Interview with OT Surf – New Bikini’s

Christy and Scott of Ordinary Traveler just launched a new women’s bikini line designed to actually STAY ON for any woman who is tired of always fixing her bikini. We’ve pre-ordered a suit and can’t wait to get it for the summer! The line, called OT Surf, is manufactured in the USA and is being crowd funded right now through  Since we think highly of it we thought we’d share it with you as well.

Tell us what prompted you to go ahead and design a bikini that stays put? Was there one specific incident? I know I for one have flashed too many people as the result of an ill-fitting swimsuit purchased in Costa Rica.

It definitely wasn’t just one incident. I think most women get frustrated with their bikini from time to time. I’ve had incidents in pools or just laying on the beach, but mostly it came down to every time I ducked under a wave with my board, I would have to pull up my bottoms. That slows you down a lot, especially when the waves are big. There were also times when I was just playing in the waves and would come up for air only to realize I had to readjust my top and bottom before anybody noticed.

Bikinis that stay in place

How did you research fabrics and seamstresses? Do you have a background in clothing design or are you a project runway groupie?

Nope, I never got into Project Runway. Although, now I wish I had. I have always been creative and designing bikinis seems to come naturally to me. It could just be because I’m a perfectionist or that I feel so passionate about making this product.

Google is your friend. Well, sometimes. We did a lot of research online, but you would be surprised at how little information we could find. Even finding information regarding places that sell the materials we need. Almost everything pointed us to buying overseas, which we feel strongly against.

After a lot of trial and error, we finally found a company that is extremely knowledgeable and they have been a wealth of information. This information doesn’t come cheap though. :) We wasted quite a bit of money before we realized that you get what you pay for!

Did you test the product? Any funny stories you care to share?

Yes, we definitely tested it. Well, I tested it because I couldn’t get Scott to put one on. 😉 As luck would have it, most of the testing had to be done in winter. Now, you might be thinking that winter in San Diego is mild, but the water temperature is usually in the fifties. I was the only person out there without a wetsuit.

One day I had to test just the bikini top, so I had this bright idea that I would be slightly warmer if I went out with my wetsuit up to my stomach. It helped give me the courage to walk out into the water, but once I did my first duck dive, my suit filled up with so much water that it was weighing me down and I had to keep letting the water out the bottom. It must have been pretty hilarious to watch.

Today so much in our society is DIY, but even in today’s world DIY doesn’t mean easy. What were the challenges you didn’t expect when you set out to design and manufacture this line?

I can’t even begin to tell you how challenging it has been to perfect this product. From sourcing quality and eco-friendly materials to finding contractors that actually know what they are doing and then learning how to market all of it, I feel like the challenges never end. It’s been a learning experience to say the least.

Bikinis that stay in place

Tell us about your philosophy behind the product. I understand that the line is environmentally friendly and manufactured locally.

One of our main goals is to reduce our impact on the environment as much as possible. By sourcing materials in the USA and using local vendors, we are able to reduce our carbon footprint by limiting the energy consumed for shipping.

Another reason we chose to manufacture in the United States is because there are stricter standards for pollution controls and labor practices. Local production also allows us to closely monitor the consistency and quality of our products, which is great for us and for our customers considering we inspect every bikini to make sure there are no mistakes or defects.

We are working towards incorporating more recycled and eco-friendly materials into our bikinis. Sourcing recycled nylon/spandex has been quite a challenge, but we may have found someone in the United States who might be able to make the material for us out of recycled materials.

Right now we are focusing on what we CAN do and that is using eco-friendly hangtags and biodegradable mailers. Luckily, we have also found a great supplier for 100% recycled t-shirts.

How did you stumble upon What are the advantages behind crowd funding? Tell us how it works.

I think Kickstarter is a great way to give people the opportunity to become a fundamental part of a new idea or start-up company. We love involving our community in decisions such as color choices for our bikini line and possibly even new designs. I like that we are also able to offer limited edition pieces that will only be made available to the people who pre-order on Kickstarter. It gives people more of a voice, rather than just buying a product.

Your funding video is amazing – I know you’re both photographers, tell us about shooting the video.

