They say that behind every strong woman is another strong woman holding her up — but at Monarch Reign, this isn’t just a saying: it's a way of life. We believe that behind every independent, beautiful woman wearing a Monarch Reign swimsuit, there is a team of Monarch women with the same qualities in spades, led by our exceptional CEO and Founder, Ashley Busch.
Ashley sat down with us today to break down the inspirations, frustrations, and everything in between that makes Monarch Reign what it is today, and if anything has become more clear from our conversation, it's that there is so much more to the Monarch story than what meets the surface. What is the meaning behind the name? What is the process of designing a swimsuit like? What do our mesh swimsuits signify? These are the kinds of questions that set Monarch Reign apart from the masses — our story to production has heart, determination, and grit; all of which are undoubtedly inspired by Ashley’s dedication to crafting a sincere brand soul.
How did you come up with the idea for a swimwear company? Do you remember the moment you decided to pursue it — a sort of “aha!” moment?
I always knew I wanted to do something with design, whether it be interior design or fashion design. Fashion was something I gravitated towards at a young age; for me, it was an important avenue for me to express my personal style and wear pieces that were unique. From this affinity for design, the desire to create my own fashion brand grew. When it came to decide on a piece of clothing to specialize in, the answer was obvious: my closet is largely made up of swimwear, collected over the years as keepsakes to remember all the vacations and special places I have visited. This is why I decided that my brand needed to start with swimwear.
I wanted to create something in the swimwear industry that had not been done before, which is where my vision for the mesh swimsuit started. I wanted to create a piece of swimwear that was totally unique, made up of embroidery details that cover the body like a piece of artwork. The mesh was just a conduit for this artwork, a sort of base that camouflaged with the body to reveal true beauty, not only in the form of exquisite, hand-placed embroidery, but also in the individuality and ambition of the women wearing the suit. Truly, what is more beautiful than butterflies flying off a body?
Why did you choose the name “Monarch Reign”? I love how there are two ideas here (royalty and butterflies), was there one idea you were more gravitated to? Which one came to you first?
Butterflies are one of the most powerful creatures. They are soft and poised yet impactful and resilient — they are living proof of possibility and miracle work. Even a butterfly’s lifespan is a metaphor for self-acceptance and adaptability; just when the caterpillar believes its life is over, it metamorphosizes into a butterfly. I don’t know what defines hope, strength, and encouragement more than that.
Ultimately, I wanted a name that was strong, feminine, and multifaceted. Symbolically, the Monarch Reign logo exemplifies the simultaneous duplicity reminiscent of YinYang principles, supporting the idea that opposite forces can co-exist and support each other — like the delicacy a butterfly and the poise of a monarch, there is always another side of beauty that I strive to celebrate with Monarch Reign.
Who has helped you most through the process?
I have been lucky and surrounded myself with a team of wonderful ladies who inspire me each day to design from the heart and continue pursuing nothing but the best for Monarch Reign. Whitney Fatone and Caitlyn Keesler really helped me create the path to bring Monarch Reign to life. Along the way, we have built an incredible team; you know who you are, and I am so thankful for you each day and the effort and hard work you put forth for Monarch Reign.
Where are the Monarch suits produced? Is that an important piece of the story to you?
All of the Monarch Reign swimsuits are produced in NYC. It is important for me to produce my swimsuits and ready-to-wear in the USA to stimulate the US economy; furthermore, in manufacturing our suits in the USA, it greatly reduces our carbon footprint. Since we started our company, we have refrained from shipping our suits all over the world and incurring excess waste of material. We also use sustainable regenerated nylon for certain swimsuits.
We only have one earth, we must take care of it. Everything we do has a repercussion and I would like Monarch to be a positive one that helps to sustain the environment.
When did you feel like Monarch had officially become its own?
The first moment I saw my mesh swimsuit come to life, it was after almost two years of late nights, long meetings, and countless hours spent in front of a vision board. It turned out to be well worth the wait!
I remember the first show we attended being the most surreal experience: seeing Monarch Reign sit alongside already well-established swimwear brands at Destination Show in Miami, I was overcome with emotion.
What do you remember most about the early production phase?
It took us a long time to find a factory that could sew the mesh in the organic way I envisioned, as well as the delicacy of the embroidery. We went from factory to factory, and there were many moments when I thought it was going to be impossible to do it the right way. But we stuck with it! We finally found NYC Embroidery, who creates the most impeccable designs and brought Monarch Reign to life.