Originally from a small town in Kazakhstan, Miss Cosmopolita Transformable Bikini Brand founder Inna Popova is showing us that all we need is a bikini that allows us to wear a new style which matches our mood every day.
“You need swimwear that makes you feel adventurous and joyful. Something that reflects your sense of exploration and desire to know more. A kind of talisman that helps you dream, travel and transform.”
With a background is in geology, Inna has always been a “creative kind,” exploring her passion for drawing, sewing, crafting and making dresses for herself and her little sister for special occasions.
“I also appreciate the power of confidence a piece of clothing can give you. This brand has been inspired by women and is for women that build their own lives, transform it in a way they want.”
At 35, Inna quit her original geology job to pursue her passion and having recently moved to Spain to explore Europe, has transformed herself through travel.Inna is building the Miss Cosmopolita brand to be sustainable by using recycled materials where possible and only partnering up with companies that sustain ethical production and share her own values. Now, devoted to serving a community of women who are open-minded with a widened view on their horizon, we find out why Inna felt it was important to initially develop a sustainable fashion brand.
Hey Inna, can you introduce yourself to us?
I am a fashion designer and a founder of Miss Cosmopolita Sustainable Swimwear brand. I’ve created a Bikini-transformer that is sustainable and so much fun to play with. To everyone’s surprise, my background is in Mining. I worked my way up in the industry. But one day, at 35 y.o., I decided to leave my Director’s chair and start it over again. I believe that a woman can accomplish whatever she dreams of, as long as she is open-minded and ready for transformations!
DREAM.TRAVEL.TRANSFORM. – Miss Cosmopolita’s slogan. We are here to inspire women to dream more, explore more and be open to transformations!
I am about to introduce my brand and the product to the broader audience, and this interview invitation has come at the right time. Thank you so much for this opportunity!
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now as the founder of Miss Cosmopolita?
I’ve always known that one day I would have a business of my own. This thought has always been in the back of my mind. I am a geologist by background, and I was working on a mine site in Australia when the urgency around this subject appeared. Lots of geologist jobs were being made redundant, and I was experiencing much stress. I wanted to be in control of the situation; this was when I decided to learn more about business. I changed jobs and was developing a software business for a New Zealand (NZ) company in Russia and Kazakhstan. It took my partner and me three years to grow the NZ software brand in that region. At that point, we were sure that we could develop and build something of our own. The idea of the Bikini-transformer came to me while travelling through Spain 2 years ago. We came up with a plan. Soon quit our jobs, sold the house in the UK and decided to work on our brand. It took us two years to get to where we are now: ready to launch our sustainable swimwear brand on Kickstarter!
What was the start-up process for you like and how did you successfully launch Miss Cosmopolita into the market?
The start-up process has been like a roller-coaster! There were so many downs and a very few ups during the journey. When I quit my job, I thought that I knew what I was doing. I was able to grow someone else’s business. Why couldn’t I do it with my own? However, there is one thing to promote something that has been already developed into a solid product and had a team behind it, and it is a complete opposite when it comes to a start-up. New idea. New brand. No product. No team. Just the two of us (my husband and I) and the concept.
We had to learn a new industry and business skills too. So, there were trial and error. Sometimes we needed to drop everything and start fresh. Originally the Transformation idea was created for lingerie. However, then I quickly realised that I do not relate. I don’t know lingerie. I don’t understand it. I wear it, but that is about it. When we shifted the transformation idea onto the bikini, I knew that it was it! I cannot live without a beach nearby; I am at the beach most of my time. Being next to water and out in the sun gives me energy and makes me happy.
To test the concept, we created the first collection and produced a small batch last year. It was a success: the bikinis were sold out. Now we are ready to take this product to a broader audience via the crowdfunding platform. The launch date is planned for July 2019.
Can you tell us about the brand DNA and ethos behind Miss Cosmopolita?
The brand DNA comes from my values, dreams, and desires. Miss Cosmopolita is a woman that belongs to the world. She is open-minded, and she is eager to explore our beautiful Planet. She grows through her travels, just like I did.
