Itza Bocken is nothing if not the full package. Smart, nice, beautiful and she has a kick ass entrepreneurial sense. Back in 2010, while many of her peers were doing nothing but partying and sleeping in, she was already starting up her first company Made By Chickies with friend/ business partner Evelyne Dumon. 5 years and an MBA in Beijing later, Itza is back with a new retail concept called Momoco, ready to solve all your bikini problems. Time to get to know Itza and learn all about her plans for her new brand!
I’m currently in the process of launching a crazy dream: creating the perfect bikini.
Q: Hi Itza! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
So my name is Itza, I’m 28 Belgian/Mexican but living inbetween Beijing and Belgium. Currently in the process of graduating of my MBA and launching a crazy dream too: creating the perfect bikini.
Q: Just out of curiosity: how is life in Beijing treating you? What do you like most about the city? Do you plan on coming back to Belgium?
Well… Beijing is a city of extremes. It’s very hectic, very dirty, very hot or very cold. When I arrived two years ago I was in shock. Although I had lived in many other places, Beijing was so different… I couldn’t really find my place and it’s really difficult to reinvent yourself in a completely new parallel world. Slowly I found the right friends/people around me and have lived some amazing things. In China anything is possible, for better or worse!
Q: Tell me, how do you keep ending up in Fashion Design? Years ago you co-founded the brand Made By Chickies, and now Momoco, what is it that keeps driving you towards fashion? Or is it more the entrepreneurship that interests you? Or the combination of both?
I actually never really thought about that.. I think you automatically get attracted to what you love to do. I saw a huge lack in the swimwear industry, where women’s needs are not really fulfilled, besides that, I just love to create cool products. I always wanted to study something creative but ended up chewing for 7 years on theoretical knowledge. I survived by combining it with my two creative side projects. I think it’s both the creative as the entrepreneurial side that attracts me. It’s amazing to see a product/brand grow its own identity!
Q: If you have to describe Momoco in three words, what would they be?
Witty , clever and confident.
Q: Was it hard to find out which producers to work with? (And where are you producing?)
Yes it was very difficult absolutely ! At first, I used the “IT” tool ‘AliBaba.com’ to find a producer. But it such a huge platform that is not always very useful for a small startup as Momoco Bikini. Through a coincidence and some hustling I got the opportunity to go to a swimwear fair in Hong Kong to promote small industry in Mainland China. That’s where I met my producer. Your producer is almost like a best friend, she has to understand you, has to have the same values.
In the beginning I was very hesitant to produce in China because I’m aware of the negative stereotyping of a “made in China” label. But after having lived there I got to meet so many talented and nice people that I decided to go ahead with it after all I felt good with it and that’s the most important! That is the exact same message that Momoco wants to send out to the world, if it feels good, just do it!
Q: She? Is your producer a woman? That is so cool! Do you think it makes her understand your product better?
If it feels good, just do it!
Q: How did you know which shapes to pick, what fabrics to choose? How did you educate yourself on this and the design aspect that goes hand in hand with swimwear design? Can you tell us something about this process?
I’ve decided the range of 3 shapes of bottom and 3 bottom of tops as they would be relevant for the most existing range of body parts. Depending on which body element you want to accentuate or hide you can always find a piece at Momoco Bikini. Before launching the brand I also executed market research trying to find what exactly women want!
I had learned a lot at Made By Chickies about productions but this is of course a completely new product with different standards. As a real rookie I just put a blazer on and acted all businessy and asked a lot of questions at that fair. Slowly I educated myself on which materials, trends, fabrics, printing techniques to use.
Q: Who and/or what are your biggest inspirations?
My mother for her strength, my boyfriend for his intelligence & focus. Entrepreneur LN knits for her philanthropic vision. For creative inspiration, traveling is an absolute must. Although Instagram and Pinterest sure give that ‘instant’ dose of inspiration without having to buy that expensive plane ticket.
Yes exactly ! Doomed with the financial status of a student it was a bit difficult to just launch a new brand and concept. I also saw the Kickstarter campaign as a test-marketing tool where I wanted to see if women globally saw Momoco as the answer to all the frustrations that come along the bikini picking process.
I have so much respect and appreciations for my Kickstarter backers. It is very fulfilling to create a ‘community’ around your brand even before the brand really exists! I’ve learned so much but wouldn’t really do crowdfunding again. I did chose it as my topic for my thesis.
Q: Why wouldn’t you do crowdfunding again?
It is very fulfilling to create a ‘community’ around your brand even before the brand really exists.
Q: How do you envision the future of Momoco (let’s say, in 10 years)
I’d really like to be present in at least all the regions where I have a connection with (being Belgium, China, Brazil and Mexico) these countries are absolutely perfect entrance gates towards other good markets (North America, South-East Asia, South-Amerika). I’ll stay and nurture Momoco until it is a fullgrown brand with a fully developed identity, vision and style. After that options are open to eventually continue with a new project.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m just very excited 🙂
Momoco will be launched very soon, so keep an eye on momocobikini.com!
All images (c) Momoco