Outplay Swimwear: Oral History

Marialexandra for Outplay Swimwear was interviewed on February 28th, 2018 at 5:34 pm CST by Kelly Reddy-Best via Zoom. The interview was 1 hour and 38 minutes. The oral history transcript reflects the history of the brand at the time of the interview.

Oral History Video

Oral History Transcript

REDDY-BEST: Yeah, that’s the most important part. So, can you tell me about your background, briefly? Where did you grow up? Where have you lived?

MARIALEXANDRA: I was originally born in Venezuela, but I never grew up there. My father worked for an international company so we moved around a lot. I’ve lived in many countries, I’ve lived in the Dominican Republic, I’ve lived in Ecuador, and I’ve lived in several places in the states. I kind of grew up a little bit everywhere. I went to school in Savannah, I went to Savannah College of Art and Design, a few years ago. SCAD was barely starting when I went to SCAD, and then my intention was to go back to Venezuela after graduating, since I did not grow up there. I grew up very half- American, half- Venezuelan, so I wanted to kind of take a break from all the moving around and just settle in Venezuela, but unfortunately the government situation took a turn very quickly shortly after I graduated, so I moved back to the States and stayed in the States.

REDDY-BEST: And you’re in Miami.

MARIALEXANDRA: I am currently in Miami, yes.

REDDY-BEST: I thought that was true, but I always like to double check. What did you study specifically when you were at SCAD?

MARIALEXANDRA: I have a BFA in Fashion Design and I have a minor in Art History,

REDDY-BEST: And, oh so you can appreciate a little bit of the history part

MARIALEXANDRA: Oh yes, very much and I’m a total history buff

REDDY-BEST: Really? Oh awesome, I love it. Can you talk a little about your, professional background?

MARIALEXANDRA: Well, it’s kind of odd, because my professional background starts very, very early on. I started designing when I was around 10 and I made my first wedding gown at the age of 14. A customer actually wore my design – that I actually designed and made at the age of 14- down the aisle, so that’s when I knew, that I was set, there was no way I was doing anything else. So I actually started working with my own designs before I started college and then after I graduated from SCAD, which I did as quickly as possible, because I needed to get out of school. I needed to start working, I actually tried to drop out several times and my parents wouldn’t let me drop out. I just wanted to work, I wanted to do what I loved. So, I graduated in 3 years. Since I had been doing this for so long as a teenager, when I graduated everybody was like, “okay, finally, you graduated”, so I had customers, I had clients come to me right off, as soon as I got out of college, so without even planning anything or, really looking for it, I had a business. I realized, all of a sudden, I had a business. So, I just basically just started working on my own, designing custom-made, evening-wear and bridal gowns and that kept growing. It grew pretty well, it was pretty healthy until about 2007, when everybody’s business went down the toilet and that’s when I made my biggest change.

REDDY-BEST: How would you describe your personal clothing style?

MARIALEXANDRA: Ah, that depends on the day. I’m usually very, very girly, I guess, but, let’s say, Audrey-Hepburn-kind-of-girly: very classy, classical. I don’t add too much on, I don’t wear very much makeup, just the red lipstick. There’s usually red lipstick but there’re days where I just want to put on like a pair of jeans, pair of sneakers and a t-shirt and that’s it, you know it all depends on the day. Or if I go to the gym and I don’t feel like changing, I’ll wear gym clothes, that sounds horrible, but I do it, so. And you know, I would. I make sportswear, so I’ll wear Outplay, just hanging out in it a lot. It all depends on the day.

REDDY-BEST: How did the idea for the company come about?

MARIALEXANDRA: Well, actually, it’s not a short story, so I’m going to try to summarize it as much as I can. In 2007 when everything was falling apart on everybody, especially those of us who were in the retail industry, it felt like it happened overnight. It must have happened maybe in a month or so, which is a really short period of time, which in my head was overnight. We were selling at Saks and Neiman’s and these boutiques throughout the country and all of a sudden, all the boutiques – 50-60% of the boutiques closed their doors overnight without paying. I have to add that Saks never placed another order, we canceled our order with Neiman’s because we didn’t want them to cancel it on us, because that costs a lot of money. So, it just snowballed into this huge mess, and in that mess, I was trying to keep afloat, and I was trying to survive, because basically that’s what we’re all doing, trying to survive that mess in 2008. Something happened where I said, “there’s got to be something more that I can do, there’s got to be something that I can do with my talent that makes more sense,” and it wasn’t about, “I need to find another business that makes money,” it wasn’t about that. It was just that I was very tired. This industry’s very, very tough and it’s not like I was making all the money in the world. I was sitting back and not doing anything. I was packing boxes. I had a huge team of people, and I still had so much physical work and business work and office work and paperwork. I was exhausted and I was mentally exhausted as a designer, so I felt that there had to be something else I could do where I could still do what I love to do, which is create and come up with these amazing things that I can come up with in my head and make them real, which I thought I could use to affect people’s lives for the better. So, I joined forces with Bernadette Smith, who at the time, was the very first gay wedding planner in the country and her company was called 14 Stories, and the reason it was called 14 stories was because it was the 14th Amendment that changed that gave the right for blacks and whites to marry. It was also 14 representatives who went to in Massachusetts who changed the law for marriage equality in Massachusetts. So, 14 meant a lot. So, she named her company 14 Stories. So, we joined forces and we created a company called Fourteen.  At the time we were the first ones to do this. We created a line where I designed jackets, vests and pants that you could mix and match and they were wedding attire for anybody who didn’t want to wear a dress when they got married. So, I thought okay, this is, this is really, this is different and this is where I’m helping people fill this gap that doesn’t exist in the market. The person who doesn’t want to wear a dress is stuck with buying a suit where they feel uncomfortable going into the store, then it doesn’t fit properly and then they have to spend money on buying the suit that doesn’t fit properly and take it to the tailor to get it fit properly, which costs another fortune.  It was too much, so I wanted to offer people this option. We made it mix and match, so it didn’t matter where you fall, it was just that if, I want the blouse to be really, really girly and the jacket had to be very, very masculine you could just have it and mix it up all you want. So, we came up with that, and I worked on it for about three years. I actually did almost two years of pure research in order to get it done right and get the fit right, I mean, the fit had to be perfect. I believe that any brand, fit comes before anything else, and if your fit doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter if you size up. It doesn’t matter how pretty it looks or how cool it looks, if fit doesn’t work, you’re done. You might sell it once, but that’s it. So, in order to accommodate the fitting, it took me a year and a half, almost two years of trial and error and a lot of focus groups. I had focus groups for trying on people, and fitting people. I would just sit there and listen. I sat at these meetings, and I listened to them try the clothes on and I listened to them talking afterwards about it. Swimwear kept coming up as the biggest problem and it was horror stories. It wasn’t just like, “oh I can’t find anything to wear.” No, it was just horror story after horror story and I kept thinking, “wait, they’re not complaining about the jacket, they’re complaining about the swimwear.” This is the biggest problem they have. I did some research. I asked my business partner, Bernadette, if she wasn’t interested in adding swimwear to Fourteen. At the beginning she was okay about it – she was a little iffy because she’s new to the garment industry, so she didn’t know much about the garment industry, so she was like, “Oh, I’m not sure,” I kept saying, this is, this is what we have to do, this is where we can make the most difference, and then one day she called me up and she said this industry’s too hard, she knew I had warned her about it but it was just too hard, you know, “I’m out”. So, it wasn’t her thing. I understood it wasn’t her thing. I can take it because I love what I do, and because I understand the industry’s insane and it’s harsh and it’s cruel, but I love it you know? I think us designers kind of have to have something special up here [gestures to head] to take it. I closed Fourteen, right away, because it really didn’t make sense financially. It wasn’t making sense financially. We were pouring money into it, and it was making no money. It was very expensive to produce when we were producing it. At one point I was cutting and sewing non-stop, just myself, and I had to take care of the business. It didn’t make any sense. Within two months, I had put together, along with all the research I did for Fourteen, I had put together everything for Outplay and launched Outplay. What I did was that I launched Outplay with pre-orders first to make sure it would work. And it was just such a huge hit right off the bat, that I with that I knew this was it. I could really make a difference in people’s lives with something as simple as swimwear and that’s how Outplay came to life.

