‘He Knows What Women Want!’ Devon Windsor on How Her Husband Became Her Go-to Collaborator
Devon Windsor has modeled for Victoria’s Secret and just about every major designer, and now she’s adding entrepreneur to her résumé with the launch of her namesake swimwear collection. But she’s not stopping there! The Florida-based 26-year-old has set her sights on creating a full-fledged brand, and we’re here for it. We recently caught up with Windsor to find out how she’s building this new endeavor and how far she wants to take it.
We love your line! How did it come about to not only model but also create a swimwear line?
Being a model has always been one of my biggest dreams, and another of my dreams is to build my brand outside of modeling and to be more than just a model and a face. I just didn’t know what direction I wanted to go. As the years passed, I fell in love with swimwear and I thought the market was lacking swimwear that was unique and special—also something that wasn’t going to break your bank, because at the end of the day it’s a swimsuit. It was always something I wanted to do; I just needed to figure out how.
How did you even begin the process of launching?
My husband [Jonathan Barbara] owns a clothing line called Alexis. He’s been the guiding factor throughout this whole process. I wouldn’t have known where to start. Because he had developed his own brand he knew all about finding a factory, patterns, and design. My first step was getting him to show me what to do.
How daunting was that?
It was a bit intimidating. I didn’t know how much work it was going to be. I thought it was going to be easier than it was. I had no idea how much goes into starting your own business. It was intimidating but also eye-opening once I began. There are so many steps involved.
How involved are you in the creative process? Do you have someone who works with you on the design side?
No, it’s just me. My husband will tell me if he hates or loves something. I fully design everything myself. I can sketch, but they are very simple. I work with someone who knows me and says, “Is this what you meant by this?”
The line is really, really good, but there are a million swim lines out there already. What do you think yours brings to the table that makes it unique?
I try to stay away from your classic triangle bikini. I wanted to create something that was more elevated with detailed design. We tried to make it different. We wanted to create an outfit. Something you could wear the whole day. It feels like a look and not just a bikini. I think women nowadays are gravitating toward something more special. They want something they can put on and feel confident, so they can stand out from everyone else when they wear it.
You started as swimwear line just a year ago and now you’re breaking into other categories, such as sunglasses and dresses.
I started as swim and will continue to do so because that’s what I love and where my heart is. Honestly, I would love to develop the brand into as many categories as possible. I don’t want to overreach, though. I want to slowly grow and develop. We threw in some cover-ups last season and they did absolutely amazing, so we threw in a lot more this season. We’ve tied in the cover-ups. A swimsuit is great, but what do you wear over it? We also just launched sunglasses. I’m dabbling into areas that I’m curious about to see the reaction of people. My goal is to grow it into more than just resort wear.
Models like Emily Ratajkowski and Candice Swanepoel also have their own independent swim lines. Do you ever chat with them to discuss business?
Honestly, no [we don’t] and I don’t know why. I feel like there’s so much to learn about owning your own business. We don’t use a company that does it all for us. We literally do everything. We should talk. I have some other friends who own businesses, and they say I should try this or that or they’ll warn me something might be difficult.
There are a lot of models who have their own empires now, like Tyra Banks and Kathy Ireland. Who do you look up to?
So many! One of the ones I’ve always looked up to is Heidi Klum, who is such an icon. She went full-on in television with Project Runway and also started her own line. Tyra Banks is another. There are so many women who were models who I can look up to. They dreamed big and persevered; they wanted it to happen. You have to be proactive. If you really want it, you can make it happen.
What kind of interaction do you have with the customers?
Feedback is important to us. Customers will tell us if something fits too big or too small. We take all of that into consideration when we do our new collections. People are amazing. They’ll write and suggest this or that. Half the time it’s me responding to DMs or e-mails. The best thing ever is seeing something you’ve created on someone. If I’m on the beach and someone is wearing something of mine, I freak out.
Your husband shot the images for your latest collection. Is he also a professional photographer?
He’s not! He could be. He’s always been passionate about it. I got him a good-quality camera a couple years ago and ever since then he’ll take it everywhere we go. He’s gotten really, really good. He’s been on countless photo shoots with his brand, so he has an eye. Being with me, there’s so many Instagram photos that he has to take. He’s learned over time what looks good and what women want. That last photo shoot was a challenge because I did my own hair, makeup, and styling. My sister was helping. My husband was doing the lighting. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
Will you be the face of the brand for the foreseeable future?
Because it’s our first few seasons, I definitely see myself as the face. I wanted multiple girls in my latest campaign, but obviously coronavirus wiped out all of that. In the future, I’m not going to always be the face. I want to diversify. Because we’re just starting out, it makes sense. I will always be involved.
Where do people find the line?
We’re on devonwindsor.com. We have a huge direct-to-consumer business. We’re also in boutiques, and on Intermix and Shopbop. I want to grow our online presence.
What else have you got going on? How have your past few months been?
It’s been good! I can’t complain. I’m happy I’m not in New York. I think I would have gone crazy. I’m in a space where I can go outside and run. I’ve been doing a lot of cooking. Modeling is obviously a weird thing right now. I’ve done a lot of at-home shoots. I have this brand to focus on right now. It’s perfect. I can put all my energy into the brand.