BC: When you were starting out, were you ever told “No?” How did you handle it?
PB: I was told “No” a lot. Mostly by men who don’t understand what a huge issue it is for women to find a swimsuit that fits properly. They also didn’t understand that when a woman has breast surgery, she pretty much has to get rid of all of her bras and swimsuits.
BC: How did you feel when you decided to do this for a living?
PB: Excited, scared, energized, exhausted; all of those at the beginning and still today.
BC: What is the design process like? What are the steps from sketch to finished product?
PB: I work with a pattern maker that has a lot of experience in high-end swimwear and I walk her through the details of the suits and my sketches. She usually tells me it can’t be done (another no!).
We usually do a fitting on a professional fit model after the revised prototype has been sewn. Around this time I also have the suits swim tested by a really sweet woman, Judy, who’s a breast cancer survivor. I meet up with her at her local pool. There she puts her swim forms in the suits and takes them out for a test in the pool.
I’ve gotten pretty good at understanding what works, but I still want to test everything. I usually swim in the suits myself to see what I think about the fit and performance too.
Then we go back to the factory and do a final fitting on the fit model.
BC: When you’re designing a suit, if you get stuck, what do you do to de-stress?
PB: My office is a block from Gramercy Park. Quite often I will take a walk around the perimeter of the park and breathe in the smell of the scented Boxwood. I love the smell and it reminds me of my first trip to Italy.
Where Patricia’s first swimsuit is now and more up next