Marissa Barlow, a 19-year-old fashion designer from Logan, Utah, recently became the youngest designer to make it as a top 12 finalist in the 2018 Emerging Designer Bootcamp leading up to Phoenix Fashion Week, where one of the finalists will be named "Lifestyle Designer of the Year."
Barlow will reveal her Spring 2019 collection at Phoenix Fashion Week's premier showcase on October 18 at Talking Stick Resort, where she will compete with the 12 other designers to become the "Lifestyle Designer of the Year" and win the $10,000 prize package made up of goods designed to help these new brands succeed.
"I was so impressed by the vision and work ethic of this young designer, Marissa Barlow from Nani Swimwear, that I felt she would be a great addition to our challenging Emerging Designer Bootcamp," says Brian Hill, Executive Director of Phoenix Fashion Week.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Barlow told LDS Living that she wants to "create more modest swimwear that women don't have to sacrifice style for."
Barlow's passion for fashion started when she was a little girl designing outfits for her American Girl doll. Now as a clothing designer, she plans to keep pursuing design along with photography and traveling.
As her Nani Swimwear brand has continued to grow, Barlow says, "My faith and values have definitely been tested, but my overall goal as a designer has always stayed the same: creating more modest swimwear that women don't have to sacrifice style for."
She continues, "I just want all young girls to know that they don't have to compromise their standards to look good or fit in. The standards of the world are changing, but thankfully God's will always stay the same!"
Though Barlow is excited about the future of her brand, there are many challenges that come with working in fashion, and she believes God has had a hand in it all. While volunteering in the Philippines over the summer, Barlow recalls a stressful situation when they lost a key employee. Miraculously, however, they were able to find someone to fill the available position within a few weeks and make a smooth transition. She recalls that though she first felt that her efforts to fast and pray for help with her business had failed, she later realized, "It was a humbling experience to remind me that God has a plan for everyone, and faith in His plan includes faith in His timing."
According to the Nani Swimwear website, the brand creates high-quality swimwear that is made for movement and designed to be fashionable. The word Nani is a Hawaiian word for "beautiful," which "empowers women to live a nani (beautiful) life by seeking adventure, being kind, and striving to give back."