Thanks! Well, first of all, I had no idea how hard it would be to find willing friends to model a bikini. As we look back, we realize we should have just hired a model because we went through quite a few cancellations.

Scott shot some of the footage of me while we were in Baja in February and the rest of it was done on three different days in San Diego. The times when it was just Scott and I were comical because we set up a camera and tripod that was shooting video and one that was shooting photos, while I was modeling and Scott was holding the reflector. These are the times we really wish we had hired either an assistant or a model.

Pre-sales through Kickstarter run through April 2nd, I highly recommend you order one now – your tush will thank you this summer!

Christy and Scott run the popular travel blog, Ordinary Traveler and they just launched a new innovative sports bikini line called OT Surf. They are trying to raise $15,000 by April 2, 2012 by pre-selling bikinis and t-shirts. If they reach their goal of $15,000, then they will go into production and start shipping bikinis! Click here to pre-order now. And remember, what makes Kickstarter so cool is that it runs on the all-or-nothing funding approach, so if you pre-order a bikini now and they don’t reach their $15,000 goal, you will be refunded 100% of your money! (Check them out of Facebook too!)

Review: Nalubale Rafting (Jinja, Uganda)

We contacted Nalubale Rafting when we arrived in Jinja at the suggestion of a friend. On price alone Nalubale was 30%-40% cheaper than just about everyone else in town and on that recommendation alone we were sold. After speaking to the owners/guides about the river levels and the river-boarding we preferred to do, we were also sold on the personalized level of service we were about to receive as well as their river knowledge as well. We are two whitewater kayakers, know many whitewater rivers, and know the difference between someone just trying to sell the river and someone who actually knows and respects its dangers. Working mostly with Reuben, we were told that the river was a little low for river-boarding but that we could take the boards and fins and do it whenever we could.

The morning was a bit slow to start on account of finding boards and fins for the three of us but even with that delay we were still on the water ahead of the other rafting trips. A quick lesson on using the boards in the river and we were good to go. Throughout the day Reuben was a perfect guide. Leading down good, clean lines so that we had fun in the rapids rather than a bad time. On those rapids of questionable difficulty he was clear in articulating the dangers and advised us when it was best to get into the raft and off the board…the final decision always left to us. Our day on the river could have been a lot worse but I don’t really see how it could have been any better. The extras were also top notch. The food provided to us, three small meals, was far more substantial than the one or two snacks I’m usually accustomed to…and then beers and sodas for the ride back to Jinja as well.

Logistics were all handled well and with three safety kayakers monitoring the three of us at all times we were never in any danger. I am not sure but I believe shuttles to Kampala and camping sites can also be arranged at no extra charge. The most difficult part of the day was that we were staying at the Nile River Explorers Backpackers, home to not only the only backpacker accomodation in town, but also one of the largest rafting outfits in the entire country. Their prices were higher and due to their size, the impersonal nature of the staff rubbed us the wrong way. Some managers were nice but others were the opposite of helpful and really irked us. In the end I was extremely pleased that we chose not to go down the river with them.
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Riverboarding the Nile…

Most people come to Jinja to raft the Victoria Nile. But we don’t raft. With the class V water over our heads for kayaking we did the next best thing…jump in with a boogie board.

Yes, you read that right, we boogie boarded some of the biggest commercially rafted whitewater on the planet.

Upon jumping into the water our guide first gave us a bit of a lesson on the board, the gist of which was don’t let go and keep kicking. With a raft floating down beside us that we were free to ride whenever we wanted, we actually sat the first rapid out as it was a little big to be our first.The next two rapids were a blast as we bobbed through the huge waves, easy as well. We sat out the next monster rapid as well, there were some rocks there, and after that it was all us.

Probably the most fun we’ve had in a long time, and needed after a bad week of dealing a ton of bad luck, the next rapid after the break was probably the most fun all. Called silver-back it was a huge class V wave that as we entered we literally rode a water slide down several meters and crashed into the first wave that was even higher. Diving under that wave we popped out on the other side into countless more, doing unintentional cartwheels the whole way down. When I came up I saw that Nikki, my cousin who is traveling with us for a few weeks, wasn’t holding onto her board and I reminded her to grab it and start kicking to river right. Grinning ear to ear she said no, that first she had to pull her bathing suit back up from her ankles.

