Model and designer Tori Praver on the moment a lifelong goal was realized.

Malia Murphy, in Tori Praver Swimwear, shot by Brooke Dombroski for Society Bikini, photograph courtesy of Tori Praver Swimwear

Growing up in Hawaii, I lived in — and loved — bathing suits.

I had an insane collection of them as a kid, and always dreamed of starting my own swimwear brand one day.

On a 2009 trip to Bali with my then boyfriend-now husband, [pro-surfer] Danny Fuller, he mentioned that his friend’s wife owns a swimwear factory there. And while I wasn’t planning to start a brand at the time, I met with her by chance.

Praver’s husband, pro-surfer Danny Fuller — who helped kickstart the birth of her swimwear company — catches a wave, photograph by Todd Glaser

I showed her my sketches, she made a pattern, and [before I knew it], Tori Praver Swimwear was born.

I came back from Indonesia with a bunch of samples of my very first design: a little black bikini with a classic triangle top and a low cut brief.

It was ruched — something unique to my brand — double lined, and seamless, with no hardware.

Praver, in her own design, photographed by Steve Erle for the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

Something super important to me, as a surfer, is that my suits can stay on in the water, while also being sexy [on the sand].

The brand took off immediately and was picked up by [nearly] every store in New York City. But it wasn’t until Sports Illustrated’s 2009 Swimsuit Issue — a magazine I had modeled for — featured the bikini that I finally felt like I made it.

— as told to The Thick

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Gigi Hadid, in a bikini top by Praver, photographed by Yu Tsai for the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue