Some of us grew up in northern New Jersey.
Others like Maira Houck grew up on the beaches of Brazil, playing in the surf, laying on the beach, and catching the rays of the good life.
Those summer days stayed with Houck and inspired her to design her own line of bikinis — which are steadily gaining notice.
At FIT she received a top award. Elle magazine featured her work. And models are now wearing her creations.
The question isn’t “where does Houck go from here?”; the question is “where will you go wearing one of Houck’s designs?”
Without further ado…
The NewsWhistle Q&A with Bikini Designer Maira Houck
Name: Maira Houck
Date of Interview: 3/29/14
Age (if you want to give it up): 35
Birthplace: An island called Santos, São Paulo, Brazil
Current town: NYC
Occupation: Design and development of products in the fashion industry; founder of Maeeda
1. What’s the funniest or saddest thing that’s happened to you this week?
Something intriguing, curious, interesting and out of the ordinary: I found a crying kitty trapped somewhere in the building basement. I heard this meow and I saw this cat. I rescued him and brought him home, it was love at first sight.
I bought him food and all the cat paraphernalia. I thought I had a new friend for life. I named him and we took selfies.
But I knew there was a chance this was someone’s kitty, so I texted the super… it was his. His name is Tiger, not even close to Johnny (that was what I intended to call him). But my super is in Jersey, so Tiger is spending the weekend with me!
2. What’s your favorite movie? And why?
Although I have always been a fan of Woody Allen’s work – people make sure to separate his work from his personal life these days – and all his movies are on the top of my list, if I have to pick the very favorite movie of all times… Gone with the Wind! I grew up watching it; it was on every holiday season. And you just have every dramatic element: war, love, money, family, everything… Plus as a little girl Scarlet impressed me so much. And I just loved the fact she made a glamorous velvet dress out of her curtains.
3. What’s the biggest risk you took in life?
It is interesting you ask that. I could say moving to the U.S., but that might have been the biggest change. It never felt risky to me. I feel like just being alive is risky, but also we have no choice. Not doing anything and just watching life can also be a risk – I wonder if one day I will look back and decide that I should had invested in having children instead of going back to fashion school in my late 20s. That was a risk. But it would have been risky either way.
4. If you could go back in time and do one thing over, what would that be?
That is an unfair question, because decisions are made based on the information you have at the time you decide. So I don’t spend time thinking about things like that. I decided the best I could, based on what I knew at the time. If it turns out to not be a great decision, I hope I can learn from it.
5. Tell us your favorite joke:
Is it believable if I tell you I can’t remember one?
6. What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
I am afraid of driving. And I want to learn how to play the piano.
7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?
Life is not always fair – do not feel sorry for yourself, because nobody will. Accept your reality and work with that. Do not compare yourself to others.
8. Who’s your favorite celebrity? And why?
I think I will pick Meryl Streep. She is classy and her work speaks for her. She comes across as generous, modest. I am not really much for celebrity hype. I never was, never collected posters or pictures of famous people when I was a teen. I was never into that kind of stuff.
I don’t want to know everything about every celebrity’s personal life. A little bit is OK, but I don’t need to see them on my Facebook, on TV, on every magazine cover when I am waiting in line at the grocery store. It gets to be too much – if there is something important to say, then say it. Otherwise just let the work speak. If it is good, it will be remembered.
9. What’s your strangest phobia or superstition?
I am not a superstitious person, but I got this habit from childhood: every time I see a pregnant woman I pull on my hair three times. It supposedly grows longer. Not that I believe it, but for some silly reason I still do it.
10. Last, but not least, is there anything you want to pitch, promote or discuss?
I would love people to visit the website: www.maeeda.com. We are small enough so we can personally answer all e-mails and we can almost customize orders, or ship from where we are… You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also you can make online purchases at http://maeeda.tictail.com.
So far the bikini line has been sold at very exclusive events, and the public is still getting to know us. Even though our reach is still very limited… we were picked up by a few models, so we are getting some attention from that.
Coming up are plans for a pop-up in La Jolla beach, and everyone is welcome to follow us on Facebook for the news: www.facebook.com/maeedawear.
11. Oh, and a bonus curve question or two (Answer as many or as a few as you like ). ..
a. Why did you decide to focus on bikinis? What sets your bikinis apart?
Well, I grew up at the beach. The beach was a main part of my life: vacation, hanging out, it was where everything happened.
That is where you go and play soccer, you play guitar. Where you meet people, where you exercise. Where you go with a friend for a beer…. that lifestyle is embedded in me.
The bikinis are very much a reflection of my experiences. They have that Brazilian sex appeal, but they also have a very urban aesthetic. We also paid special attention to the fit, inspired by the Brazilian thing, but it is adapted for an international market. They are modern – they will do very well with the jet-setter cosmopolitan crowd.
b. Who are your influences? And name five current fashion designers that you admire:
My influences are really the people, the beach, the city. The energy that comes from these both environments and the people in them, who I design for.
I love Alaia, also a Brazilian brand called Osklen is very representative of what I try to convey. Stella McCartney has a very nice line, and I also like Yoji Yamamoto and his line Y-3. To talk about someone newer, I like Prabal Gurung techno prints a lot.
c. What is the fashion scene like in Brazil? What are some trends there at the moment?
Brazil loves fashion and love international brands. But the scene is also booming. And because of its culture, there is an easiness to the fashion aesthetic there that you do not see here. The color scheme natural is brighter and happier, and the people are lighter. There is also a culture of handwork, like crochet, patchwork, fuxico, all these things that make their way into high end fashion. That is typical Brazilian, that interaction between old tradition and working class culture being absorbed by higher social classes… in music, in art, like all that movement in Naivitee paintings. Fashion is the same thing. There is something easy, rustic, simple, light and fun about Brazilian fashion aesthetic. It comes from the environment. That is what I see as the best and unique of Brazilian fashion.
d. Other than any of your creations, what is the greatest bikini of all-time?
Perhaps the first two piece – the bikini? I will vote for that. It was the right idea at the right time.
e. Would you ever wear a one-piece bathing suit? Why? Why not?
Yes, I love one piece suits. Sometimes they hide things you want to hide, or they can be classier. They also look good with a pair of summer linen pants for an off-the-beach summer occasion… they can be more comfortable if you are going to dance or exercise…. They are beautiful.