REDDY-BEST: So what year was that?

MARIALEXANDRA: I actually launched Outplay in May of 2014, so between 2007 and 2014 I was all basically concentrated in on the brand Fourteen, and then in 2014, I launched Outplay.

REDDY-BEST: Cool, so you were doing all the research, listening to the focus groups, gathering data and then the major theme was “Swim” right?


REDDY-BEST: Most of my research focus is on queer women’s experience fashioning their body, how they feel, what they wear, how they wear it, and swim inevitably comes up, every time.

MARIALEXANDRA: It’s a huge issue.It is a bigger problem than people realize it is.

REDDY-BEST: Oh absolutely. Can you tell me about the name? How did you come up with that?

MARIALEXANDRA: I wanted to use ah- ah, a play on words, I wanted it to sound strong, I wanted it to sound like something that it could mean much more than just a name. So, Outplay is the fact that you can Outplay yourself, you can Outplay somebody else – you can be better, you can be a better you, it plays with it, you can see in the font as well, you can go out and play, go outside and play. Don’t wear this to hang out inside and just not doing anything. Just go out and move. And at the same time, it’s Outplay, it means Out- meaning, this is for you. You- you can go Out and feel comfortable and not have body issues because, Outplay’s here to help you, that’s the- that’s the play on the words. So that’s where it came from.

REDDY-BEST: And then, can you just tell me a little bit about the model for the business, for example, if I wanted to get something, how do I get it? How does it work?

MARIALEXANDRA: Well, currently, we only sell online, either through our website or other websites, we sell through Amazon. We sell through other websites such as Radimo.la, which is, a great online non-gender conforming accumulation of clothing brands. So, we have a few brands online that sell our products. We don’t sell retail yet, because I was burned in the past. I have stores that still haven’t paid me back since 2007, so I’m a little iffy about going into wholesale. I am opening up to the option, because we have had stores come to us and ask us if we will wholesale to them. This is a personal thing, a personal fear. I actually am starting opening myself up to that possibility. We are, though, negotiating, sales and wholesales in Europe though, which will be great, because we sell a lot to Europe and shipping is crazy-insane and people still pay it because there’s no other option. I wish we could make it less expensive, but, unfortunately, we’re not big enough to have amazing prices for international shipping, but hopefully we’re able to sell internationally. If we can sell in Europe, people in Europe will be able to have that much easier access to our products, will would be awesome. I’d love to see retail in Australia, because we sell a lot to Australia, but I don’t have any contacts, so if anybody knows of anybody, I want to get to Australia somehow! [laughs]. But that’s how we work: you just place your order on our website and within 24 hours, if the product is in stock, your order is shipped out, and if anything doesn’t fit properly you can exchange it because our swimwear sizing is so different. I came up with a sizing chart that’s very unique to us and because the product itself, especially the tops, are so different, since the compression levels affect how everything fits. So sometimes you do have to try it on, send it back, and get it exchanged until you find the fit, the right size, and exactly how much compression you really want or need. So, we do have easy exchange policies, and you can return anything within 30 days, if it hasn’t been worn, just tried it on, so it’s pretty easy because we understand that it’s not an everyday product, and it’s not something you see every day. It exists forever if it’s for you and is what fits you best.

REDDY-BEST: what’s the name of the website again, that sells the gender-neutral clothing?

MARIALEXANDRA: Radimo.la, it’s R-A-D-I-M-O-L-A.

REDDY-BEST: Okay cool, I’m going to look them up after this,

MARIALEXANDRA: Yeah, they’re great. That was founded by Danielle and she has been, been amazing with us. She discovered us when we were just getting started. I think we had been open for about a year and a half, and she just emailed one day and said “hey, I have, you know, I have a huge following on Instagram and on YouTube, I’d love to get to try your product.” She bought a top and a bottom and you know, it’s not something we paid her to say. She bought her top and bottom and she was just in awe and just talks about us non-stop which is very cool. She started this website where she sells several different brands that are all just gender neutral, so she includes us on there, so she sells Outplay as well. She’s a very cool person.

REDDY-BEST: Can you just describe what products you offer, what kinds of items that you offer and then tell us what are the range of the price points?

