Amanda Chinchelli is originally from Italy and is the founder and designer of Seea, a women’s specific line of surfwear. Brian Greer is the sales/operations manager and a former Bay Area resident. A husband and wife team, they create their locally crafted, 100% California line of suits in San Clemente, California.
Tell us about your background in design and fashion.
I graduated with a political science degree (laughs). Originally, I worked with my brother doing graphic design work for clients in the fashion business. Later, I moved to the US with Brian and we both went to work in San Francisco. I learned a lot working at a skateboard company – Deluxe. There I learned how to really specify and produce clothing for manufacturing.
Where did you get the inspiration to start a swimwear company?
It all started when I sewed myself a swimsuit to go surfing in Costa Rica last March. I was thinking about this concept for a long time – to make retro swimsuits. It just seemed to make a lot of sense.
How did you come up with name “Seea” for your company?
It’s my way of saying the word “sea” in Italian. In the my language, we have vowels that are really open. So I read it as (say-ah). It gradually turned out to be called “see-ah” because that’s how everyone ended up pronouncing it.
Why retro inspired suits?
It just fits a longboard style, you know? Surfing for me was never about the competition aspect. It was about going out and having fun and enjoying a healthy hobby. Yes, it’s a sport, but it’s also a way to relieve stress. And longboarding just fits women so well – it’s not how many tricks you do, it’s how you feel when you are on a wave – how you express yourself.
Tell us more…
Watching how ladies surf, I wanted to create something that was functional. But to be able to make something that was cute, and fun, and stylish. The main goal for me was to create a product that would protect you from the sun but would still look “cool,” without looking like a rash guard made with a thousand logos.
Who buys your suits?
Our audience is surprisingly really wide. There are a bunch of teenagers that like the retro part because it’s cool and trendy. But we also have ladies that purchase our suits who are older. In fact, Ashley Lloyd’s mom bought one in Malibu.
What do you love about surfing?
I grew up in the water since I was a little child growing up in Brazil. As I got older, I became a snowboarder and yet I always attracted to the surfing culture. When Brian and I moved to San Francisco, we finally had some waves to try. We started surfing and I just fell in love.
The best part of surfing is how you can express your individuality. I also really love is the unbelievable high that you get when surfing. I have never felt anything like it. I remember when we first moved here and I was surfing a lot. I would close my eyes and all I could see were waves.
Where do you get your inspiration for your line?
I think of function first. It might be something I might need for a surf trip. Or it could be “I hate rash guards that raise up in the back and then I get sunburned on my back.” So I ask myself, “How can I make a one-piece that is a long sleeve that still looks fun?” Details like the stripe print came about by thinking of a vintage Greg Noll type of thing. I didn’t want to be too literal, so I did the stripes as a watercolor!
Where do you come up with your color combinations?
I think I learned about color from my Mom. Colors come natural for me. Color is my main expression and bright colors make me happy. I also like to mix muted colors with brights, too.
What do you want your customer to feel when they wear your suits?
I want my customer to feel comfortable as well as protected from the sun and wind. What my customers always tell me is that they love the line when they see it – but when they actually feel the fabrics – that is when they fall in love.
Why make things locally?
It was important to me to manufacture our suits here to support the US. Even though I wasn’t born here in America, I want to be respectful and help the local economy.
Who do you admire?
Julie Cox. She is such an amazing surfer. I was at the Surfing Museum in Oceanside and I attended the Women of Waves exhibit and saw a video of her surfing. I said to myself, “Oh my goodness, this is how I want to surf!” I emailed her and told her how much I admired her surfing, and that if I could share a session with her. She was so sweet and said yes. We became very good friends after that and we even featured her in our catalog.
What do you love about living in San Clemente?
We live in a really great house and I can walk to T-Street in 10 minutes. And it is really close to Downtown LA when I need to get things for my business. It’s a wonderful place to live.
What’s next for Seea?
The main goal for us is to continue having this wonderful surfing lifestyle, to work hard on Seea, and to be able to take surf trips. We’re happy. Very happy.
To learn more about Seea, please visit their website here. Photography of product provided by Seea. Portraits of Amanda and Brian by the author.