After a few more fun rapids we did some surfing as well. Same basic concepts as in a kayak or when on the ocean but a bit harder as your legs are dangling in the water behind you. It takes an incredible burst of energy to kick the entire body forward and catch the wave but once there, its easy. I made it twice, the first time with the help of our guide, and each time stayed put for a very long time. The first time Jill was videoing me and the camera cut out after over a minute…besting my previous record by over a minute. 😉

The last big rapid is a waterfall followed by something called “the bad place.” Much earlier in the day, at the rapid called Chop Suey, we rode the raft into an eddy and then jumped off of a rock and kicked as hard as we could into the current, going through a huge wave train before popping out down river. Now we had the same opportunity at the bad place, I’d been forced to go first at Chop Suey and at The Bad Place, (both of these are class V rapids) rather than being first I was the only taker, jumping in right behind our guide and following him down…the girls waiting safely below in the raft. The best part of this, by far, was jumping into this huge rapid in front of a bunch of “scared as shit” rafters who were probably cursing under their breadth at that stupid cowboy American following a kiwi guide…of all nationalities! (Kiwis are known for their ‘spirit of adventure’) We jumped in and through the biggest wave I’ve ever seen, we’re talking Tsunami height here, and bounced up the other side…my heart had been racing in anticipation but in the end The Bad Place was nothing but fun.

It was a great, fun day on the river. The only scars to show for it were on my toes where my flippers were too tight. Doing river-boarding was an uncommon selection but was way more fun than rafting or even kayaking would have been. It was also nice to see how beautiful the Nile can be compared to what we’re anticipating further north in Egypt. This river won’t be available for whitewater for much longer, due to the construction of an impending damn, and I think we’re all thankful for the memorable day it gave to us.

Review: Kayak Pucon (Pucon, Chile)

We chose to do our Chilean whitewater kayaking with Kayak Pucon for a few reasons, but mostly because it was owned and operated by locals. We actually didn’t know it existed originally and walked into another whitewater shop in Pucon only to be turned off by the rather cold, business-like attitude of the proprietor. Had we not literally stumbled onto Kayak Pucon, we would have skipped kayaking in Pucon all together.

For starters their gear was some of the best we’ve rented in our travels, (we’ve had awful) complete with everything we could want for cold water paddling with the exception of gloves…but we didn’t want those anyhow. We had our choice of boats and aside from our guide we were the only ones on the river. Our guide, the owner, spoke his native Spanish as well as fluent English. We not only chose which river we wanted to run, but also which section and how much time for warm-up we wanted. In short, it was our own, privately tailored trip all for less money than that original gringo wanted to charge us. We had a great time on the river, no incidents to report despite the unusually high water, and hope to kayak with them again someday.

I do really want to stress the quality of the equipment. This was the first time we were in cold water and with were provided with farmer john neoprene wet-suits as well as dry suits. Several times on this trip we’ve kayaked in cold water with none of this made available to us.

Colombia Rafting Expeditions (San Gil, Colombia)

Listed in our guidebook as a kayak company (gasp!) we went to San Gil partly because of them. Arriving at their office, we were given a rundown of the few river sections available in the dry season. Wanting to put us on the Class II/Class III river before letting us go down anything more technical, we signed up to follow a river raft the following day. Unfortunately the equipment was very old and in poor shape. 2/3 of Danny’s warner paddle blade was missing, leaving him rather vulnerable upside down in the river. The equipment had seen better days and I wouldn’t want to be running a Class IV with any of it. Essentially we functioned as the safety boaters for the raft trip, but the river was more 2 than 3 so it turned out to be an extremely easy run. Disappointed we went back to the office to try to repeat the run that afternoon, but they were not inclined to offer us any discount, even without a guide. Their next trip was two days later, but we declined to go with them again partly because of their refusal to let us do the run again on our own at a discount, but mostly because of the poor quality of the rental kayak equipment.