Rihanna has been documenting her very long vacation with numerous pictures posted to her Instagram. And let’s just say, everyone has seen her sexiest bikini pictures where she is hosing herself down in a tiny gold leopard bikini.
Well, her bikini was made by the swimwear company JungleGurl, and we had the opportunity to talk to Natalie Golonka, the creator of the line.
Natalie’s bikinis are one-of-a-kind eco-friendly pieces that are made from vintage fabrics. Originally from Hawaii, Natalie was always around the beach but could never find the perfect bathing suit fit – so she was inspired to make her own!
Check out the exclusive interview below to learn more about the brand and how excited Natalie was when she saw Rihanna wearing her bikini.
GlobalGrind: So tell me a little about your background and how you got started.
Natalie Golonka: I’m originally from Hawaii so I have a heavy beach background and surf background. My dad is a big surfer, but I don’t really surf. I moved to Los Angeles because I was actually modeling and booking commercials. I was looking for big designers, actually mainly denim companies, fitting for them, so that’s how I learned about fit.
I got a full-time design position at AG [Adriano Goldschmied Denim.] I was actually going to do a swim line for them. So I was their fit model and then that didn’t really work out, so I started my own. How I started was, I took vintage garments, the brand is kind of known for being green because I would deconstruct mumus or dresses from the ’70s, vintage dresses, and have a sewer make bikinis out of them so it would be one of a kind. I made 10 samples and I took it to market and the top boutiques picked it up, all the top boutiques in Los Angeles. That’s just how I started and then I’ve been slowly going, it’s getting to the top stores like Barney’s, Intermix, and Scoop. I’ve just really keeping it small and just really been branding it.
Basically, to me, the brand is merging the island and the city life. So the island vibe but making it street and cool, kind of merging the two, because really my background was either a surf brand or a high end boutique, so there’s really nothing in-between. I could never find a fit that I liked so that fit is kind of an in-between, it’s not Brazilian and it’s not American, so it’s really flattering on all sized butts.
I want to embrace women as loving themselves and loving their body and it doesn’t matter if you’re tiny or you’re bigger, it’s just kind of loving what you have. I feel like that style suit shows that off. That was actually the one Rihanna had on, the Mikaela style, which is that cut. Literally, it fits a big butt and makes it look nice so if you have no butt, it makes you look like you have a butt. So that’s how it started and the company is really growing. Now I do a lower price point line that’s commonly with online stores, because the one in stores, they’re more expensive for the Barney customer. So I’ve just been slowly building it and growing it.
That’s exciting though!
Yeah it’s fun. And when you see Rihanna wearing it, you’re like woah! And those pictures were so good.
What was your reaction when you saw them?
I was at my favorite wine bar, it was 11:30 pm and my sister emailed it me so I was like screaming in the bar and she kept on sending me more. I was flipping out! She’s worn one before but she had a cover over it so you couldn’t tell. So it was just really exciting because Rihanna, to me, you can’t get any better than that! She’s such a fashion icon and she’s young, everybody looks up to her. I couldn’t have placed it on anyone more perfect. So I was really excited. It’s great because the one she had on, we have more fabric of. If she had one on that we couldn’t repeat, it would just be unfortunate. So people can actually wear what she has on.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your bikinis?
Mainly traveling and going to flea markets around the world. Wherever I am, I like to flea market stuff and all my inspiration is really drawn from vintage things, from the ’70s or the ’60s, so the prints are just timeless and amazing. Mumus from Hawaii that are really ugly and bright, but then you make it into a little bikini and it’s amazing. It transcends into something so pretty and fashionable and it’s exciting and timeless.
I like to go to Hawaii as much as possible to see around the beach. There’s something about an island person which is so relaxed and they’re so secure, because they really run around with no clothes on and that’s kind of how I was. I always wore a bikini or sarong and then when I came here and moving to New York a lot, I know a lot of woman that don’t like to wear super small things. It’s inspired to me to marry the two together.
Have you seen anybody else wear your bikinis besides Rihanna?
Miley Cyrus just had one on. Nicole Richie, I know that she just bought some. Alessandra Ambrosio, she’s worn one. Stores will tell me when celebrities buy. We gifted one to JLo so I’m just waiting for her to throw it on!
Make sure you head to JungleGurl to see more of her bikinis and check out the one Rihanna was wearing, which is actually on sale!