was the one who told me about etsy. She makes great heirloom inspired vintage inspired jewelry. My other sister Michi, just started etsy recently. She’s a designer in Manila, but then finally decided to try etsy. She’s doing pretty well! Her store is Toccata where she sells luxurious handmade vintage inspired bridal boleros. I also love LaPomme, who you interviewed too. And even if I’m already married, I love looking at Stacydesigns88’s bridal jewelry shop! She became my etsy friend!

Thanks so much Pinky! It was so fun to go behind the scenes of your beautiful shop! I can't wait for bikini season!


Alana @ The Good Girl Gone Blog said...

These are adorable! Perfect for a summer day lounging by the pool.

Stacy's Designs 88 said...

My friend Pinky makes such cute cute bikinis. Perfect for a hot summer day! Check her shop out. :)

Anonymous said...

Love the colors of Verao! More Power, Pinky! :)


manang kepweng said...

What an inspiring interview! I love Pinky's line... "I am one of those people that believes anything you make from your hands, begins with your heart." - Maya

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...