Chrissy McCurdy, Alia Yahia-Bosworth and Joyann King Michael
Every summer, buying a swimsuit that is actually flattering seems like a challenging (and sometimes impossible!) task. That’s why we are thrilled to share our latest find, Stylest, a swimsuit line that is completely different than any others you’ll find in stores. Launched by three Moms with backgrounds in fashion, it consists of body-boosting pieces that can be worn underneath your suit (as waterproof lingerie!) or on their own.
For this week’s Meet a Mom interview, we asked the three Moms behind Stylest, Alia Yahia-Bosworth, Joyann King Michael and Chrissy McCurdy, to share the story of how they came together to create the unicorn of swimwear and coverups, that has Moms across the country feeling fabulous on the beach, in the baby pool and everywhere else the summer takes them.
Can you please tell us a bit more about yourselves?
Alia Yahia-Bosworth: After building my fashion career and living in NYC for 17 years, I met my husband and moved to Simsbury, CT with him and my two stepsons, James (now 22) and Jack (now 19) for two years. COVID’s silver lining for us was being able to relocate south to Charleston, SC 18 months ago for weather (and for the boys, golf!) and for me more space and a great community to raise our new baby girl, Lillian Gray, (six months old). We live on Daniel Island, scoot around on golf carts and are within walking distance to two golf courses, tennis, pickleball, restaurants, three pools, a country club. I joke it’s like the best of a retirement community without the retirees!
Joyann King Michael: After living in NYC for almost a decade and working my way up in women’s magazines, I met my husband on a blind date set-up by designer Lela Rose. I was honestly about to rethink city life and the fashion magazine hustle and then a work event ended up being a life-changing event! My husband escaped the city on the weekends in an upstate New York hamlet called Millbrook. It was sort of a deal-breaker if I didn’t love it—but luckily I did! We moved up here fulltime during COVID looking for a simpler set-up with our then 18-month-old daughter, Sienna. She is now about to turn 4 and we love living surrounded by nature and being deeply involved in the family-friendly community. You can’t go to the local diner without knowing people at every single table! I do look forward to my weekly city trip with Chrissy for fittings, though. We get our sushi, shopping, and beauty treatment fixes, then back to the country!
Chrissy McCurdy: After living in NYC for 15 years, my husband and I decided to move permanently to our weekend house in Millbrook, NY. We have two very busy, lively boys and the slower paced country life was more suitable for their interests and personalities. I may have left NYC kicking and screaming but now see my life as exactly where I need to be. I worked in the fashion industry for years before “retiring” to raise my children. Now that my boys are 8 (James) and 10 (Thomas) and settled comfortably into their new lives, I was seeking more for myself.
Alia Yahia-Bosworth and her family
Can you please share a bit more about your careers pre-Stylest?
Alia: I started my career in editorial at Vanity Fair as a fashion assistant and worked in magazines as an editor and stylist for nine years. Joyann and I actually met at ELLE Magazine in our mid 20’s. We had desks facing each other and have been friends ever since! I left to go to the retail fashion side at Ann Taylor/LOFT where I spent seven years as Trend Director and then Chief Style Director overseeing fashion direction/styling and marketing activations. It’s here I learned the business of fashion and how to identify what the customer truly values in product and your brand to ensure you deliver across everything your brand does. I then launched CBS’s first style podcast and built a consultancy advising fashion brands on disruptive marketing, creative strategy and style direction working with brands like Tiffany&Co., Swarovski, HSN and more. My experience became a go-to for celebrities and notable influencers looking for an industry and business expert to build their fashion brands from the ground up, most recently I’ve launched brands for Rachael Ray and Dany Garcia / GSTQ.
