Catarina Gil: Founder Of Cru Swimwear
Hi Cat! Let's start with something simple for the readers: who are you and what do you do?
Hey! My name is Catarina Gil, I’m 23 and I was born in Lisbon. I’ve lived all my life there in a village called Sintra. At the moment I am studing and living in Milan. And simultaneously running my brand – Cru Swimwear.
Where did the idea of funding Cru Swimwear come from and what was your role in its development?
Cru Swimwear was born in Portugal, but the idea of creating it came to my mind while I was living in the Netherlands in 2015. By observing the vivid lifestyle and open approach of the country, I decided it was time for me to explore some of my passions and create something balanced in between. As I love nature, the beach and textile I started developing a concept. Together with a sustainable approach, Cru Swimwear was born. My role was and still is basically a 360º approach, going through everything related to brand development, fashion design, concept, creative direction and business administration.
The company clearly states its "support [to] the integrity of each living being while promoting a way of contact with nature in its purest state. Cru Swimwear believes in a non-mass production philosophy, therefore each product is exclusive and limited edition." Can you tell us a bit more about the philosophy behind the brand?
Cru Swimwear has 2 main dimensions – relation with the nature and relation with the body. By combining both we developed a product that sits between a luxury and a sustainable and raw approach. By the usage of natural and non-toxic materials, recycled tags, a 100% handmade process and by the awareness of how important nature is for us and our body, we want to “sell” a reality, a story and a concept, more than a tangible product. Also once handmade, each product is unique in the same way each person is. Cru Swimwear seeks to create a more personal approach with the client, and build a confident community that is self aware of its nature and power.
Is there anything that particularly inspires you in terms of marketing or production of the collections? (this could be anything: artists, movies, music, places, specific people, etc.)
It depends a lot on what’s the “theme” for that year’s collection, which usually comes from a spontaneously moment when I see something, from a talk, exhibition, place… This year, I was living in Milan, and I have to say – Italy is the most romantic country of all, from its architecture, people, smells, sounds or the smallest detail. You get inspired by everything. For this years campaign Ettore Sottsass was a huge inspiration with his work about The girls in Antibes” from 1963, and also this may sound a bit cliché because everyone is talking about it but the movie Call me by your Name by Luca Guadagnino touched me and Cru in some way.
Did you have a particular strategy to reach out to potential customers or to your Instagram following or did it all happen naturally?
Well the most important strategy for me is – being consistent and coherent. And when I say this, I am talking about visual language, concept, values… mainly everything should be in the same page. Because even if the client is not an expert in branding, the human body was born with natural senses that capture feelings – provided by shape, color and then concept. My experience on the field is not much, I’ve been learning alone with Cru and I try to do my best with this main aspect. Secondly we are in a digital era, where the main focus is Customer Experience, so I want to provide the best one online to my audience, so still trying to have everything balanced and interesting helps. And last – I think influencers also work very well. They help a lot on spreading the name of the brand and the product. I guess the key here is investing on an influencer that matches the image of the brand.
How do you spend your day (or general routine) as founder of the brand? (you can talk about pleasures and struggles of the job, if you like)
Well when you have your own project/brand/company, you never stop. So it’s a full time job, there is always something to take care of, and if not I’ll think of something else, something new to add to it. I am a person that complains but loves to work. I can’t really stop and “do nothing”. Usually I start my day by checking my emails and then I do a “to do” list. If I don’t I’ll miss half of it. My mom says my days should have 48h. For this and because I’m completely in love with him, I leave you some words from Ettore S.
Dear Fine, Thank you for your note… Yes, I’m still working like crazy… But if I don’t work, what can I do? Just watch time going by?... Too sad. I’ll look you up if I come to Turin. How are you?... You too, don’t just watch time going by.
Eat it. A big hug, Ettore.
12 June 99
Finally, where do you see Cru Swimwear going in the further future?
As the founder and owner of Cru Swimwear, I would love to see my brand growing and going worldwide. Reaching as many markets and minds as possible by offering a different approach and product. I would like that in the future Cru Swimwear could be recognized over borders by its art, values and quality, more than a product without soul. I would love also to help empowering my team of creatives through Cru in a way that I could let their names and work to be known worldwide - they are good ones.