She’s definitely her father’s daughter, but Gigi Caruso says it’s her mother Tina Caruso, not her developer dad, who was the direct inspiration for Gigi C Bikinis, her year-old swimwear line that got its first physical space on Thursday at — you guessed it — The Grove. The shipping container pop-up that resides permanently across from Nordstrom will be home to Gigi C for the next few weeks.
It’s still impressive work for the 18-year-old high school senior, who is bound for the University of Southern California in the fall and intends to keep running her Los Angeles-based company while majoring in communications and taking business classes.
“I’ve never had the chance to interact face-to-face with my customers before so this is really like a dream,” said the youngest Caruso, who began developing her line at age 15, cutting up old suits and pinning them together in order to create fashionable styles that were also functional for her water-sports-heavy beach style. It was her mother, a former swimsuit model, who provided more Seventies and Eighties style inspiration with her portfolio of photographs.
Gigi C retails on Revolve.com as well as its own e-commerce site, so bricks-and-mortar retail and in-person customer conversations are new to the designer, though mobile shopping and direct messaging are not.
“I’d say I shop almost exclusively online, on my phone, mostly on Revolve, so that’s why I felt it was right to launch Gigi C there,” she said. “And most of my customer feedback comes from DMs on our Instagram feed. Social media is one of the most powerful things right now for communicating with my customers and building relationships with influencers. We respond quickly and take feedback.”
For example, the line launched with signature black-and-white tricot and Neoprene cutout suits, but based on that feedback, she’s added red and blue versions to the 36-piece collection, which retails for $75 to $270. Next up is a runway show during Miami Swim week in July to debut her spring 2019 collection. She also called out Elyse Walker and Carbon 38 as two of her most admired retail brands, so it’s not surprising that she’s working on getting Gigi C into their forthcoming Palisades Village stores.
As for her dad’s best piece of business advice, “He always said one of the best things about his job is putting his ideas on paper and seeing them come to life. I feel the same way about my business. I love working on sketches and seeing them become a collection. It brings so much joy.”