Cass Kellogg is the Harley Davidson of bikinis. Cass’s company, Minimale Animale, produces everything from leather and stud bikinis that wouldn’t look out of place in Mad Max, all the way to classy one-pieces best suited for poolside mimosas. What ties these designs together, however, is Cass’s vision of the American woman and her power.
Cass orchestrates her own ad campaigns with an artistic eye, and has quite the aesthetic fetish for motorcycles. We recently caught up with Cass to get her word on the high-stakes process of designing swimwear, the bullshit every entrepreneur must wade through, and the photo shoots that captured her imagination.
Hey Cass. To start, can you tell us about starting Minimale Animale? What was that first year of running the business like?
I had to get the name dialed in and figure what exactly it was going to be. There was a lot of the not fun legal stuff. There were a lot of grueling fittings and a crazy learning curve. I asked my friends in fashion a lot of questions and just troubleshooted my way to figuring it all out.
What drove you to soldier on and bring Minimale Animale to life?
I’ve always wanted to do something a little bit different. I want to be sure that I represent a missing market. We’re not scared to do cuts that maybe not everyone can wear.
What are some of the challenges particular to designing swimwear?
Swimwear is a lot less forgiving, ‘cause a quarter of an inch, a half an inch can make such a difference in a fit. Probably the most important thing to a girl wearing a swimsuit is how it fits, and therefore how she feels in it.
What other more general challenges have you faced?
Just keeping at the top of my game as best I can and getting the fit right on all of the garments is a huge challenge. I have really high expectations for every single style and I’m really picky about our quality. We’re a high end brand, so we should be provide a high end, high quality garment. Also, having China rip off some of our big styles has been really challenging to accept or do anything about.
What were you doing before Minimale Animale?
I was a stylist working for various brands. So I had an eye for the composition of a photo, set design, how to set up the model and scene, and stylize the whole image.
On that note, Minimale Animale seems to define itself by the photography in its ad campaigns-do you have favorite photos, or even a favorite campaign?
I would say my most recent campaign-spring ‘16-and my first season are probably my favorites. They’re so truly the brand. They’re so simple and clean and to the point. They aren’t these pretty landscaped girls frolicking in the ocean. They’re very in your face, which I like. They’re very bold and I’m attracted to bold things.
Do any other cool shoots come to mind?
One of my other favorites is from our summer shoot from last year, 2015. We had a ‘78 gold TransAm brought out on a flatbed truck in the middle of the desert and dropped off. I just got to create some dream shots. I shot a gorgeous model incredible power pose, straddling the car in this and wearing only this American flag bikini bottom only. She’s tan and gorgeous and it’s just the epitome of an American power woman and one of my favorites of all time. So definitely one for the books, I’d love to frame it and put it in my house.
What milestones has Minimale Animale met?
We didn’t do the milestone thing, only whispered about it. But our milestones would be getting a retail store and doing runway shows at fashion week in Miami. That was probably the funnest event I’ve done in my entire life. It was a total thrill-pretty much like riding a rollercoaster, but for a little bit longer than five minutes.
Do you see Minimale Animale staying in the world of swim and summertime?
That will always be our core, but it’s my dream for Minimal Animal to become a lifestyle brand. But there are a lot of things I want to do, plenty of ideas that I’ve had for a long time. I’m just waiting for the right timing, when I feel like our customers, our fans, our stores will be ready to take them on. I’ll wait to discuss them deeply until I’m ready to pull the trigger on them.
Sounds good, Cass. Best of luck with the bikinis.