Article: VOYAGE AUSTIN: Hidden Gems: Meet Morgan Rizzuti of House Of ZZ Swimwear
VOYAGE AUSTIN: Hidden Gems: Meet Morgan Rizzuti of House Of ZZ Swimwear
Today we’d like to introduce you to Morgan Rizzuti.
Morgan, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
So, I have zero design background or experience – “swimsuit designer” wasn’t an original childhood dream of mine or even something I saw myself capable of being at all. After college, I was kind of floating around the corporate world for a couple of years, not really knowing where I wanted to end up. I was downright miserable at my last job and my husband asked me, “If you could be doing one thing, what would it be?” Chillin’ on the beach and running a bikini shack for the rest of my life, duh. And of course that seemed really impractical…. until it didn’t. To tie it back, I’d been coming across lot of research about sustainability in fashion and had really begun taking an interest in the fashion industry as a whole before we reached the swimwear idea.
When my husband and I looked into it, the two coincided nicely. There were already developments with clean, recycled swim fabrics that worked on tackling the ocean pollution problem, and we managed to find a swimwear manufacturer that put ethics and sustainable practices first. It was a win-win. Now we just had to figure out how to actually bring a bikini business to life. Teaching myself design, how to effectively communicate and work with overseas manufacturers, and how to even begin to run a business was tough, but really cool at the same time. We went through a trial & error period of about a year and a half on designs alone before I actually scrapped together and launched my first collection. And as timing would have it, we launched during the height of a pandemic. Terrific!!! Though, with some odd luck and hard work, we managed to pull through. I think learning to navigate with all odds against us has taught us more than we could EVER imagine and I’m actually pretty thankful for the little bit of good we were able to pull from it. We’re now about to launch our second collection and continuing to just roll with the punches!
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Not smooth road at all. It more so feels like we have been off-roading in a golf cart this whole time. But that’s part of what makes it so rewarding at the end of the day. I’d say the biggest struggle has been working with my significant other. Don’t get me wrong – this double as one of the best parts of our business as well!! It sounds all cute n’ fun at first, but my husband and I have very different working styles and motivations. He is left-brained, I am right-brained, I’m a night owl and he’s an early bird, etc. Despite all of that, we’re constantly adapting to what’s working for us and what’s not. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Then, there’s the added bonus of the pandemic, which I know has been a struggle for every single small business and working individual out there. We were self-funded from the start and then all of the sudden lost our only source of income to support us as a family AND build our company. No one was traveling. Economy slowed. People were spending less. We had all this inventory and no one to buy it. And when a few people did start buying things, we couldn’t get restocks from overseas due to delays. Your first year or two in business is usually do or die and this was all really disheartening at times. Like, wow. We put all this work in, haven’t even really started and we’ve already failed… But grit and optimism are key and they’re the only things that kept us afloat mentally.
As you know, we’re big fans of HOUSE OF ZZ Swimwear. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
HOUSE OF ZZ is a sustainable swimwear company that aims to blend beauty with purpose. We’re ‘A Bikini Brand That Gives A Damn’; we make luxe, feel-good swimwear that celebrates the female form and we’re hyper-focused on creating it sustainably and ethically from start to finish. I’m the Founder and Designer and I run my business with my husband, Michael. He’s the CEEO – the Chief Everything Else Officer. My goal is to run this company with full transparency and with a relatable, fun voice, and I like to think that’s what sets us apart from other brands. Sustainable fashion is fast-growing – which is amazing – but a lot of big name brands are simply just greenwashing and trying to hop on the trend and you have no idea what they’re really doing behind closed doors. The truth is, it’s really hard to do things sustainably and the switch doesn’t happen in a flash. It’s a process and there’s a lot of temptation to do things faster and cheaper at every corner. I think I’m most proud of everything we’ve been able to accomplish under this umbrella and that we’re overall a part of something bigger than ourselves!
So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
Honestly, enjoying the small things or moments in life. I respect the “hustle” and love the grind but I never want it to take over my life. I truly enjoy stepping back and celebrating the little victories as I go through this journey. Another thing that matters to me is doing the right thing – not because you have to, but because you can. I love having this motivation to be a small part of a bigger sustainability movement even though it would be much easier to not make the effort.
1st Photo: Photographer: Enzo Hamma Pictured: Nichelle Yvette, Elle Jules All other photos: Photographer: Sean Neil Pictured: Polina Volynets