Latter-day Saint Life

How One LDS Entrepreneur Went from High Fashion for Runway Models to Modest Swimsuits for Little Girls


“Little girls are our future . . . and we need to empower them now and instill them with confidence in who they are and what they can do and let them know that it’s limitless," Whitney Cheney says.

In the heart of Manhattan on the 15th floor of Parsons School of Design, Whitney Cheney gazed out the window at a giant gold hand perched atop a wax museum. The perfectly manicured fingernails and lined knuckles were simultaneously grotesque and fascinating amidst the hodgepodge of historic and modern architecture in New York City, and her own fingers itched to capture the feeling of it.

“I always have a little notebook and a pen with me because I’m always sketching something and jotting down an idea or a concept,” said Cheney.

Initially, Cheney’s clothing designs were primarily of the high fashion variety — items that were worn by runway models. But today, those sketches mainly involve swimsuits for young girls. Cheney is the business guru behind LaLa Swimwear, a startup company selling modest two-piece swimsuits for girls ages 2-13.

The change of direction was significant for Cheney, who left her fashion program early to serve a mission in Busan, Korea, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Post-mission, Cheney graduated in entrepreneurship from Utah Valley University instead of returning to fashion school — a choice she ultimately attributes to her faith in God.

Lead image from Deseret News
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