11 Aug - Meet Our Friend: Isabella Soto
Meet Freehand Friend and Kokoa founder, Isabella Soto! Born and raised in Miami, the 21-year-old currently juggles both her swimwear line and attends FIU. Isabella has always had an interest in creating swimwear, so when the opportunity was presented to her last winter, she dived straight into the game and launched Kokoa on a whim in December 2014. Isabella designs all of her pieces and each suit is made by hand in Colombia. So what’s next for Kokoa founder? She’s currently working on her fourth collection for fall and is hoping to have her new styles released by mid-September.
Freehand: You started Kokoa Swim when you were just 19. What inspired you to get started so early?
Isabella Soto: I was completing my second year of college and found myself completely unhappy with what I was doing on a day-to-day basis. I can’t tell you exactly what led me to launch my own swimwear brand, but it was an idea I brought to life overnight in hopes of trying something new out. I haven’t stopped working on it since.
FH: What (or who) are your style inspirations?
IS: I like simplicity. I like black and earthy tones. I love wearing rings and am most comfortable in sneakers.
FH: Why “Kokoa”?
IS: Picking a name for my brand was probably one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever experienced. I felt this pressure to have the perfect name, as it’d be one that stuck with me forever. The brand was completely nameless for weeks before I gave in and asked my lovely mother to pick anything. I was exhausted and overwhelmed from brain storming for days straight. Kokoa was short, catchy, and simple.
FH: When you’re not running your business, what else keeps you busy?
IS: If I’m not working on my bikinis, I’m still working! I bartend and I serve. When I’m not working, I’m most likely home listening to music or reading an awesome book.
FH: What plans do you have in store for Kokoa?
IS: I really should have some sort of goal in mind, but I’m winging it for now. I’m taking things as they come and hoping for the best. I have faith that the right opportunities will present themselves when the time is right. For now, I’ll just continue working.
FH: You can’t start the day without… Name 3 things. Go!
IS: 2 cups of black coffee, obnoxiously loud music, and checking my emails!
FH: What are 5 things on your bucket list?
1. Take my mom to Bali before I turn 30
2. Experience the Aurora Borealis in Alaska
3. Hang out with Anthony Kiedis for one day and hope to god he doesn’t get bored
4. Do as much charity work as I possibly can around the world
5. Open a Kokoa showroom.
FH: What’s one thing everyone should experience when visiting the 305?
IS: The beach and Downtown Miami!
FH: If you could hang at the Broken Shaker with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
IS: Sophia Amoruso, CEO of Nasty Gal and my biggest inspiration. I think she’d love it.
FH: What piece of advice do you have for aspiring, young entrepreneurs like yourself?
IS: Same advice I give myself- to be persistent and keep working.