THE BLOG

Women in Business Spotlight: Kathryn Johann Brings Mermaids to Life

05/15/2015 01:41 pm ET | Updated May 15, 2016

"It's been a passion of mine to help women feel as good as possible so they can enjoy their time at the beach." - Kathryn Johann

Buying a bathing suit is scary. Even the most confident, empowered, ball-busting corporate executive will admit it, if only to herself. It's scary. Because unlike lingerie, which only you and possibly a significant other will ever intimately know, or a power suit that intimidates and defines, wearing a swimsuit in public is the equivalent of letting your intimacy hang out there for all the world to see in all its vulnerable glory, and to hold your head up and fake the confidence you may not necessarily feel while you try to relax at the pool or on the beach. And though, yeah, intellectually you know nobody's really watching you or judging you or your body by what you wear, psychologically it feels like you're frozen in a huge spotlight, especially if the bathing suit on your body is just wrong, wrong, wrong, and you're uncomfortable in addition to being self-conscious. At least this is how it is for me.

And apparently, it's exactly what happened to Kathryn Johann too. As an un-waifish, normal, average-sized beautiful woman, she was constantly searching for a bathing suit she just felt comfortable in, as well as attractive, and especially sexy. A bathing suit with high quality "stronger, thicker fabric" that, as she puts it, "does miracles with sucking in any flaws." A bathing suit that had proven elusive so many times, she decided to solve this problem for herself, and she hoped for other women who were facing similar obstacles, by creating the Morada Blue swimwear line.

Islamorada, Florida, where her family keeps their vacation home, was the inspiration for the Morada Blue swimwear name, and like so many small businesses dreamed up from scratch, it started really small. Beginning with trunk shows at friends houses, and through word-of-mouth, it quickly grew into runway shows and bikini parties, eventually making its debut in swim shops in Michigan, California and Florida. It also flourishes as an online apparel store as well at moradablue.com. She plans to open her own full-scale beachwear shop within a few years.

Drawing from her formal education in art and design at Lafayette College and her studies abroad in Florence, Italy, Kathryn focuses on classic styles and slim lines with flattering accents ranging from contemporary shapes to fluttery romance for just the right touch of flair and individuality. She takes this further by selling all her suits as separates and adding cups and underwire for extra support and comfort. Her latest brainchild for this upcoming swimsuit season is her Swim Like a Mermaid campaign, where she will be doing underwater photo shoots with models that embody the spirit and joy of mermaids of the sea.

Building on the momentum the last year has brought to her business, Kathryn tells us, "I will be hosting model search events in Florida, doing runway shows and photo shoots and will be participating in a Maxim Magazine event in Miami during Swim Week [in July]." As an independent, empowered and driven woman she admits she "knew that eventually I wanted to be my own boss and start a company that I would be proud of." Working hard and enjoying what she does with gratitude for the opportunites she's had along the way, she doesn't worry about or "feel stress of the competition," seeing the work as its own reward and hoping to make even a small contribution to helping women "feel and look as good as possible."

Morada Blue Swimwear