Roxana Salehoun, Swimwear Designer

There is something otherworldly about Roxana Salehoun. Stepping through arched vines into her jungle of a courtyard, one experiences instant sanctuary. Ensconced in Old Hollywood charm, this swimwear maven creates inspired designs previously unimagined. Today Lisa Says Gah invites you to eavesdrop on our chat with Roxana - over Persian tea served on delicate Victorian china with saffron encrusted rock sugar. Gah! Enjoy!

LSG: Hi, Roxana! Your studio is beautiful!! Can you tell us about your space?

Thank you ;) It is my home as well. I wanted to have a space for customers to come by and try on suits. Fitting for swimwear is so intimate, and I find it most comfortable when you can have a one on one fitting and get honest feedback. I have been in this place for a little over a year, and it is finally coming along... it's a work in progress.

LSG: How did you find your way here?

I grew up in Dallas, Texas and went to school at Parsons in New York City. After graduating, I moved to San Francisco where I lived for three years before moving down to LA. I worked for a couple different companies in SF, including GAP, which was my main reason for moving there. I have been in Los Angeles for two years now.

LSG: What inspired you to take the plunge into independent work and pioneer your namesake company?

 I just couldn't stop thinking about it. I've had the vision for this line of swimwear since graduating from Parsons - It was dead winter in New York and all I wanted to do was move to an island and make bikinis. I still have all my old sketches and the first bikini I made for myself. After about a year of sourcing and developing the basis for the brand, I moved to Los Angeles and launched the line.

LSG: Materials obviously play a huge part in your line. Is that where you start when creating a new piece? Tell us about the process of designing a collection.

I am constantly designing in my head but when it comes time to start a collection, I narrow down and finalize my colors. It is very easy for me to get carried away so I find if I focus on a color story and theme I can create a more cohesive collection. All of my designs start out as rough sketches. After patterns are made, we do about 2-3 fittings for each style as every time we change the fabric (or even just color) we must re-fit. Once all my fits and colors are in place, I edit and finalize all trims and hardware, and begin to make samples.

LSG: What inspired you to incorporated such creative and unusual materials into swimwear?

The brand was built on the idea of seeing the suits as outfits with the appliqué and charms and textures being the accessories. I find inspiration from everything but mostly from the women around me - no matter what size, shape, style, or age.  Whether I know them or I'm just observing . It makes me happy when I see a woman who has taken pride in dressing and taking care of herself. One of my favorite things to do is to watch someone get ready and do their hair and makeup before going out, especially when I am staying in, it relaxes me. Growing up, I remember watching my mom get ready for parties, and then later roommates and friends. It's so fascinating to me- to see their ways and rituals.

LSG: Being self-employed requires some major discipline. What advice would you share with people just getting into self-employment or working from home?

Keep yourself motivated by being active. I love making to-do lists... I list everything single thing I need to do. Also, because I am not the most organized person I try to make an effort to regroup and clean up my office for a couple of hours once a week. I find that being organized is the key to keeping you focused. There is a lot that needs to be done outside of business matters, so if you need to take a break to take care of other things, you should- it's a nice way to keep moving.  It is easy to get consumed by work, and you have to remember to take time for yourself too.

LSG: Is it important to have a routine? What is yours?

I have a mini - routine that I find helps me start my day. I wake up and immediately make my coffee and put on workout clothes. I go for a little run/walk around the neighborhood, usually 30 min to an hour but even if it is only for 15 minutes, I go. It helps me mentally so much to get air and exercise. I come back, reheat my coffee, have breakfast and get to work. When possible, I take a midday nap because I usually need it. And after the nap, I have to have some tea. Then get back to work!

LSG: As an independent business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a company?

To trust your vision and see it through. Of course, work hard and be persistent, but also trust in the natural flow and you will find that things happen as they will and as they should. It's also important to remember that nothing is set in stone, there is always time to grow, evolve and change so just start.

LSG: Is there anything in LA you recommend we check out while here?!!?

Check out the Persian Square/Tehrangeles neighborhood for a delicious meal, and be sure to have the traditional ice cream of saffron and rose water for dessert!

Interview: Olivia La Roche  Photography: Anna-Alexia Basile  Design: Alaia Manley

Interview: Olivia La Roche

Photography: Anna-Alexia Basile

Design: Alaia Manley