MELODY PRIETO - Owner & Designer of Inital S swimwear

Meet Melody

French model and entrepreneur, Melody Prieto seizes the opportunity in entrepreneurship after studying communication. She worked for the most exclusive brands such as Dior, Calvin Klein, Balmain, Gucci and Prada and poses for numerous magazines such as Vogue, New York Times, W and Love. And all of this in only 8 years. Now she has one goal in mind: to create a modern, timeless and responsible beachwear label. Which in my opinion, she already succeeded at. Read more about Melody and her business below.

Please tell me about how you got your career started and how you ended up where you are today.

Well, I was scouted in the subway in Paris on my way to school at the age of 19. But I wanted to have my degree first so I started modeling at the age of 22. I was very lucky beginning of my career, as my first job in fashion was the Spring Summer runway show as exclusive for Calvin Klein September 2013. I flew to Milan for Jil Sander exclusive and to Paris for all the big shows for big houses such as Dior, Balmain, Isabel Marant and many more. From there I had the opportunity to shoot for prestigious magazines. It’s been now more than 8 years since I started and I still love my job very much. I just moved from Paris to London to explore new opportunities.

What motto do you live by?

"Just do it" from Nike. I guess it might have to do with I growing up practicing between 4 different sports a week outside of school when I was a kid. I remember at one point I was swimming, doing Taekwondo, Aikido and riding horses (competing also on the weekends.) It gave me rigor, resilience, loyalty and the strength to always fight for what I want in life, beside my parents who always have been there for me to support me on everything I wanted to achieve. I never felt something was impossible, maybe difficult but not impossible.

Can you tell me a bit more of what your childhood looked like? Did you see yourself when you were younger doing what you’re doing now in life?

One thing is sure is that I never pictured myself as a model or an entrepreneur. I grew up between the suburb of Paris and my grand mother’s countryside house on the weekends and holidays. I had a very lucky and peaceful childhood with a very close family. I was the intellectual and tall girl with very good grades at school, always in my books (I didn’t have the right to play video games and internet was just starting to bloom.) I was bullied during primary school for that. Kids can be very mean. But apart from that I consider myself extremely lucky to have grown up in a loving family, with my parents very much in love with each other and caring for their children. They did everything they could to offer my sister and I the best life possible.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how comfortable are you with yourself and what kind of journey has this been for you to feel this way?

Probably 7 I will say. It has been a very long journey  to be comfortable with myself. 10 years ago, I found myself in a very bad place mentally. I started to have an eating disorder and anxiety appeared quite brutally with depression. At one point I couldn’t leave home because I was too scared. I have done a lot of work, a lot of therapy to be more confident also. Being in the fashion industry, especially if you’re a model is not that easy. You have to face critics and rejection all year long. It’s not a peaceful path, but I became stronger and the more I am growing, the more comfortable I become with myself. I think it’s a great thing people and celebrities are finally speaking up about these kind of issues. For me, the key has been to take things step by step and having family and close friends being very present is helpful too. I still struggle with anxiety from time to time but I’ve learned to control it a bit better. Having a brand will definitely make you sweat! I know I didn't choose the easiest path but it’s the one I want and I’m ready to fight for it.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs? What does your creative process look like?

Initial S's motto is ''Born by the Sea, influenced by the Sun''. I find my inspiration by travelling, mostly to the beach and around nature. It's been a trip to Costa Rica that has awoken the idea of a swimwear brand. I can also immerse myself for days in film, with summer and sea as inspiration. For example, this Christmas I watched almost all of Sorrentino’s filmography. I’m a big cinema fan and it's a real passion of mine. When I submerse myself in films, there is suddenly creativity, along with a lot of ideas. I’m also very inspired by runways as I'm always looking for cuts.

What is your favorite piece of your collection?

This is a very tough question…the Vita top is my favourite together with the Nyl bottom or the Ivy. I actually don’t wear much of a top at the beach so it’s not easy to choose.

What is the best advice you can give to young entrepreneurs who want to start their own business?

Don’t be afraid of failure and celebrate the small wins. The journey into entrepreneurship is never full of success. It's very challenging and can be very lonely. You will learn from your failures and enjoy the little victories. Take things step by step.

There have been a lot of new changes and challenges in the last 2 years. Do you think this time has encouraged the world to be more thoughtful in terms of what they purchase and how they shop, and do you think that will continue going forward?

At one point I think it did, but in the same time fast fashion has also boomed. Shein is the perfect example for that. I think people realize that we, as humankind are vulnerable so some people are trying to change their habits and try to be more involved into sustainability. But at the same time there's still an urge to consumerism and not everyone can afford to have a sustainable life because it can be expensive.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be kinder towards myself.

How do you combine entrepreneurship and modeling?

It’s definitely not an easy one. It’s a lot of work and pressure. I’m trying my best by keeping a simple routine, wake up early, work out and eat healthy and not counting my time. It’s very tiring but also very rewarding at the same time, as I love what I'm doing very much. I’m literally working every day but I also know when to stop and take a break. I enjoy quality time and still manage to have a little bit of a private life. You have to make sacrifices but I’m willing to do that to chase my dreams.

You mentioned that sustainability is important to you, could you tell us a bit more about this process?

I always lived by ‘buy less but better’. So I guess it’s coming from that and the fact I am very aware and sensitive regarding the environment in which I’m living. For example, I try to buy organic and responsibly as much as possible. I don’t eat a lot of meat and fish anymore. I’m prioritizing the train over the plane when I can. I’m being careful when I buy clothes, in regards to where it’s made, the fabric etc. I’m also using my parent’s clothes a lot. I always try my best and I place these values into Initial S. Global warming is rising very quickly and I think it’s scary to be honest because we are starting to see the changes in massive storms, floods and the heat we now have around the world all year long.

What does comfortable mean to you?

Feeling good and confident in your own skin.

Do you have personal goals that you can share for 2022?

I just moved to London, so I will say being able to make a life in a new country. Also improving Initial S at the same time. I was drained by Paris when I left in October and London is giving me such high and positive energy and opportunities.

What would someone never guess about you?

My age! I look younger than I am and I have to thank my dad and my Mom for that for sure! People always have a shocking response when I tell them my age. I’m about to turn 31 and I have never been so fulfilled in my life. I’m starting to finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I feel more confident with my body and my mind and I don’t feel too much of the social pressure to get married or have a child even though everyone around me is at this stage in their life. I have so many babies around me at the moment. In 2021, 4 of my best friends were expecting.

Could you please share 5 tips and some of the lessons you learned along the way on how to build your own brand?

1. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. People will usually be glad to help, you just have to ask!

2. It’s ok to be scared but don’t give up even if it’s not easy.

3. Know how to disconnect during the day even if it’s only 5 minutes. You need to clean your mind to be able to be productive and work well.

4. Don’t listen to everyone’s opinion. Your friends, family, people around you are going to share their thoughts and ideas with you and not everything is good to take on board.

5. Trust your instincts. Even though it’s still good to challenge your opinion, it will make you think and open your eyes differently and maybe find the solution you were looking for. And if I have to add one more, be humble.

Visit the website to check out all the collections

March 31, 2022