Kelsey and Monica Rush have experimented with fashion and clothing design since a young age. Monica studied graphic design, web design, and photography in University and is behind the brilliant photo shoot concepts for Bikini Empire. She also built, maintains and runs the online store for Bikini Empire. Monica is an extremely talented artist, and has always been drawn to artistic expressions using different mediums. Kelsey went to University and studied globalization studies and Spanish. However, Kelsey spent most school nights working on paintings, sewing projects, and developing a jewelry line that she made from vintage glass, feathers, leather and gold. Kelsey designs the swimwear for their collection, manages manufacturing and does the styling for the photo shoots. The inspiration for the collection ‘Retro Baja’ was creating a collection of swimwear that would be at home at Coco Chanel’s pool party in the 1970’s. Kelsey and Monica are both avid surfers and aimed to create a line of sporty swimwear with a distinctly more boutique and fashion forward vibe. Recognizing an opportunity within the swimwear industry to use their influence for good, they source their fabric from a solar powered factory in Italy and manufacture their entire collection in Vancouver. Their workers are paid approximately 10-20 times the average wage of workers in sweatshops. Bikini Empire was formed 4 years ago, and prior to that Kelsey ran a small business up-cycling vintage clothes and fabric. Monica has been freelancing as a fashion photographer and web designer for the last 7 years. Kelsey and Monica run their business from opposite sides of the continent- Monica lives on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, and Kelsey lives on Gabriola Island. They spend several months together each year and collaborate on all aspects of the business together, from fabric sourcing and print development, to styling and location scouting for photo shoots.
- Instagram: @bikiniempire
- Facebook: @bikiniempirevancouver