MARIALEXANDRA: We have swimwear and some sportswear. We’re starting to add a little more sportswear. For the swimwear we have a variety of tops and bottoms, and for sportswear we have tops and bottoms as well. Our tops overall come in three compression levels, where some come in two compression levels, some in three compression levels. Compression levels are: no compression, low compression, and high compression. They’re not binders, I get people that are angry all the time, they’ll say, “this is not a binder!” “Yes, it’s not a binder because you cannot use a binder to swim in and be active in. You have to able move, it has to be able to stretch with you or you’re going to cause yourself a lot of physical harm. So, I created this idea of layers – it’s layers of fabric that create the compression, and the no-compression is obviously just from the regular spandex that you use in swimwear, it’s just the same cut as everything else. Then low compression has the outer-layer of fabric, the lining, because everything is lined. I like everything to be really nice on the inside, so, that’s my couture side still in my head. Everything needs to be lined and everything has to be pretty on the inside as well. So, it’s the outer layer, the lining, and then between the lining, for the low compression, the front of the top has this special mesh material that still stretches but much less than everything else and that compresses in the front. High compression has that same material in the front and in the back, so it smushes you in as much as possible from every end, so that is what creates the compression and acts as kind of a binder that you can be active and swim in. That’s how we do that. So, all our tops come in either low-compression high-compression, or no compression. We actually sell a lot more no-compression than I ever expected us to, but it’s because the shapes are in the cuts of the tops, so not everybody wants the compression and the semi-binding effect. A lot of people just want the more androgynous cut, which is cool. Then we have short tops and long tops in a variety of styles, and we’re adding slowly, but we’re adding newer options and colors and stuff. What I tried to do from the beginning, is that we offer five main colors, so you can mix and match anything and you’ll always be able to match your top to your bottom. So, you can today buy a swimsuit – which is the short top, and the Tomboier, which is one of our first shorts and then maybe 6 months down, you – you don’t want those shorts anymore, you want just, you want to mix it up a little, but you want to keep the same color. Then you can buy a pair of board shorts or a jammer shorts, and they’ll always match. We might have slight -when we have new production, the fabric might not be exactly the same color but it’s so close, that only those of us who know about the industry will catch the difference in color, and the rest of the people usually won’t so, that’s okay. Now for sportswear, we have sports bras, some really cool pants, and some board shorts – I keep trying to add on little by little. We had a horrible disaster with that factory with board shorts at the beginning, so we’re still trying to recoup from that and try to add new board shorts on there. But I think we got that one covered now, finally. What else do we have? I think it just keeps growing with the tops and the bottoms for swimwear mainly. We keep adding more and more and more. And but then, this year, with the different time we’re going to have, for Pride, we’re going to have a very unique collection that will be only for a limited time, but once it’s sold out it’s done, we’re not bringing it back, with a very cool Pride pattern, it’s just to make some pictures from pride events from around the world, with a really unique design and then what we want to do is, every year for Pride – Miami it’s in April. So, we’re going to start in April and every year for Pride we’re going to bring a new collection so you could collect all the Pride collections from every year. So, we’ll have the traditional short top that we call the Swimmee. We’ll have the shorts and this year we’ll have – this really cool, like Capri pants that are called “jammer pants” that have this huge, very colorful, very cool print on them, and those will be part of the collection as well. That’s coming in April. It’s coming in a little bit of time, but it’s coming in April.

REDDY-BEST: I saw the Pride collections and I was wondering, I was wondering what that is?

MARIALEXANDRA: Yeah, it’s coming very soon. We should be getting that stuff in from our factory probably in the next month or so and we going to have our very big- our very first really big pride event during Pride Miami Beach this year and there’s where we’re really going to finally, just launch it. So, we have pictures of it and everything, but we, we’re like holding on to those pictures.

REDDY-BEST: What might a typical day look like for you?

MARIALEXANDRA: I don’t have a routine; no day is like the other. I’m a little OCD, very organized and I still can’t manage to really do what I’m going to say I’m going to do at every hour. We all wear a lot of hats here, we all do a lot, because we’re so small. I do try to outsource what we can’t hire for right now, because we’re so small, and like I said, we’re 100 % fully self-funded so, as we grow, we’re funding ourselves with what we’re producing. We don’t have VC money coming in and hiring 30 people, that would be awesome! But, that’s not what we’re doing. I’m in charge of it all. I have to design, I have to create, I have to make sure that photographers are taking pictures that we need, that what’s being posted on Instagram is what we need to put out there. I work with the factory, I’m the only one that works directly with the factory, so I’m constantly, talking with the factories, getting production sent, you know, it’s a  little bit of everything, really. There’s no any real order to it yet, we’re starting to have, after 4 years, a kind of a procedure to everything that gets done, but because we’re so small, I guess we all still try to do everything. Our roles aren’t very separated yet and we still overlap on a lot.

REDDY-BEST: What is your title? Are you the founder? Or how do you describe yourself?

MARIALEXANDRA: I describe myself as founder, and head designer.

REDDY-BEST: How many other folks do you have working?

MARIALEXANDRA: We are 4 without counting everybody else that chips in and what we outsource.

REDDY-BEST: What is your design process like? How do you go from the first idea, to the final product?

MARIALEXANDRA: I do a lot of listening, I listen a lot. I go to all the events that we do and I talk to every single model and talk to people outside and I make sure I talk to as many people as I can to, to  get a glimpse or an idea of what people are feeling comfortable in, what makes them uncomfortable, and what they wear now. Without listening to people, without them knowing, you don’t realize they’re telling you what the problem is. So, 99.9 % of what I design is based on what I heard, what I was told and I could interpret that into, “this is my solution to a problem I’ve  heard 8 times. Let me look into this and this is what I’m going to design to be that solution. I’m sorry about that problem and this is my solution to that problem.” That’s kind of what I do. It’s very different and a very different system or way of designing from what I used to do. When I was doing bridal, it just came to me in the most creative way possible and I didn’t need to have any reasoning behind it, as long as I could make it. I am very persistent with that. If I can dream it up and come up with it in my head, I know I can make it. I guess I am a very functional designer so in my head, I make sure that the pattern and the cutting and everything works in my head. If it works in my head, I can produce it. So, if I have somebody say, “that’s not possible.” My response is, “go back and try, because I know it’s possible.” That’s how I got these tops made. Everybody kept telling me, “you can’t make these swim-tops like this,” and I kept saying “you can, this is what we’re going to do, let’s go do it.” It was back and forth with several manufacturers until I found a factory that fell in love with the idea, and that was completely open to every crazy idea I had and I finally got to make what I wanted to make. That’s how I did it. So yeah, it’s a very different process making very functional, very cool looking, swimwear than making beautiful wedding gowns.

REDDY-BEST: Where are your factories? Where do you produce?