I genuinely believe that all your dreams will come true if you dream it. Nothing is impossible and if you really want to do something or be someone – you can do it! You just need to visualise it. Look at me – I am now a fashion designer, am I not? When I was a kid I told my mom that I would live in America and I will have an American husband! Little did I know! I did get married in the States! He is Russian though
Originally I am from Kazakhstan. I was raised in a Russian family. I lived in Russia, then the United States, the UK a couple of times, Australia and now I live in Spain. And I haven’t settled yet. I love the experience of getting to know other cultures. It gives me different perspectives on the world. I believe that you transform with every country you travel to or live in. It is one thing to read about it and imagine it, and it is a different thing to experience it yourself. I have transformed. When people talk about the environment, poverty, and pollution in Asia, for example, – I know it. I saw it. I felt it!
Why did you feel it was important to develop a sustainable fashion brand? Was it the USP of the brand, and what has been the overall impact on Miss Cosmopolita?
It is the DNA of the brand and the USP too. It was never a question. I have seen the ocean pollution, the beaches full of plastic and waste in Asia. Our planet suffers from our human activities. Birds, animals, fish die because of plastic pollution. It amazes me that in our modern age of technology, internet, and social media, we do not talk more about it. A few conversations are happening around this subject, but masses don’t hear it. It is happening because they have not seen it with their own eyes. Consumerism has overgrown. 3 dollar clothes are out there in the shops, and you can buy new trendy and cheap garments every week. This tendency is scary! It is also very irresponsible, but people are just not aware. There is a Slow Fashion movement growing as we speak, I just happened to be in the trend.
Why generate more waste when you can recycle waste around us to produce something new. It is incredibly expensive to do so, and this has been the overall impact on my young business. Since the demand for recycled fabrics is not high enough yet, the cost is high. I don’t want to produce large volumes, and this sets the hight price. Those are all the reasons why my product cannot be cheap. It is always a battle. I need to educate my customers on why it is expensive.
Where can you see yourself within the next five years and what plans do you have in place to expand and further develop the growth of Miss Cosmopolita?
My ultimate goal for the business is to bring awareness around sustainability and slow fashion into the masses through the fun concept – a bikini transformer. The multi-wear set doesn’t take much space in a travel bag, helps to save money, the planet and more importantly, is fun to play with! I hope that the aspect of having fun and changing looks on the go will attract girls, that are not aware yet. I am hoping to be a part of the movement that influenced the Slow Fashion revolution.
In 5 years I see myself as part of a young and inspiring team of creatives; by the team, I mean customers too! My goal is to revolutionise the way we design clothes, choose colours and styles. I want Miss Cosmopolita to be a people’s brand, where they get to create and influence the designs and colours too. I also see my business going towards wasteless production. We will be looking for ways to make garments to order and will introduce subscription-based services!
What outlets do you use to promote Miss Cosmopolita?
Instagram and other social media channels played an essential part in Miss Cosmopolita brand promotion. I started working on my Instagram even before the brand was born. I met a lot of like-minded people there, and they became my Insta-friends. Social media has already revolutionised the way we do business, and it is just going to keep affecting it.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
Converting an idea from a spark in my brain into a reality. When people get it and share my vision, it is truly amazing! I also love inspiring people, building teams and help people to accomplish their goals! I can not wait to have a bigger team here at Miss Cosmopolita!
What challenges have you seen to have been presented during the growth of Miss Cosmopolita?
The main challenges were my own doubts about myself and the business. Entrepreneurs say it is normal for a start-up founder. I didn’t know that! People close to me, i.e. family and friends, sometimes doubt me and don’t see my idea the way I see it. Hence, the lack of support and like-minded people has also been a challenge. They don’t see you building your own empire; they are just waiting for you to go back to a “normal” secure job!
How do you define your own success?
My own success is the harmony and balance within. I have been looking for this feeling for my whole life. Finally, now I am starting to feel at peace with myself because I am doing something I am really passionate about.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
It means to be yourself and to be in harmony. Live your own life. Feel what you want and not what society tells you to do or feel. It means that you can do whatever you want! You can rock the world and make it better!
Finally, what are you working on throughout 2019?
2019 is the year when we decided to take our product to a broader audience through a crowdfunding campaign. Since we are all about eliminating waste, we would like to generate the interest around this product first and then produce it. The campaign will be launched in July and it will define how big we are going to go with our production this year. We are also working on a partnership with a sustainable manufacturer in Bali. By the time the campaign is launched, we will have everything ready. Lots more needs to be done on promotions and finding retailer partnerships all around the world.