Calavera Swimwear – Hurricane Leslie Tested

Glam top & Hipster bottoms in black c/o Calavera Swim

Last weekend I came home to an amazing gift from Calavera Swimwear, a line started by designer/founder, Anna Jerstrom. Anna’s story is very inspiring for anyone looking to break away from their 9-5, and create a business focused on a love of surfing. 

Born in Stockholm, Sweden and groomed for the boardrooms of the rigorous international finance grind at the University of London and Columbia University in New York City, Anna is no stranger to intensity. “It’s like finding the love of your life,” she said after returning from her first surf trip to Costa Rica, and she was hooked. So, she quit her job, took the leap to pursue the life she loved on the water, and moved to Costa Rica to master the sport of surfing. 


Annaof Calavera Swimwear

Using her sewing machine to create the initial prototypes, she combined her business expertise and innovative designs to create a bikini worthy of a Bond girl with performance befitting a champion. 

Anna reached out to me to share her story, and gifted me a suit to test out for myself. That opportunity came during the hurricane swell that pulsed all over the east coast courtesy of Hurricane Leslie on September 10th in Long Beach, NY. Being no stranger to surfing hurricane swells (I learned to surf during a tropical storm swell when I was in college in Miami, FL.), I knew I was in store for a fair amount of duck-diving and rough conditions, perfect conditions to see how well this suit designed for surfing really help up.  

The first thing I noticed about the suit when I put it on is the snug fit. The bottoms have a draw string in the inside of the suit which prevents it from sliding down/off when you are duck-diving or are coming up from the water. It’s very similar tie you will find in running shorts or competitive male swim trunks. The Glam Top, which I had, has ties on the back which you can customize to be as tight or loose as you would like. The crossed back design really keeps the top on and is very comfortable too.  

Here I come Leslie! Glam top c/o Calaver

With the suit on, I waxed my board and headed out to surf. Immediately I was confronted with a huge wave which I had to duck-dive. To be honest, the conditions were so rough, that at that point I didn’t even think about the suit, and instead focused all my energy on paddling out past the break and not being thrown into the jetty. After what seemed to be a five minute battle, I made it to the line-up, took a deep breath, and assessed the suit situation. To my surprise everything was in place! The suit held up so well that there was no adjusting needed which is great when you are the only woman in a hurricane swell line-up. 

I highly recommend Calavera to any female surfer looking for a suit that will stay on in extremely rough conditions or for your normal surf session. These suits really do what they are designed to do and it’s comforting to know you can rip as hard as you like without giving anyone a free show. Check out their main site for several styles options and purchase one today. 

I also took the opportunity to ask Anna a few questions about Calavera. I wanted to find out more about her inspiration and the future of Calavera Swimwear.

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What was the most difficult part of starting Calavera?

There really isn’t any one thing about starting a company from scratch that is difficult; every step of the way is a struggle. However, the fact that the process is hard is what makes it worth doing, especially when pursuing your passion!

What was the “Ah ha!” moment where you realized you wanted to create your own line of surf-friendly bikinis?
Every time I surfaced from surfing a wave or from a duck-dive! Although it was more like an, “Uhm…where did my bikini go…” moment! I was so frustrated with the construction and lack of performance focus of the swimwear available that I decided there must be a better way—and that’s how Calavera was born!

What are your major style icons or trends that influence your designs?
I have always loved Fashion. I have a very personal style and still make many of my own clothes and I love bargain hunting at thrift stores. I like to combine the unexpected, and that is what has allowed me to develop Calavera’s suits in a way that combines a bit of sassiness with functional and unique solutions that keeps them in place.

What is your creative process?
Usually I will see something that inspires me and will start sketching. There are several Calavera designs that started out on a napkin! The Calavera girls also inspire me and have a lot of input in the final product.

Are you experimenting with any new fabrics or cuts for future Calavera pieces?
We are always experimenting with new cuts and fabrics. Right now we are trying to figure out how to use anti-slip materials in some new crossover pieces we are developing for 2013. These crossover suits can be worn while surfing, stand-up paddling, running, cycling, etc. Calavera has no plans to stop at swimwear!

Where do you see Calavera in five years?
I see us as a staple item in every woman’s wardrobe whether she is a pro surfer of likes to power walk on the beach, a performance brand for the fearless feminine woman! When you buy a Calavera suit you are getting a solution, not a product. You’ll join a kinship of like-minded women who are fighting hard to excel at their passion, whatever it may be. There are millions of women out there training just as hard, and performing just as well as their male counterparts, and Calavera is here to validate their efforts. As our tag line goes – “No balls required!”

What’s in your quiver?
In Costa Rica, I have the privilege of having my own local shaper, and he makes me beautiful yellow boards with skulls around the rails and writes ”Para Anna Calavera” on the back. Actually, that is the story of how the name “Calavera” came to be—it means “skull” in Spanish!

Thank you so much Anna for the opportunity to test out an amazing swimsuit and for the interview. We are so excited to see what is coming next. Please visit the Calavera Swimwear site to purchase your own suit and to find out more about Anna’s story.


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