Nosy as I am, whenever I see someone chasing after and realizing their dreams, my first thought is always: how do they do it? Because of the highlight reel that shapes social media, I’m often dissatisfied with the answer. In our attempt to look perfect for others, we lose all possibility of authenticity and connection. But for Gigi Caruso, CEO, founder, and Creative Director of the luxury swim, activewear and loungewear brand, GIGI C, it’s her vulnerability and willingness to share the challenges she’s faced that’s ultimately led to her success.
At 23, it would be cliché and expected for me to write that Gigi is just getting started. Of course, she is—but the larger truth is that her drive and dream of founding a swimwear brand is rooted in her life-long love of the sea. Having been diagnosed with bilateral moderate to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss at birth, the ocean has long been where Gigi finds strength and inspiration. Her truth is succinct, but resonant: “I have always felt connected to the water because it was my escape.”
Despite being grateful for the support of her hearing aids out of the water, because they can’t get wet, it’s when Gigi is swimming or simply immersed in the ocean that she feels most peacefully, truthfully, and entirely at home within herself. It’s no wonder this passion for the sea translates seamlessly to beautifully and functionally designed swimwear that allows anyone to feel a similar sense of peace.
Gigi Caruso Shares the Morning Rituals That Set Her up for Success
As Gigi agrees, the most inspiring leaders innovate and find success through their challenges and constraints. When asked what advice she would share with anyone feeling discouraged by a disability, Gigi promotes a refreshing shift in view. While others may assume that your disability sets you back, she knows that’s in fact the magic and the motivation that can propel you forward. Gigi sees her hearing loss not as something that inhibits her, but an experience that amplifies her skills, her passions, and her perspective.
Just out of college, it goes without saying that this past year has been a whirlwind for Gigi. And although she has a clear go-with-the-flow ease about her, Gigi is honest and open as she reflects on what it really looks like to run a successful brand. I loved interviewing and gaining further insights from this powerhouse about the morning rituals that keep her grounded, the self-care routines that set her up for success, and our shared love of the entire Summer Fridays line. Dive into this founder’s world—who knows, you might be inspired to take a morning horseback ride yourself.
(P.S. Gigi is looking for reading reccos—be sure to send them her way!)
Can you share about navigating the challenge of hearing loss and how it inspired your brand, GIGI C?
My hearing loss has never stopped me from achieving my dreams. Although I was not born with the ability to hear like most people, and at times worried about what others may think, it only motivated me to work even harder to show those around me that I was just as able to achieve anything I wanted to as long as I put my heart and soul into it. My hearing loss was the inspiration to start GIGI C. I have always felt connected to the water because it was my escape.
I have always felt connected to the water because it was my escape.
You’ve shared that the water is your safe space. How did you decide to translate this into a swimwear line?
I can’t wear my hearing aids in the water, so the ocean is my escape. I knew there was a gap in the swimwear industry regarding functionality and fashion, so I created my own swimsuits capable of withstanding wakeboarding and water activities or relaxing on the beach. I believe that fashion should never inhibit your functionality. I incorporate these feelings into my designs by designing something I am genuinely so excited to wear in the ocean while being active, but also designs I can’t wait to wear on the beach or dress up for a night out.
You’ve built a community around your experience of hearing loss. What have you learned and how have you grown by connecting deeper with this community?
To me, hearing loss advocacy is vulnerability. I recently started a hearing loss series on my Instagram, where those with or without this disability can come together, connect, and ask questions. This is the beginning of forming a community I’ve always dreamed of growing up. I have learned that I am not alone. Discovering so many other hard of hearing people’s stories has made me realize there is a community out there; I just need to bring it together.
To me, hearing loss advocacy is vulnerability.
Knowing that I am not alone and can make a change in this community has grown my ability to be vulnerable and confident about who I am. I have also been hosting “Sounds of The Grove” events where people can gather at the park at The Grove and meet others who are hard of hearing and may be going through similar struggles. We have many fun activities to partake in and doctors there to help provide everyone with educational hearing information.
What advice would you share with someone who wants to realize a dream, but may be discouraged by a challenge or disability?