MARIALEXANDRA: I produce most everything in Columbia. The reason why I do that is – it’s not cost, because it’s not inexpensive to produce in Columbia. It’s not like when everybody says, “Oh, you do it overseas because it’s cheap.” No, it’s not cheap. I produce in Columbia because the best spandex in the world is made in Columbia and I need my product to be top-notch, because you’re going to wear that thing and you’re going to wear it and wear it and wear it, and it’s not going to lose its color, and it’s not going to lose its shape. I mean, it’s swimwear.  You know it’s going to be the best quality. It’s not going to be the swimwear you’re going to buy for 10 bucks at Target or Walmart, because it’s made in China. I know every single factory that I work with. I’ve been to every single factory I work with. I’ve seen how they work, how these people work in the factory. That’s another thing that’s very important to me. I practice what I preach. I will not sell product produced in a factory that I haven’t been to, and that I don’t know where they’re working or how they’re working or what conditions they’re working in. The factories I work with actually have daycares for the mothers that have kids and they have educational programs for the mothers that work there. So the factories are aligned with my thought process and my ethics and my goals, and, again, it’s the best product. The best country in the world to manufacture anything that stretches is Columbia. Their manufacturing is impeccable and I can literally create any fabric. If I tell them I want a fabric that’s wicking and that’s anti-bacterial and stretches “this much, but not this much” and I want it to change colors, they’ll make it for me and it’ll be the best fabric in the world. So, the decision to produce swimwear in Columbia was a no brainer. I make everything that’s cotton and the t-shirts in the US, because you can’t get better t-shirts than the ones made in the U.S., so I do manufacture t-shirts in the U.S., but that’s about it.

REDDY-BEST: How much do your products cost?

MARIALEXANDRA: Oh yeah, well, everything ranges. Let me see, I’m thinking. We have bottoms that start at about 25 dollars, like our bikini bottoms that are like surfer bikini bottoms, those are about 25 dollars and I think our most expensive product is our sweatpants that are about 70 dollars. Everything’s about within that range. Most of our tops are, I believe, about 40 to 50-something-dollars. So, everything’s about in that range. We’re not 10 bucks, but we’re not three hundred dollars. Our price points are still very accessible, still very affordable, especially for a product that’s going to last so long.

REDDY-BEST: Yeah and with so much research and development.

MARIALEXANDRA:  There is a lot of research behind it, yeah. My purpose isn’t to get as much money as I can out of five products. My purpose is to be able to grow and be able to offer the market as many solutions and options as possible that are accessible to anybody. So, that’s why I wanted to keep the price points as accessible as possible. I want to be able to buy, purchase or produce the best product, best quality product as possible.  We could have these products made in China and sell them for 15 bucks, but they’re going to break, and they’re not going to do the same thing. I need it to be the best product possible. So, we found a good price point for us.

REDDY-BEST:  Do you have any garments nearby that you could show and highlight?

MARIALEXANDRA: I can show you – this is a mess, ha! There is swimwear and little pieces of fabric everywhere. I can show you something that we’re working on right now, that we haven’t launched.


MARIALEXANDRA: This is actually a collection that we’re doing with Danielle, owner of Radimo.la. She really likes mesh, and she loves our tops, so together we came up with these tops. See it’s short! It has the mesh part in the top, but then this part is a compression top, like the rest of our tops, so you’ll be able to get this in no-compression, low-compression and high-compression and then we have the same version but it’s even shorter and doesn’t have sleeves and the back is a little, kind of like a baseball t-shirt. Then we have the long version, which would be similar to say, the Flatsea, which is the longest top we have, so it goes all the way down like a t-shirt, and all the black area has compression in it. This one is actually high compression, which is completely lined, so you can’t really see the compression area, but it’s has compression in the back so I can’t really stretch it much. These are hard to put on but then it has the mesh on top, like a t-shirt.

REDDY-BEST: They’re all pullover?

MARIALEXANDRA: No. I’m going to add zippers soon, but not quite yet. These you pull over your head, so they are a little hard to put on and take off, but once you got the hang of it you’re fine. Once you put it on, it’s like this tight glove that you put on. It’s pretty comfortable, too. I can wear them, they’re pretty comfortable.

REDDY-BEST: You said that you go to like some of the events, like some spaces to listen to complaints. Would that be like, Pride? I saw that you went to some fashion shows…

MARIALEXANDRA: Well, we’ve been to Queer Fashion Week which was amazing in Oakland. I went to that 2 or 3 years ago. We’ve done this event called Unconventional, which is a traveling show that actually Outplay is sponsoring the big event we’re doing for Pride this year. It’s in Miami Beach and it’s called Unconventional Miami, sponsored by OutPlay. It’s not 100% our event. We’re just convinced the producer of Unconventional to bring the event to Miami and we’re sponsoring the whole thing. So, we’re going to have different brands and it’ll be really cool show but OutPlay is actually bringing them down. Unconventional is a very cool show. The creator is Fallon Davis. She was the creator of a Queer Fashion Week, as well. The idea is to bring everything that’s unconventional – that’s where the name comes from – that has to do with fashion and art, and it is for the unconventional person, who is anywhere from gay, lesbian, bisexual, to trans, to straight, it doesn’t matter, as long as you can express yourself within in the fashion and the art world. That’s who this show is for, so we’re bringing the show down to Miami. We’ve been to the show in Nashville, we were in Atlanta last month, we’re going to be in Toronto in July, Miami in April, and I think there’s a show in LA at the end of the year, as well. Before that, we also did an event called “What is Butch,” which was kind of the same idea, and it was traveling show, as well, so it was always present in all these shows. I get the chance to speak to people all around the country and, not only the models that are trying it on. In the beginning it was just like, “Oh, this is very cool.” Now I get models going, “Oh my god, I just bought this last week, ” and I love that and it’s like, “Yeay! Tell me all about it, I want to hear it all.” So, it’s very cool to have people walk up to you and say, “I bought this top, like a month ago, like two months ago, or whenever, and I love it.” I get comments, especially when people write in or email in or when people call. I’ve had mothers call, and it is just, “Oh My God.” I tear up every single time. As an entrepreneur and as a designer, there are days when you’re like, “I’m tired, why I am doing this?” and all of a sudden you get this email, or you get this call and you’re like, “this is why! Oh my god!” It’s just mind-blowing, so I get to hear it in person when we do all these traveling shows which is really, really cool.

REDDY-BEST: A lot of brands will pay high attention to trends or what’s happening in fashion. Do you feel like this is something that’s considered in the design process or that it’s more about talking to the individuals?

MARIALEXANDRA: I think it goes hand in hand with the fact that we’re self-funded, so we can’t just produce random stuff and have it not sell, or have a new print that only lasts a little bit without really having a thought process behind it. We don’t think about trends. I do not concentrate on trends whatsoever when we’re designing. What I do is I concentrate on my customer and it’s what my customer really needs and wants. Most of my customers don’t buy five swimsuits every year. They want one, and they just want to stick to it, and they just want to be comfortable in it. So, if I get too trendy that’s not my customer. My customer needs a solution and what’s going to look great and feel great and to just be able to go swimming. You know, a lot of my customers haven’t been swimming or haven’t been out for years because they didn’t find anything that made them feel comfortable out in the world, when they were swimming or running or jogging, or even at the gym, and this isn’t something that they can wear because it’s cool because it’s in or  because everybody else is wearing, the cool kids are wearing it – no it’s because this is what makes them not only feel good and look good, but allows them to go back to all these activities that thy always wanted to do but weren’t doing because there was no way for them to do it in a comfortable way. So, trends are definitely not part of my design process at all.

REDDY-BEST: Do you ever look at celebrities or style icons or artists, for inspiration for what might be happening such as some very queer focused celebrities that are the focus of the community, like Ellen?

MARIALEXANDRA: Not really, because if you’ve seen what Ellen wears when they take pictures of her at the beach or at the pool…

REDDY-BEST: No! What does she wear?

MARIALEXANDRA: A one-piece weird-looking ugly thing.

REDDY-BEST: [laughs]

MARIALEXANDRA: I’ve been trying to get to her somehow so she can wear some Outplay and look really cool in it, but it’s really hard to get to her. Yeah, the only pictures I’ve ever seen her wear in terms of swimwear, is like this really weird black, plain one-piece, which is like, “that’s not you Ellen, I can help you! Trust me, I can help you!” I don’t look at celebrities, because I believe that most celebrities are putting out an image that they need to portray that is not necessarily what they want to wear, not necessarily what they feel comfortable in and not necessarily what they chose. Most of the time, someone else has chosen it for them, so that can’t influence me, because that’s not functional for my customer. Honestly, it’s crazy how swimwear is such a huge problem. Swimwear and sportswear, because sportswear one way or another is still related in there, because as much you want to wear board shorts and look as masculine as possible, there are certain parts of your body that don’t fit into how it was designed and made to fit the body it was made for.  What we’ve done, for example, with our board shorts – our board shorts are made so your hips, and your butt fit comfortably, but it doesn’t accentuate anything so, in the end, it looks like board short, and it doesn’t look form fitting or hip hugging. They just fit like board short, that’s it. And that was all just from listening to customers say, “this is what I wish.” Or usually it is, “I bought these Quicksilver whatever-shorts but they don’t fit my hips!”  “Yeah, because they’re not made with your measurements in mind.” It sounds a little controversial, but it’s true. When I was doing all the research for 14, I realized, through all this studying and measuring, that most of the more masculine leaning folks do not have traditional female measurements and they don’t have male measurements, they’re in the middle. This is why it’s so hard to find clothing, and that’s why our size chart is so different. It’s because we had to accommodate two different types of bodies within one size chart. People who are more masculine leaning have these very odd measurements that are like in the middle and that aren’t either way. We were able to fit them into our size chart, but that’s one of the biggest reasons and people don’t know that because, obviously, who does all this research and measures all these people for fun? That’s actually what we came up with. We couldn’t believe it. My pattern-maker and I would sit there and we would measure and measure people and measure people and then we’d go sit and we’d analyze all these numbers and we’re like, “this is crazy,” and it all adds up. It wasn’t just one, it was like 15 out of 20 people. So, that was how we came up with all of this. The customers were so particular about how it has to fit on you, and if these measurements are traditional female measurements or traditional male measures, they’re not going to fit a large portion of the community. I get people tell me all the time – “I want to start a clothing company.”  And I ask, “do you have any experience? Did you study anything?” “No, but I can make t-shirts,” “Well, that’s not the same thing.” The first thing I say is, “you have to make your own patterns, if you don’t know about pattern-making, go take a class, because if you’re going to hire somebody you need to know what they’re doing, because if not, forget it.”

REDDY-BEST: You need to know about grading, the sizing it’s just the base of everything that people do.

MARIALEXANDRA: It’s incredibly important, it’s the base of everything you do.

REDDY-BEST: Most people go into it because they had a bad experience shopping, and they want to serve their community.

MARIALEXANDRA: Yes, that’s my dilemma, that’s exactly my dilemma and of course, I mean this industry is very tough. It’s very cruel and it’s very expensive. It’s incredibly expensive. It’s not like writing an e-book and selling something where there’s an unlimited supply because it’s an e-book. No, this is production and production is very expensive. So, if you go into this not knowing exactly what you’re doing…

REDDY-BEST: It’s scary.

MARIALEXANDRA: It’s very scary

REDDY-BEST: If they get burned, a few times…

MARIALEXANDRA: It adds up very quickly and then you end up with a whole bunch of debt and nothing to show for it. This is the biggest misconceptions about the garment industry is that people really think it’s just like, “oh I’m a designer too, please! You know, I can make that.” Yeah, go ahead.

REDDY-BEST: I have so much respect for you and other designers who- I mean, I teach about culture, and fashion and design but there is nothing like the real thing – it’s crazy.

MARIALEXANDRA: And it is not, I can’t say this enough. It is not a glamorous industry. People think it is but it is not! It is grueling. You know from my graduating class at SCAD, when SCAD was very new, so we were very small class, I believe we were 13 or 14  and today it’s like 5,000 students, but from my graduating class, I am the only one still in the industry. Everybody else quit the industry because it’s so tough. It’s grueling and I am convinced it’s because I am just completely nuts and that’s why I stay in it

REDDY-BEST: And talent, you have to be talented.

MARIALEXANDRA: Thank you, thank you, but I think you have to have kind of a little bit of “eek!”

REDDY-BEST: You also have to listen, too. You just have to listen.

MARIALEXANDRA: Shut up and listen that’s all you do. I think that plays a big role in everything in life. If you just sit back and listen, you would learn so much and I think we’d all get along much better that way, but when it comes to producing a product it is never about you as the designer ever. It’s never about you and it’s never about what you want, and it’s never about what’s best for you. It has to be, for it to be a successful brand and a successful product, it has to be about your customer. If you sit and listen, you will hear it. You just have to sit and listen.

REDDY-BEST: Who are your customers?

