Marissa Barlow, a 19-year-old fashion designer from Logan, Utah, recently participated in the Emerging Designer Bootcamp leading up to Phoenix Fashion Week. All of Barlow's hard work paid off when she was named Phoenix Fashion Week's "Designer of the Year" on October 20, 2018.
Barlow revealed her Spring 2019 collection at Phoenix Fashion Week's premier showcase on October 18 and competed with 14 other designers to become the "Lifestyle Designer of the Year." She won the $10,000 prize package made up of goods designed to help the new brand succeed.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be a fashion designer," Barlow said. "I"m so grateful for the opportunity and couldn't be more stoked to be Designer of the Year!"
"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 stays 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."