CVO and Creator of KneeKini
Gabrielle Haywood, designer and Founder of the KneeKini swimwear line, began her journey as a fashion designer from a decision to go on a path to better health.
“The inspiration for the KneeKini came from a personal 'pain point', literally,” she says. “Because of some physical health challenges I was having, I started taking aqua therapy classes, and did not like that there seemed to be a lack of fashionable, age-appropriate swimwear. It was at that moment, I decided to create the swimsuit I desired.”
Gabrielle’s goal in designing the KneeKini was to add bold, bright color patterns in order to induce a spirit of fun, enthusiasm and vibrancy, no matter what the activity. The idea was not only to add color, functionality and style, but make the KneeKini versatile in its use — as a swimsuit, activewear and casual multi-functional wear.
“Color is important to the KneeKini brand,” she says. “Psychologists, artists and even interior designers have long believed that color can dramatically affect mood, feelings and emotions. I believe that as well. I created the KneeKini with the thought, 'I want you to look how you want to feel.'”
Gabrielle’s desire and hope is for women everywhere to not have to forfeit style, fashion, comfort, and bright colors just because they desire more modest coverage.
How We're Making Waves
“Swimming is a life-changing skill we should all know, no matter our cultural backgrounds”
It was heartbreaking for Gabrielle to discover one of the reasons Blacks did not swim, as she grew up with a great love of swimming.
Did you know?
Segregation and fear have long kept many Black Americans from learning to swim. Blacks were historically denied access to public swimming pools and beaches. As a result, swimming never became ingrained in much of their culture. According, to a recent national study conducted by the YMCA’s USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis, 64% of Black American children can not swim, and according to a report in 2012, a statistic from the CDC and Prevention stated that 70% of black children and 60% of Latino children don’t know how to swim. This means black and brown children drown about three times as often as their white counterparts. This disparity is rooted in a history of discriminatory access to swimming pools.
Swimming can quickly move from innocent summer fun to life-ending tragedy. If parents can’t swim, it is less likely that their children will learn to swim.
Virginia Dere is passionately “Making Waves” by being an advocate for adopting healthier lifestyles to include aquatic activities. We want more women taking part in aquatic events, especially women of color who have a higher rate of Diabetes, Heart Disease, and High Blood Pressure. Swimming is an excellent exercise for combating some of these health issues.
By partnering with the various organizations in the surrounding areas, we would like to advocate for more Safe Swim Lessons, Sponsor Lifeguard training, and introduce the “Dip Your Toe” movement for more women to get involved in becoming healthier through aquatic activities, especially women of color.