MARIALEXANDRA: Well, it is kind of hard to know exactly who are my customers. As in, to pinpoint every single person but, from the people we’ve received emails from who’ve told their life stories via email as well as people that we have seen and that I’ve met in person, we have a wide range. We do have quite a big F-to-M consumer population, who are either transitioning, or are starting to, or just want to feel more masculine. That’s a big chunk of our market. We have a lot of butch women a part of our market, but I think a huge portion is just people who are non-conforming who just don’t want to wear flowers and little hearts but, don’t want to wear, the manliest thing in the world that still doesn’t fit them right. They just want to be smack in the middle, and they don’t care, if they’re a she or a he, it’s just smack in the middle and that is the biggest market we have. We do have like a little spill over now and then, where we have a lot of surfer girls and skater girls. It doesn’t really matter where they fall in gender identity, this is just more comfortable for them. I mention this a lot, I had a call from a mom once, that said that her daughter did white-water rafting but she had very large breasts so it was very hard to find something for her daughter to wear while white water rafting and this was exactly what she needed, because it solved every single issue with for her daughter’s big breasts while white water rafting. So, we do have some extreme sports people who are starting to catch on to the brand because everything stays in its place. Even our bikini bottoms, they stay in their place, and they’re made for surfers, so they stay in their place. So, it’s starting to spill over into these other markets, as well, but our core customer is just gender non-conforming – smack in the middle -I-don’t-want-to-deal-with-any-of-the-other-stuff-kind-of-person.

REDDY-BEST: So your consumers mainly purchase online, so how do they like find out about you?

MARIALEXANDRA: At first, I think it was only word of mouth, because we didn’t even have an email list. It was just like, out of the blue, I just pulled this up, boom, threw it on the internet. So mainly word of mouth and I think word of mouth is still our biggest ally today. I have a lot of people who write or call or that I meet that say, “oh my friend bought it, so I had to go get it,” or, “my friend told me about it.” We have people who write in and say, “Oh, I have to tell my friends about it.” So, word of mouth is a big deal for us, a very big deal for us and we take care of our customers as much as we can as personal as we can in order make sure that they’re happy and that they let everybody else know that they’re happy. We are starting to participate in a lot different events throughout the country that are starting to give us a little more brand awareness throughout the country. Again, it all goes down to money, comes down to money as well, because we’re self-funded kind of hard to do all kinds of things, to do everything we want to do is kind of hard because everything takes a lot of money. Now we’re in a position where we’re starting to slowly be able to advertise on certain websites and starting to do certain events and now we’ve been asked to donate for several galas that are throughout the country that raise funds for LGBT youth or LGBT education. We’re starting to get approached for these things, as well, so it’s been a gradual thing. It’s been slow but steady. We advertised on a few websites, and a few blogs. We’ve maybe been doing that for a year and a half, for two years we’ve done, the website Autostraddle. They do a summer camp,  and we’ve been one their big supporters and we do their biggest giveaway, so we got some advertising through there, and we got to interact with some customers there as well. I think the biggest thing we’ve done so far, until this year, was Autostraddle’s camp. We also were part of Autostraddle’s affiliate program, so whoever buys our product through their website, they get paid for it, so they like promoting us, which is cool.

REDDY-BEST: Who interacts with the customers? Is it you interacting or is it someone on your team?

MARIALEXANDRA: It depends on who’s closer to the phone and who’s closer to the computer Yeah, I answer the phone a lot.

REDDY-BEST: And then, what are you most proud of?

MARIALEXANDRA: I am the proudest of the difference I can make in people’s lives through my creations. Through what I can come up with in my imagination and bring to life, I can make such a big difference in somebody’s life, and that’s what I’m most proud of, as well as that we can keep growing and keep finding these solutions to touch people’s lives. People think that clothing is not important and it’s just a material thing, and it’s just something you put on to cover yourself up and it means nothing, but it actually means a lot, because it’s first thing people see of who you are. How you are seen physically and what you wear affects how you feel internally and that is all expressed in how you walk, how you talk, and how you portray yourself. So, I think it all comes together, and so what you wear can make a huge difference in who you are and I’m not saying that if you wear a certain brand you’re better – no. It means that if you feel comfortable and you feel confident in what you’re wearing and you feel good in what you’re wearing, everybody who sees you and meets you will see that. I think that we’ve been able to create a brand that allows people to feel great and feel as good as they want to feel inside on their outside. That’s what I’m most proud of, and that we can accomplish that through my art.

REDDY-BEST: What do you feel has been most successful, overall so far?

MARIALEXANDRA: Our compression tops. They are what has been most successful by far. If you don’t mind, I want to read you some comments about compression tops. Let me get those for you. This one says, “Trans-Masc guy here, this top changed my life. I refused to swim for years because of the dysphoria and not being able to feel comfortable in anything. This top doesn’t make me even think twice about swimming, and it doubles as an excellent work out binder…” and then he explains what size he got and how it fits and the whole thing. That sentence! “It changed my life…” followed by,”…I received this top in an XL black and I feel it has already changed my life. I tried it on and it felt and looked so comfortable – exactly what I wanted. I am so excited to go to the beach for the first time in years.” That’s why I do what I do. See, I get teary-eyed every time I read these! I mean there are some that I mean are just mind-blowing. This one says, “This is the first swimsuit I’ve ever felt comfortable in. I would size down between sizes to keep snug. If it’s a swimsuit it should fit incredibly comfortable. Although it’s not a binder, it’s the next best thing.” This one says, “I love this product but I’m almost fifty years cis-dyke who made a baby in her body and fed her with my boobs, I love what I can. I  love that I can look and feel like myself, pretty much like a teenage boy, while doing all my favorite summer activities like running, kayaking, biking, and swimming, I am looking forward to purchasing a “Swimmee” this summer, the Flatsea is a little heavy so it’s nice to have the shorter version on the hottest days for wearing under the rash guard.” That’s why I do what I do. That’s exactly why I do what I do. It’s not, “oh I wear the coolest thing, ” or you know, “It’s just a thing in style right now,” it’s – “this changed my life.” A piece of clothing changed somebody’s life. I swear I get teary-eyed every single time. That’s why I do what I do.

REDDY-BEST: I think a lot of people don’t understand, but all the research is that what we wear, is the first thing that people see, and is the first thing we experience in our bodies and it can make or break your experience.

MARIALEXANDRA: It’s what you are portraying.

REDDY-BEST: If it doesn’t match what you feel inside the amount of dissonance that happens is so huge for people, and it can impact self-esteem in negative ways.

