A new framework that bridges the gap between beauty and wellnessread article
Cameron Armstrong’s earliest memory is of standing in the shower with her mother; between her legs, in a happy and safe space. It’s a beautiful visual representation of the ideals Cameron cherishes. Kindness, positivity, calm. It’s also a stark juxtaposition to the experience that drove her to start swimwear brand Kitty and Vibe: the vulnerable, uncomfortable, cringe-worthy experience of trying on endless variations of bathing suits that didn’t fit.
I think it’s my earliest (memory) ever - I must’ve been, you know, just able to stand - of being in the shower with my mom. I just remember being so small and having the water run down my face and feeling so safe clinging to her legs in the shower.
All of Cameron’s earliest memories are with family. She’s the youngest of three siblings - a sister 11 years her senior and a special needs brother who’s 7 years older than her. He’s been pivotal for Cameron, from an array of different perspectives. In their direct relationship, he’s taught her kindness and unconditional love. In the family dynamic, Cameron’s parents succeeded in their purpose: giving Cameron and her sister a normal upbringing, while still having a special needs sibling. And in her adult experiences, Cameron possesses the ability to be truly empathetic, simply because understanding has been a key component of her entire experiential base.
My brother has shaped so much of who I am as a person and I think instilled the virtue of patience in me from the moment I could walk and talk. He’s shaped my outlook on the world, because I guess disability and not being ‘normal’ has been so normal for me - he’s my absolute angel (...) Kitty and Vibe’s slogan is ‘Kind is my vibe,’ and that is directly from my brother. He embodies kindness. So I wanted kindness to be the foundational quality Kitty was built upon.
It went from being so safe in my own head, to asking so many questions and being so scared and uncomfortable in my surroundings.
A second crucial experience in Cameron’s life was her reaction to moving to New York City after college. Having spent her entire life outside of university in the same house in Atlanta, and being part of close-knit, familiar and kind communities and circles throughout her life and education, her new environment was a culture shock. She started a corporate job in beauty - ‘a small screw in a huge machinery,’ as she refers to the experience - and went through the motions, eventually getting so good at her job that she was almost on autopilot. Additionally, her relocation was on the heels of her sister having breast cancer. All in all, it became the perfect storm that led to a breakdown for Cameron.
It went from being so safe in my own head, to asking so many questions and being so scared and uncomfortable in my surroundings. I’ve always been a worrier - scared of things under the bed, scared of dark windows, scared of flying - but I think when I felt so unfamiliar my worry just completely defeated me. And that was a huge pivotal change, because I really started paying attention to my mental health (...) It was an awakening for me.
Since the experience, Cameron has been mindful of herself. Of her essence. Of the things she needs to, not just function, but be happy. When she speaks, she seems at peace and in balance - in fact, she seems the embodiment of the values Kitty and Vibe communicates, and actions upon. Like Cameron was the only person who could have managed, from the roots of her experiences combined, to take on an entire industry through the lens of kindness. And bikinis.
This product has so much power emotionally. It’s such a vulnerable product, it’s such an anxiety-triggering product that if I can harness that, and instill it, instead, with kindness it really can make people feel better (...) I just wanted to build something that made the world a better place. Something that made people feel better about themselves and actually gave me a sense of major purpose.
I just wanted to build something that made the world a better place
Cameron is one of those rare individuals who is authentic in the values she says she lives by - through her practice of them. She looks inwards. She’s kind. She’s understanding. Leadership intrigues her - because it gives her the opportunity to make her team feel celebrated and heard and seen. There is a strong inclusivity to her - the same inclusivity Kitty and Vibe is fighting hard to spread throughout the swimwear industry. They are all components of a beautiful, simple characteristic. Warmth. Which is also the aspect of Cameron’s personality that she’s most proud of.
I think when I meet and interact with people, I don’t think they feel any sense of coldness or sense of complacency. I think they know that I’m looking at them and that I care what they have to say. And I think I have a gift of being able to make people feel comfortable - which, again, goes back to my brother - of just accepting people how they are.
It would be no stretch to call Cameron hyper-empathetic. She has immense care for other individuals and their well-being. But just as it is with most empathetics, she has a harder time with that care and patience in and for herself. She appreciates the importance of mental health now - but her anxiety, and her restlessness to move ever forward, is still disruptive and can sometimes overtake her ability to be present.
I have this tendency to muddle. When things are going well I just, like, stir them. I start muddling and picking. I think I have an unhealthy sense of needing to grow constantly, whether that be in my personal journey of developing as a human, whether that be for Kitty to get bigger, whether that be to make more money, live in a bigger house - I’m constantly reaching, reaching all the time. And I think sometimes I need to just stop and appreciate where I am.
This continuous push forward often manifests as insecurity for Cameron, whether that be in the fear of being caught out without a plan - or in imposter syndrome of questioning how she was able to start a brand that’s been called the future of swimwear. How could she have done all of that? Being a young, female entrepreneur, Cameron is always having to prove herself. Still, it’s her uniqueness - her kindness and her warmth - that drives her forward. And that’s also what #OwnYourGlow means to her.
I think sometimes my warmth can be seen as a weakness - as not being tough. And I feel like I actively need to remind myself that it is my magic. It is why people are attracted to the brand, attracted to me as a person. That warmth. And I don’t need to dim it down or get rid of it just to fulfill the framework of what a successful entrepreneur is. I can own my glow and own my warmth and still be successful.