This piece was originally published on risemiaminews.com on July 23, 2015.
By Marcus Frias
It’s summertime and we all know what that means. It’s that time when the hottest bods strut down South Beach wearing the sexiest and spiciest swimwear pieces of the year.
For a while, all the rave has been about Wildfox, Mikoh, and San Lorenzo Bikinis, but now there’s a new girl on the block with a swimwear line that’s bold, innovative, and exciting.
Isabella Soto and her killer line—Kokoa Swim.
Soto says that she’s always had an interest in fashion although it wasn’t always something that she expressed through her clothing.
“It was something I was around constantly,” Soto said. “My mother graduated AI with a degree in fashion design and I’d constantly watch her create amazing projects.”
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But that all changed during her sophomore year at Miami Sunset Senior High School when she decided to stop watching and start doing.
“As a sophomore in high school I would sew hair bows by hand and sell them to friends for $3,” Soto said. “My senior year I launched a fashion blog and another small business. I’d purchase thrifted jeans and distress them, dye them all sorts of colors, and stud them. I would also sell these to classmates.”
With Kokoa Swim still far in the future, Soto became the fashion editor of the school’s yearbook. Fashion became more than an interest—Soto’s hard work to make a name for herself while she was still so young was both admirable and astonishing.
One of Soto’s high school teachers, Natalie Gutierrez says that Soto’s success doesn’t surprise her at all.
“Ever since I’ve known her she’s had high expectations of what she wanted to be and what she wanted to do with her life,” Gutierrez told Rise Miami News. “She’s a go-getter with a lot of passion and dedication. It is that attitude that has helped her achieve this dream of hers at such a young age.”
Still, her hardworking and ambitious attitude remains.
“This has all been such a huge learning process,” Soto said. “I started this business entirely from scratch and have made so many mistakes along the way.”
Those mistakes, though, simply motivate the youthful 20 year old to work harder.
Soto dedicates an average of 30 hours a week to the growing line—but says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I wake up and do this until I have to head out to work. Sometimes I’ll come home from work and continue,” Soto said. “It’s not a burden. I love doing this.”
In those 30 hours Soto designs new collections, shops for fabric, handles social media accounts for Kokoa Swim, and networks for opportunities to showcase her work.
Despite participating in big events like Swim Miami Fashion Week Kokoa Swim’s success is mostly due to its internet presence.
“I am eternally thankful for social media. It’s been a huge contributor to Kokoa’s growth. Instagram, especially, has helped me network and build a following of amazing people,” Soto said. “Through social media, I was given the opportunity of participating in my first Swim Week event at the Broken Shaker. I met other local brands that are doing the same. It was amazing to see brands I’ve been following online, in action. “
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Kokoa Swim has over 8,000 Instagram followers and that number grows everyday. Models like Harley Gusman and Mahila Snyder have all hopped on the Kokoa wagon and have stepped in front of the camera to model for the swimwear line.
Soto loves the partnership with these up and coming models.
“Like myself, these girls are working hard to build a name in the industry and it’s fascinating that our work benefits each other,” Soto said.
Indeed, a name is being built.
Kokoa Swim, a line that was built on impulse—surely has consumers buying on impulse, too.
A sketchbook dream that has turned into an incredible reality, but Isabella Soto won’t stop here. She hopes to have her line available for purchase at local stores within the next year.
With all of this success tucked under her belt at the young age of 20, it is safe to say that Isabella Soto was not fashionably late, but instead fashionably focused and early to the scene.