MARIALEXANDRA: In very negative ways. Most of my customers write that they haven’t been swimming for years. That means that they haven’t spent time outside with their families with their loved ones, with their dog, because what they could find to put on the outside was affecting them so much internally. So yeah, fashion isn’t just what’s in vogue, it’s what can change your life to make you feel who you want to be and who you know you are internally. It’s very powerful, it’s very, very powerful.

REDDY-BEST: Was that what surprised you about starting a brand that centers or focuses around the LGBTQIA+ community?

MARIALEXANDRA: I think the only thing that really surprised me is that I knew this was the need, I knew that there was a gap, and that in this market I could help, but I never thought the impact would be this profound. When I first came up with the idea, I had heard these horror stories about how ill-fitting this top was, or how ill-fitting this bottom was, wearing two-sizes down in a sports-bra and then putting a big t-shirt on top and how uncomfortable that was. I felt like, “yeah I can help make them a little more comfortable,” but I didn’t see that I would be told “you changed my life.” So, that was a very sweet surprise, a very sweet surprise, that it wasn’t just, “now I feel comfortable,” but,  “it’s you changed my life.” I think that’s the biggest surprise, for which I’m very grateful, very grateful.

REDDY-BEST: I can’t wait to tell everyone I know!

MARIALEXANDRA: Thank you! I swear, as soon as I get emails or comments or anything, I share them with everybody around me, I mean, anybody who’s around at that moment, I’m like bawling, reading, “Guess what we just got!” and you know, “We just got another email!” I love sharing those, because this is really, really hard work and it’s hours of grueling, grueling work and it makes it all worth it. So, when you feel like a brand has made a difference in your life, tell them! We need to hear that on those days when you say, “why am I doing this?” That helps you pick up and keep going. It makes a world of difference.

REDDY-BEST: What would you describe as the biggest or smallest struggles along the way?

MARIALEXANDRA: Financials were always a struggle, because we have to make sure we can produce the right amount and have money to pay for everything. That’s always kind of a hurdle and I want to make so much more, I want to produce so many products and I moved stuff to the store, but I have to hold back. I have all these amazing ideas, and all these drawings and everything and I have to hold back and go step-by-step and I can only introduce two more products right now, because then we have to re-order from our factories everything that we sold out, because we sell out really fast on these products, so we have to constantly reorder. I’m not complaining, luckily, our orders keep getting larger and larger, but that means we have to spend a lot more money to pay for the production, so the financials are the biggest hurdle that we have. We are trying to take it slow and go step-by-step, because I don’t have any debt, and the company doesn’t have any debt and it’s self-funded. So, I’ve been very, very careful about that, everyone knows that everything has to be triple-checked and I don’t  want anything crazy going on. I guess, besides that, I guess at the very beginning we had a few hurdles. We had big hiccups with the factory that we working with for boardshorts. They didn’t send what they were supposed to send and what they did send wasn’t right. It was just a headache. It wasn’t like I was starting work just blindly – we had worked on samples, and we worked on a lot of things, and all of a sudden when production came and we started to produce, it was just ugh! A disaster. So we had to find the new factory to work with us, and took us almost a year to find somebody we could trust with what we doing, and our sizing and everything. With the rest it’s just patience and working out with the factories, working out what I want and what they can produce and what I ask them to do. I’m trying to think of what other hurdles. I’m very, very positive person, so to me, it’s like, that’s not a problem, I’ll get over it and then I don’t see it as a problem anymore and then you ask me what my issues were and I’m like, “I don’t, I don’t know, everything’s perfect,” but it’s really not. It’s just in my head that it’s perfect. I think the only think I can think of is financials. It’s very tough to keep everything and we sometimes do get emails that are like, “that’s all your offer?” I’m like, “[sigh] trust me, we’re working on it, I can’t operate any faster, calm down!” You know, because people don’t understand how expensive it is to produce all of this and to keep it in stock and to have people working to fulfill these orders. We started with 4 products, we now currently have over 400 SKUs, so we have grown a lot, which means that it’s a lot of money that we have to have to be constantly working on, and I haven’t made a dime. I don’t pay myself a salary, I put everything back in, everything that’s supposed to be my salary or whatever, everything goes back in. I’m constantly putting everything back in the order because I want this grow, I want this to be amazing. I want to hire, amazing people within the community that can really understand what we’re doing and embrace what we’re able to. Everybody can contribute to this amazing brand that stands for so much. So I think that financials are our biggest struggle.

REDDY-BEST: You’ve talked a lot about positive, amazing, feedback from folks, but do you ever get negative feedback from folks?

MARIALEXANDRA: Yes, that’s a given. You’re never going to get away from that one. Well, I think the negative feedback we have gotten has been people who keep insisting that we’re selling binders and we’re not – even though “this is not a binder,”  is plastered everywhere. So, we get a lot of people either sending it back or yelling at us on the website. We don’t take off any negative comments, we always leave them on so you know that. Some people just don’t like it, we’re not for everybody, but we have had people come – very few, luckily-  but we’ve people say, “this is the worst product in the world. It’s not a binder, it doesn’t bind!” “It’s not a binder.” I mean, I don’t know how else to explain we can’t produce a binder that stretches and moves with you. This is the closest thing we can get, but you know what, you learn from negative feedback, so what we did was, I created, what we called, a Flatsea- S which is the super-compression. We only have one of those right now and it’s only in one color right now because it’s a lot more expensive to produce, but it’s high-compression Flatsea, which is the long top which is the closed in the front and top, and it has additionally to the 3 layers of fabric to compress, it also has an extra layer of this super-duper-duper-duper tight knit mesh inside, that only covers the breast area, and it crosses in the back. So it pulls you in the back. It’s like pulling you back like a weight and this thing is like, I’ve never tried to put it on, I don’t want to try to put it on, because putting it on models and our fit model is like “Oh, God, ” is like trying to squish into something. I think that’s the first product we had to add a zipper to because it’s just like unbearable to put on, but, that product came from negative feedback, from people complaining, “this isn’t a binder it doesn’t bind.” If I can’t make you understand, “this isn’t a binder,” how do I make this better, how do I better serve you? So, I came up with this product, which there’s no way you can get closer to a binder than this, this is like hard-core, but you can still swim in it and run in it and just live in it, and lift weights in it, but it is darn close to a binder. I mean try to put it on and you’ll know it’s darn close to a binder. It is very hard to put on. So that came from negative feedback. You learn from everything, and if you take everything with a grain of salt… one thing you need to know as a designer is that you have to have very thick skin, very thick. It does affect me when I get nasty comments and at first, for like a second there, I think [gasp] “they don’t like my work,” and then I’m like, “Ugh, you know, okay wait. No, it’s not me, let’s not take it personally.” I have to kind of talk myself out of it. Let’s go into business mode: how do I solve this, what can I make better? For a second it does affect me, I cannot lie, but you learn from it, and you move on and make better products and you help you fill that little need that your customer really needs.

