Swimsuit shopping kinda sucks.
Finding a stylish swimsuit that actually fits is a feat that’s easier said than done. Alyssa Meyer and Laura Heurung, best friends behind local swimwear line Wild Isles, set out to change that by designing inclusive, supportive, and stylish bikinis for women of all shapes and sizes—especially those with fuller busts.
City Pages chatted with Meyer about how Wild Isles is making a difference for Midwestern women and the planet.
City Pages: Tell me a bit about yourself, and how the seeds for Wild Isles were planted.
Meyer: I was with Laura, having some cocktails at a taco shop. We had just gotten back from trying on swimsuits at Target, and we were thinking, “This is crazy! There’s got to be better options.” So often the bikini or swim space is always all about the coasts or tropical areas, but we’ve got a ton of coastline here [in Minnesota]. We wear swimsuits; we want comfortable swimsuits. Being able to make suits in Minnesota and support jobs in Minnesota is important to us.
CP: How did you get started? How did you build your business?
Meyer: We both work full-time jobs, so we do this after work, on nights and weekends. [At first] we thought, “If we can’t jump in all the way, we’ll make a swimsuit crop top as a cover.” It was fine, but it got us away from what we wanted to do. So we jumped back in with both feet, put more money in, and we’re happy to say we now have three top styles and three bottom styles.
CP: Do you guys do all the designing?
Meyer: Yes, we do all the designing. It’s a great process. It’s so fun for Laura and I. We’re best friends—basically sisters—so we’re not afraid to tell each other what we think, which is something I really value in a business partner.
CP: What about things like fabric sourcing?
Meyer: Being as eco-conscious and sustainable as possible is important to us. All of our suits are made out of recycled plastic and ocean waste pulled from the Mediterranean. The fabric feels amazing: It’s buttery soft, fully compressive. It’s more expensive than the average swim fabric, but we wanted to invest in something we can stand behind.
CP: Where did you find inspiration for your designs?
Meyer: For us, there were a couple things: no halter tops, adjustability. As bustier women, we gain and lose weight in our busts, and we want to make suits that will last and grow with people. If you’re going to make this investment, it should fit you long-term.
For silhouettes, the “Dottie” is more vintage-inspired, the “Vita” is a deep V with a sexy plunge, and the “Sunny” is a sportier top, which is my favorite because I’m super athletic. With being athletic, surfing and wakesurfing, my boobs were always flying around. You’re lying on the surfboard and it hurts because the underwire is jabbing or the side boning is hitting your armpit. Those were definitely things we needed to solve.
CP: What’s next for you?
Meyer: Right now, we’re working on a one-piece. We’re trying to figure it out.
CP: You’re not available in brick-and-mortar stores right now. Do you want to be?
Meyer: We’ve been discussing it. This next year, we’re going to dabble in a couple boutiques for the summer. I love doing pop-ups because I get to meet customers and talk to them… We plan to do a lot more pop-ups in the Midwest.