A Daughter-Mom Swimsuit Biz That’s in The “Loop”
June Loop Offers Fashions for All Body Types
By Ed Goldman
Kristie Kemp is one of June Blackhurst’s 10 children but has the distinction of being the only one who’s in business with her mom.
The two own and do all of the swimsuit designing for June Loop. It’s an online store they operate out of an 800-square-foot pool-house in June’s backyard in Nampa, Idaho. (Despite its global unfamiliarity, Nampa’s the third most populous city in the state, with more than 100,000 people. So there!)
Kristie Kemp and her mom, June Blackhurst. Photo by Ampersand Studio Photography.
The company ships its mainly two-piece suits—designed for women from 25-45 years old who want to feel comfortable in their own bodies again after sharing it with their babies—throughout their city, state and country.
But if you’re expecting this to be a heartwarming Hallmark tale about a quaint mom-and-daughter shop, please be advised that the June Loop multi-colored merch—which began as completely handmade suits but is now manufactured to the owners’ very precise specs—also has eager buyers in Singapore, Australia, Germany and Canada, among other ports of call. (So there again!)
“I had just had my first baby,” recalls Kristie, who now has three kids, “and I was about to take her to a swimming pool when she was just about a year old.” But Kristie says she “really didn’t like how I looked in a bathing suit” post-partum—while, at the same time, she knew she had “nothing to be embarrassed about” and also realized how many other new moms were in the same spot.
In addition, June says, “Fashion magazines and the rest of the media have been making women feel ashamed of their bodies for years and years if they’re not a perfect size and shape—as if there’s only one way to be.”
So Kristie, who says she’d “always been into using my hands and doing graphic arts in school,” decided to make her own outfit to wear to the beach: a deliberately unmatched two-piece suit with nonetheless complementary colors. “All of the woman I ran into started asking me where I got the suit and how they could get one,” she says with a laugh. “So I got busy.”
Kristie had taken a page from June’s own book. “I’d always loved to sew,” June says, “and when I had six little girls and four little boys to take to a water park, I knew that the best way to keep track of them would be to make easily recognizable swim suits for the girls. I just let the boys wear regular shorts. For some reason, they were easier to keep tabs on.”
The girls’ suits were rendered in similar enough palettes to be thematically (and visually) linked, June says, “but no two were alike, just like none of the girls were.”
June Blackhurst is 69 years old; Kristie is 39. They were both born in the same month: June, of course. And while we’re at it, Loop is “pool” spelled backwards.
June and her husband Doug’s 10 children range in age from 31 to 47. Kristie has named her swimsuit designs for her sisters who are, from eldest to youngest, Jenelle, Mary, Cindy, Kristie herself, Summer and Emily. “Some of them help me or model for me,” Kristie says.
Kristie lives “a mile away, if that,” from her mom. “I grew up watching her sew, for us and for everyone,” Kristie says. “There was a time when the only thing I could sew was a pillowcase. So it’s not like I said to myself, ‘Someday, I’m going to make a business out of sewing things for people.'”
Role Model. Photo by Ellen Hansen Photography.
June says she learned to sew in high school and has had no formal training in the craft. “I sewed all my girls’ dresses—even their wedding dresses,” she says.
Each two-piece June Loop swimsuit can be mixed-and-matched with other ones. Eventually, both women say they’d enjoy having, as June says, “a little storefront where people can come when in town or just driving through.”
“Design is kind of in our blood,” Kristie says. “It always will be.”
If you’re hoping to get a jump on Black Friday or, more fashion-forwardly, next spring or summer, you could do worse than surf the June Loop website when the weather’s cold and the idea of swimming again is still a fantasy—if a multi-colored, two-piece mix-and-match one.