REDDY-BEST: Yeah, it’s amazing how some of those comments just go right to the heart.

MARIALEXANDRA: Oh my gosh, I swear some of them are just like a spear to the heart, it’s like, “Oh my God!”  I allow myself maybe a minute of going “I’m going to quit because they hate my work,” and then, “Wait, no. 30,000 other people said they love it, okay. Oh yeah, that’s right, okay, let me go read some of those. Let me go read some of the good ones.”

REDDY-BEST: Your walls are open,

MARIALEXANDRA: Yeah, I give myself like a minute there where I swear that if you see me, you see it in my face –  everybody sees it, and when we get back, everybody’s like, [inaudible whisper]. Or they know when I see it because I’ll be like… [laughs] “Okay, okay, phew! Okay I’m over it.” Yeah, but it does hit me, because it’s so personal, and I have such a passion for it that when it hits me… but you have to have really, really thick skin, where you allow yourself that 30 seconds or a minute to grieve, and then you have to get up and go. You have to say, “you know what? Fine, let me learn from that and move on, because if not, you’ll never make it as a designer.” I mean, what we do is so, you know…God, I’m looking for a particular word, it’s so easily judged and everybody has different tastes, and not everything is for everybody – nothing is for everybody. So ,that’s something that every designer is doing, in this industry, and has to really grasp and understand deeply. It is not you, personally. And take with a grain of salt and turn it into something positive too. Learn from that feedback, as negative and as harsh as it may be. Some people might say, “you know what? Your product stinks,” and that’s it! That’s the only problem with it and you’re like [distortion] you know, whatever, but it’s like, a direct comment, so take that and learn from it and turn it into something better. That’s it. We take it, breathe it in, cry a little and move on, rub it off, and there you go.

REDDY-BEST: How did you initially fund?

MARIALEXANDRA: Well initially, when I started, I had  lost my original business, my bridal business and I had put so much more into 14 as well, that I was really strapped for cash and I was doing it all myself. I was doing it 100% by myself. My aunt and my mother both saw me trying to put this together, going, “well when I can start? I have to find money,” and they both said, “you know what? We’ll give you the initial cash, you’ll just pay us back later.”  I started with their initial cash, they gave me, $2500 each. My first production order though, was over 10,000 dollars so that wasn’t even close, but since I’d pre- sold everything, I covered my initial order for products with presale and I knew it worked, once I did the presale and then, shortly after, paid them back and everything’s been self-funded since.

REDDY-BEST: Wow. smart.

MARIALEXANDRA: Yeah, you learn from your past mistakes.

REDDY-BEST: You’ve talked a lot about factories and ethics and sustainability, but anything else to add in regards to how you consider sustainability and ethics in your business model?

MARIALEXANDRA: Well, I believe in Karma. Everything that goes around, comes around. I make sure that everything is done right, that everybody’s taken care off, that everybody’s treated properly and, I try to work with factories that are very careful with what they do with the environment, but the garment industry is one of the worst industries for the environment, so we do try to keep that in mind. There’s certain things that there aren’t any solutions for currently, but we do try, for example, most of the dyes that are used for our fabrics, are biodegradable. They’re not thrown back in, they’re just water out there. One of the factories that we work with actually recycles and cleans out all the water that they use, right in their dye plants, so they’re constantly cleaning and reusing all that water so it never goes out and pollutes anything else. Some of our tank tops are made with recycled bottles, plastics bottles, that are turned into fibers, and then are turned into textiles and then out of that, some of our board shorts are made out of recycled fabric as well. So we do try as much as possible, here and there, to make sure that we make the most impact in what we can, within the constraints of the garments industry, that we can harm the earth a little less as new technology is created and we can work around these little issues that add up so quickly. Once we can do that, we’ll keep adding them on, as soon as we can create a fabric that stretches, but doesn’t pull as much, we’ll work with that. So, we’re constantly trying to find ways, to add our little grain of sand to making the world a better place.

REDDY-BEST: What about like community outreach? Anything that you all are involved in?

MARIALEXANDRA: Well, I have a meeting – and I’m telling you this before it even happens but, I have a meeting next week with one of the founders of  Aqua Foundation, which is a great foundation based here in South Florida. They’re a women’s foundation, and they work with LGBT youth and , they really do really great things. They’re known for Aqua Girl, which is like this huge party, pool party event, but they’re actually a really cool foundation, so we’re meeting with them next week and I’m going to be speaking to the founder on ways that we can help raise funds for their foundation. We’ve got tons of ideas. I don’t know what’s really going to come up this meeting, or what’s going to happen, but, I want to do fashion shows that will raise funds for the kids. They do a lot of work with homeless LGBT youth. I’d love to have a show where the kids are the ones that put the show together: they do the make-up, they do the lighting, they do the stage, they get the experience, they can put their talent to work, and then they can use that for something else later on in life. You never know what kind of job you can get or what you can do with that, but it’s like a creative outlet, but also, I want to do a Calendar, with the LGBT youth where we can do all kinds of pictures from the entire year, everybody wearing Outplay and then we can sell this calendar and just raise funds for the foundation, it would be awesome. So I have tons of ideas. I have this meeting next week, so let’s see what comes out of that. I mentioned before that we’ve been approached by several organizations throughout the country to be involved in their fundraising galas and so we’ve donated, gift certificates and products to add a little bit here and there, but I think that we’re really starting with outreach now because we’re at a point where we finally can take a little bit of breather, where we can finally have time to do that, so you’ll see a little bit more of that happening with Outplay from now on, because we’re finally getting to where we can, where we can really help.

REDDY-BEST: The point of the oral history is to really learn about the person and their background and then the brand and then the history of the brand and put this in context in fashion history as the history evolves, so is there anything that I left out, or that I didn’t ask that could be specific to Outplay and important?

MARIALEXANDRA: I don’t know. We’ve talked about everything. I’ll probably think of something two hours from now, that’s so me, but I don’t know, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, I think we have covered everything.




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21st Century Queer Fashion Brands Copyright © 2020 by Kelly L. Reddy-Best & Dana Goodin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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