Cayetana Uranga Talks Bikinis and Living with Cerebral Palsy
BY JULIA FORD-CARTHER
Fashionista Cayetana Uranga never let cerebral palsy stand in her way. Today, as the founder of Lolita's Beachwear, she's helping others feel their best on the sands.
Cayetana Uranga wearing one of her designs on South Beach.
Like any other 29-year-old entrepreneur, Cayetana Uranga drives to meetings and develops marketing plans to help build her clientele. But unlike most, the Peru-born founder and designer of Lolita’s Beachwear, a South Florida-based e-commerce site and bikini line, succeeds despite having cerebral palsy. Besides creating her swimwear, Uranga also raises awareness of the disease and funds to combat it.
How did your family react to your diagnosis?
When I was born, the doctors told my parents I wouldn’t be able to walk, talk, or live a normal life. But my parents were against an operation; they wanted me to make my own decisions.
What was your childhood like living with cerebral palsy?
My daily therapy began when I was 3 months old. My parents never treated me differently. I thought it was normal.
Where did your love of great swimwear come from?
We would always go to the beach, and my balance improved walking and playing in the sand. [My siblings and I] had more swimsuits than any other children we knew. We lived in them.
How did you develop the idea for Lolita’s Beachwear?
The idea began in high school. I always had a desire to build something for myself and be my own boss. When I went on vacation to Lima, I would bring back bikinis and sell them to my friends. Then, after I graduated college, I began shaping the company. I have 10 [Lolita’s brand] styles; I pick the prints and colors that are “life” colors, bright colors.
How are your suits different from what’s already available?
I see beautiful girls wearing the wrong type of suits or colors that don’t flatter their bodies—I want to help them. My sister and I created a size chart depending on body type. People should understand [and] be comfortable in their body. My challenge is to spread confidence to all women on the beach. Girls will feel so free in swimsuits that are colorful and that fit their body.
What contribution do you want to make to the CP community?
I want to do a charity event for United Cerebral Palsy of South Florida because not many people know about CP; I want to get the word out about what it is. I’m also starting to give them a portion of my proceeds.
What makes you successful?
I have a lot of courage. I used to be scared to go anywhere alone and of people staring. After I managed to drive, I realized I could do anything.
What advice would you give others with CP?
Don’t ever give up. It’s hard—when I was growing up, I never found anybody who was successful with CP that I could look up to. Today, I want to be successful; I want to be independent. Always.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GARY JAMES
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.