M A N T A, named.
Our favorite sea creature.
It was exactly five years ago today. I was at the beach, alone, letting my thoughts free to rush around my brain and in hopes of figuring out my life. I had just changed everything: newly divorced, relocated from Portland, Oregon to West Palm Beach, FL... living on my own for the first time, taking care of a small black kitten - trying to learn and forgive and understand what happiness felt like. Spending time at the beach felt so exotic. The waters of South Florida were warm and welcoming, very unlike the aggressive and hypothermic waves that I had known in the Pacific Northwest. I could swim, float, and snorkel here. I could surf leisurely, practically nap on the board.
Swimming alone was a bit frightening, still. Were there sharks? Most likely not. Will I get taken out by a rip current? No, Janeane. I could see other swimmers scattered in the waves, but I was decidedly alone. I swam out. I let waves raise and lower my body, a sensation that I would later that night fall asleep feeling. After a few moments, I sensed something near. I could not see anything- there was no visual indication that anything was in my vicinity. But, something was there, and it was massive. I felt it. Too afraid to look under water, I swam back to the shore and looked back to the place where my body had been bobbing- a large black shadow, gliding slowly across the white sand bottom. It was a Manta Ray, about 5 feet across, soaring in it's liquid sky. At that moment, a long series of unidentified ideas became very clear to me: I would start a project to address a large piece of the swimwear market that was missing, and I would call it Manta.
You see, every attempt I made at finding a suit that appealed to my aesthetic was failed- It seemed impossible to find a well-designed suit that leaned towards minimalism, in a neutral shade or just black. Beautiful and eternal BLACK. Stores were overflowing with pink, blue, floral, girly, flirty, teeny tiny super sexy styles- but nothing for ME. I knew that I wasn't alone here, that there were girls in New York and Los Angeles and Paris and London who cared about the same design details that I did. I looked through my sketchbooks- I had been sketching this collection for quite awhile, without it resonating in my mind as something that I could actually DO. It took me a few more years, but eventually MANTA began to take shape.
Flash forward, 3 1/2 years: It's February of 2015, I am in my apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where I live with my now-husband. I am 3 months pregnant, on the phone for the first time with what would become my wonderful factory, talking about the sampling process. My husband and I have decided to move to Florida to have the baby and be near family. My life is about to change entirely again. Leaving the city that I have fallen in love with, starting a family, quitting my job as a women's wear designer, and jumping full force into making MANTA the go-to brand for the Swim Noir lifestyle. Starting with a small debut collection, it is growing into a highly curated, full fledged swim/street/beach brand.
My son just had is first birthday. The MANTA constellation is forming, and I am still being guided by the sea waves. It's a sensation that can still feel any moment of the day, and one that I fall asleep to at night.