This summer, Miami-based Ariel Swedroe joined the ranks of fashion designers showcasing original swimwear at Miami Swim Week 2017—all before entering the ninth grade.
Swedroe, who admires designers like Valentino and fashion icon Iris Apfel, says she always had an interest in fashion, and when her mother enrolled her in sewing classes at the age of 7, she was able to curate the skills to launch her career in the fashion industry.
Inspired by the work of her grandfather, architect and artist Robert Swedroe, she began incorporating his colorful collages into her work by 3-D printing his patterns onto her fabrics. The results earned her a spot at Art Basel Miami Beach 2014, where she presented her original line, Swedroe Art to Wear by Ariel.
“My grandfather’s art is vibrant and fun, while also telling a story, and that’s exactly what I want my clothing to represent,” Swedroe said. “I feel like our designs fit so well together—his collages with my silhouettes. They were absolutely made for each other.”
[more-links] Now at 14, Swedroe is more determined than ever to make her mark in the fashion world. She runs her own atelier, M2M Miami, where she produces made-to-order resort and swimwear under the same name. After sneaking her way into last year’s Miami Swim Week events by pretending to be a member of the press, Swedroe knew she wanted to participate in the event in 2017 as a designer.
“I saw so many buyers, bloggers and editors attending all of the fashion shows, and I knew it would be a perfect place for me to launch my resort wear collection,” Swedroe says.
This year, Swedroe debuted her line of colorful swimsuits, cover-ups and more at Miami Swim Week, no pretending required.
“I got to see a lot of high-end brands through pop-ups, presentations and fashion shows,” Swedroe says. “I got to meet Nick Cannon in the lobby of the W South Beach too! But the best part of it all was hearing all of the positive feedback from the buyers, bloggers and guests.”
When asked if she thought her youth would be an issue in the industry, Swedroe remains confident in her talents.”Although I haven’t gone to university yet for fashion design, I feel my strong sense of passion and my knowledge from what I have learned to date compensates.”
Swedroe still works closely with her original sewing instructor, Angie Cohen, and credits her success to Cohen’s one-on-one mentorship.
“She has always been supportive of Swedroe by Ariel, and she’s constantly helping me and constantly bringing me new ideas,” Swedroe says. “She honestly has taught me everything I know about the fashion industry, and I am even more confident today thanks to her.”
Cohen also introduced Swedroe to The Juanfe Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Cartagena, Colombia, that teaches young mothers skills that can help them support a family. Swedroe has been to Colombia twice to host her own sewing classes.
“We taught the girls how to use the sewing machine—how to thread and how to create button holes,” Swedroe says. “It was one of the best experiences of my life, and it was extremely humbling to see those girls and teach them a very important skill.”
While it might seem that the 14-year-old has done it all, Swedroe has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. After high school, she hopes to continue working in the fashion industry and take her line across the globe.
“I see myself going to Central Saint Martins in London and expanding my brand into menswear, shoes, bags, home decor and beyond,” Swedroe says. ■