Joyann: I started my career in the fashion closets of SELF and Glamour assisting the fashion directors when magazines were black cars and fancy lunches. The digital age was creeping in and I was recruited to run the website for the teen version of Elle, ElleGirl. I took a huge risk at the time leaving the cache of print, but it turned out to be a great move (well, except ElleGirl.com folded 6 months into the gig!). But it was worth the blunder because I met Alia while at Elle, we shared a desk in a windowless closet! From there I got really deep into digital, but kept my finger on the fashion pulse. I was the Fashion News Editor at InStyle.com when I got a last minute call from Glenda Baily at Harper’s Bazaar to come meet her—I ran to Saks for a black dress and boots! I landed the job and spent the next decade taking the 160 year old brand online overseeing the website, social, video, apps, you name it. When I left we were a team of 30 (and started as one). It was a dream job and I have so many amazing memories of fashion shows in Paris and covering the red carpet. I recently did some business consultation for Town & Country and Elle Decor before turning my focus full-time to STYLEST, but I am and always will be an editor at heart!
Chrissy: I started my fashion career in stores. During college, I worked at the Chestnut Hill Mall in Massachusetts at the Coach store and absolutely fell in love. The combination of surrounding myself with product, while talking to a myriad of people married two passions for me. Post grad, I continued my love affair with stores and worked at the Ralph Lauren in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Nevada (true story!) and then onto the Bal Harbour shops in North Miami Beach. To say that this was a fun and interesting job would be an understatement! I have loads of great stories. One day an interoffice mailer was posted on the back bulletin board stating “Ralph Lauren’s first ever executive training program”. I took this as my opportunity to move into the corporate world and less than a year into the program I found myself working at the iconic 650 Madison office as part of the women’s and children buying team where I spent several years. I went on to the buying team at Saks Fifth Avenue in women’s modern collections followed by a 100 year old, family owned sleepwear and intimate apparel company, Komar. I held several titles all at once, but most notably (and the most fun!), was setting up distribution for Donna Karen and DKNY sleep/ loungewear in Europe and Asia.
Joyann King Michael and her daughter
For anyone not yet familiar, how do you describe Stylest?
Alia: STYLEST system intersects shapewear and swimwear and sculpts your body (like Spanx does for your cocktail dress) to give you a head-to-toe poolside look. If you’re like me, you open your closet with three minutes to get dressed and the key is a plan, not pieces. We built the brand as a system that in three easy steps delivers your best body in a swimsuit and gives you a chic, fully styled look from kiddie pool to happy hour and ready for the million other things a day at the pool can bring!
How did the three of you meet, and what was the “aha” moment to launch Stylest?
Alia: Two and a half years ago, Joyann hosted a pool party at her house in upstate New York to get to know women in her community after relocating upstate full-time from the city. We were all in the pool and someone turned to Chrissy and said, “honey your bra is showing!” Turns out Chrissy has always worn a regular bra underneath swim but it wasn’t actually designed for the water. We thought, “this must exist” and it actually didn’t so we went down the path of development. As we were creating it we realized the gap was much bigger. We are all fashion lovers and have found as our bodies and lives are evolving our wardrobe options aren’t keeping up—especially when it comes to swimwear. So we started development on sculpting swimwear designed with fashion at the forefront and cover-ups that offer stylish solutions and complete a chic poolside look.
Chrissy McCurdy and family
How is this completely different from other “mom suits”?
Alia: Our proprietary fabric feels like lotion but has 3x the compression and sculpting power of most other suits on the market. Our combined fashion backgrounds differentiates our designs from the offering of mass swim brands but it’s really the power of trying the full system from the bra under your swim, adding on a chic sculpting suit and completing the look with a swim cardigan or sarong skirt that makes women say, “wow, this is unlike anything I’ve ever tried”. We get texts and DM’s daily from women saying they’ve never felt more confident in a swimsuit, which has always been our goal!
What is the feedback you hear most often?
We get texts and DM’s daily that we are excited to share amongst ourselves and with our team. Giving women the opportunity to feel confident at the pool is why we got into the business. We’ve had women write to us with personal stories and experiences about everything from feeling like they finally have a beach photo with their kids that they feel they actually can love to being confident enough to put on a suit 4 weeks postpartum. Shopping for swim is about so much more than “does this fit me”. We are so proud to be “stylists” to so many women who deserve to look and feel their best, every day.