with Libby Fitzgerald the woman behind Sea Star Beachwear
Chic and Inspiring – The Woman Behind Sea Star Beachwear
Libby Fitzgerald took time off from the business world to focus on her family and is now launching an exciting new company, Sea Star Beachwear.
BWB sat down with the beautiful entrepreneur in New York City one month before the launch.
We are thrilled to share this exciting moment with Libby and her partner, Michael Leva!
BWB: How were you inspired to create the fabulous water friendly espadrilles?
The design has been around so long and they are such a staple of comfort and style in many countries.
I was looking for a shoe that I could wear into the water that was also attractive enough to wear to lunch, around town, and boating.
I found that no shoe existed that could serve all these purposes at once. The classic espadrille design is timeless.
We adapted the fabrication so that the Beachcomber Espadrille is made with a neoprene upper and a rubber sole.
The sole looks like the traditional roping of an espadrille, but it is rubber so it protects your feet and has a non-marking, non-skid deck shoe bottom.
BWB: How do you feel when you are wearing a pair of your espadrilles?
The neoprene is soft and snug so the shoe is comfortable and stays on in the water. The sole looks like the traditional roping of an espadrille, but it is rubber so it protects your feet and has a non-marking, non-skid deck shoe bottom. They are functional and chic at the same time!
BWB: How long does it take for them to dry on the feet?
The Beachcomber Espadrille loves to swim and it loves to sit in the sun! They take about twenty minutes to dry in direct sunlight.
BWB: Who do you have in mind to wear this shoe?
Anyone who loves an active, seaside lifestyle! Our customers are looking for a versatile shoe that is easy and chic, and will match their on-the-go lives.
We are launching with a collection for men, women and children. We hope the traditional design will appeal to all age groups.
Our first collection of Beachcomber Espadrilles will include nine colors for women and four colors for men and children.
BWB: What are the colors of choice for the July launch of the espadrilles?
Our first collection of Beachcomber Espadrilles will include nine colors for women (blue, red, aqua, orange, pink, black, blue and white stripe, red and white stripe).
We designed four colors for men (blue, black, red, blue and white stripe).
We have four wonderful colors for children (pink, blue, blue and white stripe, black).
We thought it was important to launch a collection for the whole family in classic colors right from the start.
BWB: You love the ocean! It has always been a big part of your life and travels. Please tell us some of your favorite spots.
There are so many! In Southampton, New York, I love to relax with family and close friends.
I love the laid-back nature and beautiful water of Harbour Island, Bahamas.
Miami has fabulous museums, restaurants and diversity.
Capri, Italy is the best place on earth!
BWB: Where did you do your first photo shoot for Sea Star?
We wanted to show the diversity of the Beachcomber Espadrille by photographing it in multiple scenarios. We started in Miami and shot at Wynwood Walls, South Beach and the Fontainebleau Hotel. Then we traveled to Harbour Island and shot on the Pink Sands Beach, tidal flats, historic district and marina. We covered a lot of ground and the shoe preformed beautifully.
Whether it’s a leather handbag, all-natural beef or a water shoe, the sophisticated customer wants something that is beautiful, well made and functional.
BWB: You were a key figure in the world of PR in the USA for Hermes of Paris for many years. Then you developed your own family business with the incredible Greyledge Farm’s all-natural meat products. How do you feel these experiences helped you in developing Sea Star Beachwear?
My background has taught me the importance of a quality product and simplicity of design. Whether it’s a leather handbag, all-natural beef or a water shoe, the sophisticated customer wants something that is beautiful, well made and functional.
Our Beachcomber Espadrille fulfills a need for a product where no thoughtful product existed.
BWB: Tell us about your fabulous business partner!
Michael Leva has been involved in the fashion world for over 30 years. His expertise lies in his talent for design, branding and fabrication. He has a crazy sense of humor and we love working together. We are excited to launch our Beachcomber Espadrille this summer, and then expand into a true lifestyle brand in the coming years!
BWB: Please share some advice for our readers about your personal wellness routine.
I try to take a ballet-inspired barre method class every day. I find that the core-centric exercises and stretching are essential. I also walk a lot in New York and ride my bike on weekends.
Finally, getting a lot of sleep is essential.
BWB: You are such a natural beauty! Can you share some secrets with us?
I have a proper skin care routine. I eat well and again, sleep is very important!
I found that managing Greyledge Farm with my family for many years taught me the importance of eating as healthily as possible. An all-natural and varied diet can really make you look and feel better.
I try to limit and control the amount of stress in my life. This is so important. Nothing is as aging as stress.
BWB: You are a frequent visitor to Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts. What do you like most about this spa?
I go every year with a group of girlfriends. I find that it is important to make time at least once a year to concentrate on my own well-being and relax among close friends. As women, we often think of ourselves last. We need to make time to re-charge our minds and bodies. I love Canyon Ranch’s terrific yoga classes and spa treatments.
BWB: What is your favorite skin care product at the moment?
I use all Clarins products. Now that I am in the sun and traveling more, I find that their moisturizers and sun products are vital to my healthy skin maintenance.
BWB: What has been the most challenging part of starting this new business?
A lot of women I know left high pressure professional careers to rear a family. It’s hard to go back to work after a long absence. It’s particularly nice to find a meaningful job with some flexibility. Becoming an entrepreneur is a great option but taking an idea and making it a reality is extremely difficult. For me, partnering with Michael made it happen! I would not have been able to get this far without his partnership and expertise. I am very lucky.
BWB: You are a fabulous wife, mother, entrepreneur and long-term board member of The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City. How do you maintain your inner calm and balance in life?
I think that reducing and managing stress is the most important ingredient to a calm and balanced life. We need to try not to do too much at one time. As women, we attempt to do so much for our families while focusing on our careers. This can easily become overwhelming.
A hot bath at night before bed works wonders! For the Bath: My best friend gave me Jo Malone’s Vitamin E Body Treatment Scrub for my birthday. It’s great to use at the end of the day to refresh and renew your summer skin. As for bath gels, just to soak and relax, my favorites are Sicilian Lime by Ortigia (Scicily), and Via Camerelle by Carthusia (Capri). They are both very summery and light, and remind me of my favorite places during the dark winters of New York City!
Katie von Strasser is a former ballerina with a background in fashion and art. She is a devoted advocate for people with disabilities. Katie has a passion for travel and all things beautiful.
She resides in San Francisco with her family. (Photo by Darryl Nitke)