Alessandra Belle is the epitome of a woman on the grind. Driven by her entrepreneurial spirit, she traveled the world and worked as a communication professional in several different industries before making a decision to embrace her creative passions. Raised in Kingston Jamaica, Belle left the island for London at age 17. After residing in London for eight years, Belle moved to Qatar, which is known as one of the most conservative areas in the Middle East, where she lived for two years. She then moved to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, before returning to the UK.
While traveling, Belle was able to keep her finger on the pulse of out-of-the-box fashion. Over two years ago, she started research and development for a new lifestyle brand and concept. After researching what her ideal company would look like, Belle found her true north as the founder and creative director of COCONAUTICAL, which will launch their online store on May 1st. With summer right around the corner, their social media following has been anxiously awaiting the reveal. The concept behind COCONAUTICAL, what it represents and the scale of the operation, is a first for a female Jamaican entrepreneur. Belle has created a platform to empower women, who design their way, and now have a place to sell this empowerment. These female designers have found a hub in COCNAUTICAL, where their creativity is embraced, and distributed to women the world over.
We recently caught up with Belle to learn more about her motivation behind COCONAUTICAL.
KingstonToLA: Tell us about your inspiration for COCONAUTICAL, where did it begin?
Alessandra Belle: COCONAUTICAL, is really a bi-product of my evolution as a woman. I'm a Christian and for me I've struggled a lot to comprehend my identity as a woman and my sexuality and its rightful place in the world.
My womaninity if you will, has taken me on a journey, From my childhood in Jamaica and my travels in the Middle East. I went from two bipolar extremes. From Jamaica where a woman's body is looked at as a very sexual object to the Middle East where covering and the conservative culture of the Abaya is encouraged by a system of strict religious morals and values. I started to asking myself what sexy means?
When you grow up in Jamaica you spend most of your life half naked. I mean we live on the beach, so you were either in a bikini or in shorts. So when I went to the Middle East it was shocking but refreshing to see how women wore the Abaya and even more surprising that Emirati and Qatari men found them extremely attractive. It was a whole new world for me, where being covered held its own virtue of sensuality.
It occurred to me that sexy is really about the mind. The world has given women a false representation of what the word should be. We attach it to our identities as we define our inner man, rather than recognizing that it not only about the outward appearance. True sensuality is really about being empowered, confident and comfortable in your own skin at all times whether you are covered head to toe or butt naked on a beach. If you carry something deeper that no one can take away from you, then no one can label you and you have the authority to finally be free.
COCONAUTICAL is about being free. The pieces are chosen and we choose to work with brands and designers who are bold, fresh and fun. We dont do boredom, if you want a basic black bikini you can go on the high-street. For us its about the unexpected glamour by the pool or beach, the woman who has the bravado to step out in a metallic gold two piece because it's her world, you just happen to be in it.
KNG2LA: If you could see any celebrity practicing the COCONAUTICAL lifestyle, who would it be?
AB: We decided a long time ago that this business will be set a part for something special. Because we have a greater vision and purpose for the brand to become a platform for women we cant really afford to conform to the world's ideals and risk alienating anyone by being associated with one specific celebrity. We try to be in the world but not of the world in the sense that our lifestyle elements live throughout the brand. We keep things fun, fresh and edgy and we draw inspiration from fashion, music and lifestyle all over the world.
We also collaborate with a number of international brands, bloggers, models and DJs who we feel live the COCONAUTICAL life. This is really based on relationships which we work very hard to build and maintain. Were building a family through a vibrant community of movers, shakers and game-changers.
KNG2LA: Where do you see COCONAUTICAL in five years?
AB: We're trusting God to see this business transform the lives of women around the world. This sounds like a bold statement but we have very clear vision and understanding of some the challenges women face today especially when it comes to their bodies.
My partner and I have committed 10% of the brands profits to supporting women's issues. We are determined to see the brand grow to a point of being able to empower women through education, rehabilitation and skills. Eventually we have a heart to see more single mothers use this platform as a means to sustain their lives.
So basically we just want change the world, one click at a time.
KNG2LA: What is your favorite way to stay fit?
AB: I'll be honest. Im not afraid to go to the gym, pump some iron and then go to the nearest supermarket and grab some pie. I enjoy food. Im not really a fan of dieting but what can we say the body changes after 30 ... apparently.
KNG2LA: What kind of music do you foresee becoming a part of the COCONAUTICAL culture?
AB: We love deep house and reggae at the moment . Although the lines have become a bit blurred of late ... We're trying to integrate music across the platform, its a big part of the lifestyle of our brand. The kind of music you would listen to at beach party or chill to in your cabana whilst being served a fresh mojito. We want to take people away. So we try to incorporate music throughout social media and the website.
We're looking for the right mix of DJs and artists to develop a network for the site. Eventually we would really like to create our own sounds to go with each collection. Something our crew can take with them to the beach and party to.
Belle's pack of fierce and fearless associates will be dubbed the CN Crew, short for COCONAUTICAL Crew. This will include everyone in support of the brand and lifestyle. The online store launches May 1, 2016 so expect to see them popping up on your timeline in more ways than one. From music, to swimwear, to female DJs rocking hard in Ibiza, there will be a little something for everyone.
"Its really great to see our dreams come true after all the sleepless nights and hard work. Being an entrepreneur sounds glamorous, the truth is it has been hard work but it is worth it to build something this beautiful and watch it put a smile on peoples faces. We hope one day it will also change lives. We are blessed," says Belle.
Perfect for the CN lifestyle, listen to female rockstar SILVA's dope mix here: