Go behind the scenes with founder and designer, Chelsea Bell, in a candid interview.
Chelsea Bell is as fun and bold as the prints that adorn her swimsuits and activewear. I met her at the downtown LA factory where she designs and manufactures these pieces, greeting me with a beaming smile and warm hug. But don’t let her carefree and infectious laugh fool you — Chelsea is very business-savvy. In its sixth year, Stone Fox Swim (and Stone Fox Sweat) has made its way to Free People, with new prints premiering this spring.
Chelsea grew up in Pacifica, CA and started the company in Santa Cruz in 2011. “I currently live in Redondo Beach with my dog, Gunnar. I moved to LA because I manufacture all of my swim and activewear locally, in downtown Los Angeles. Business was growing so I needed to make the move to keep up.” When she is not working, you can find probably find Chelsea hiking, going to the beach, camping, and reading. “I’m a pretty low-profile, mellow lady. I live in a happy little hippie bubble. LOL.”
How did Stone Fox Swim come to be?
Stone Fox Swim started with an out-of-hand bikini addiction and a month-long trip to Tahiti. I came back from that adventure ultimately inspired and got to work the very next day on my line! I did have a degree in business but I did not go to fashion school so I ‘faked it ’til I made it’. I literally Googled everything until I figured out what I was doing.
Have you always been interested in swimwear and activewear?
Yes! I grew up in a little beach town so swim, the ocean, etc. have always been a big part of my life. And, like most modern women, I can mostly be found in my workout clothes… even if I’m not working out that day. ;)
When did you have that a-ha moment that birthed Stone Fox Sweat?
As a business woman, I am always trying to think of things and ways to expand what I’m doing. In one of those mental meetings with myself, I thought it was the best natural progression for the brand. And, if most of my customers are like me, then they, too, live in their workout/yoga gear. It just made sense to me, the idea that I/we work out to look and feel our best, why not work out in Stone Fox Sweat to feel on top of the world in Stone Fox Swim?
If SFS had a mantra, what would it be?
Less is more.
Where do you find inspiration for new prints and designs?
Travel and nature, for sure. I’m inspired by every trip I take, even the smallest ones. I can’t help but to get creatively recharged by the new people I meet and new experiences I have.
How would you describe Stone Fox Swim to someone who is not familiar with your brand?
Wild, free, surfy, hippie — one loveness is what makes up our DNA. I would say we provide ‘classy’ (and sexy ;)) swimwear with the most personality.
How do you get past the challenges of running your own clothing company?
Nature. LOL. Sometimes I just need to go out and have a moment. It helps me stay centered and fight off the stress. It has taken years but I think I have mentally grasped the ‘it is what it is’ state of mind. This is the best way for me to not let problems/issues/challenges get the better of me.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Wake up, make bomb oatmeal, get coffee, work out, go to the factory, maybe hike/beach with pup, couch potato out with pup, read, sleep, repeat. :)
What has been your proudest moment with SFS?
I think it was the trip we took to Fiji for our 2015/16 photo shoots. It was my first big destination shoot and to be able to fly a whole crew (and not just any crew, they are all my best friends so it made it that much more epic) was a big deal for me and for the business. Being in a place to be capable of that was such a good feeling.
What is next for Stone Fox Swim and Stone Fox Sweat?
Peaceful world domination! Haha! Just continued growth and working to make a positive impact on girls all over the world. I love what I do and want to keep bringing the good vibes.
Thank you Chelsea! <3
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