Take your biggest challenge and turn it into your biggest motivation. Whenever I feel discouraged or embarrassed, or whatever it may be about my hearing loss, I look at it as my biggest motivation and vow to not let it hold me back. I remember that I am strong, and I want to inspire others not to let their disability hold them back. But I can’t do that without doing it myself.
What has been your biggest learning over the past year?
There have been so many learnings over the past year. I have finally been able to focus on my brand without the stress of college and fully immerse myself in it day-to-day. I am so excited that I have been able to give so much time and attention to GIGI C, and I can’t wait for what’s to come.
In a few words, how would you describe your personal style?
Minimal, neutral, and timeless.
Let’s get into your morning routine. What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day looks different, but most include waking up, enjoying a coffee (or matcha), and heading to the stables to go horseback riding. I love to start the day with my horses. It’s a great way to relax before a busy workday. After riding, I’ll grab some food, get ready for the day, and get to work. I work from home right now, but I am so excited for the new GIGI C office space to open up soon. I can’t wait to be with my team in person every day.
What time is your wake-up call? How much sleep do you usually get?
I try getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. I’m a night owl, so it’s tough to fall asleep before midnight—I’m my most creative self at night. My days typically start at 7:30 am.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I grab my dog, Cici, and bring her into bed with me. I’ll think about what my day looks like and what I’m grateful for today, and set at least one goal for the day.
What rituals set you up for success?
Besides starting my day with horseback riding, I love a good morning skincare routine. Cleansers, serums, oils, you name it. I love sharing my favorite beauty and skincare products on my Instagram as well. A current favorite is Summer Fridays—I am in love with all of their products.
Describe your morning beauty routine from start to finish:
I wash my face with the Summer Fridays Cleanser and then I apply these Summer Friday products in the below order:
- Vitamin C Serum
- Eye Cream
- Cloud Dew Moisturizer
I am currently obsessed with GOOP’s Nourishing Repair Body Butter.
What are your go-to makeup faves?
While I have my current faves, this changes often as I love to try new products.
What do you eat for breakfast?
I typically have breakfast on the go while I run out for meetings. I always start my day with Alfred’s iced vanilla latte or matcha. I also love GoMacro bars for when I’m in a hurry (which is most mornings)!
What will we always find in your refrigerator?
Poppi! I drink one every day whenever I need a boost of energy or want something sweet but healthy. My favorite flavor at the moment is watermelon.
What are your morning rituals?
My morning ritual relies heavily on gratitude and self-care. Gratitude can include anything and everything —there is nothing too little or too big you can be grateful for. My self-care includes moving my body (by working out or horseback riding), taking care of my skin with my favorite products, and drinking lots of water first thing in the morning.
What are your favorite books?
I haven’t read any books recently but I would love suggestions!
What’s always on your nightstand?
I love unwinding and relaxing by lighting a candle at night. I’m currently obsessed with the Jen Meyer candle.
What’s your favorite getting-ready soundtrack?
Do you work out in the morning?
I start my mornings with horseback riding or a long walk around my neighborhood and prefer to workout before dinner.
What’s your daily uniform?
We take pride in our fabrics and materials at GIGI C, only using the comfiest most luxurious materials. Nine times out of 10 on an average day, I am in GIGI C! I love to dress up in our lounge for a meeting with an oversized coat or blazer. Some of my go-to lounge pieces at the moment:
I also love to dress up in GIGI C Sport for a busy day, and then I can just go straight from work to the gym without changing. Below are my go-to sport pieces at the moment (especially our jumpsuits)—our snakeskin fabric is my favorite sport fabric! Our new Cassie Jumpsuit that launched recently is a novelty and statement piece.
If you had one extra hour every morning, how would you use it?
I wish I was better at meditating, so if I had one extra hour, I would work on my goal of meditating more often.
What do you do every day to live a more present and joyful life?
I spend quality time with my family. We are all very close and do family dinners multiple times a week! Another thing I do is unplug from my phone and give myself time to relax my mind.
If you could pin your success down to one thing, what would that be?
My mom’s support has been an enormous part of GIGI C, and it wouldn’t be where it is today without her. Starting this brand with my mom has been the best part of it all.
I never leave the house without: lip products! I love all things beauty and always have Summer Fridays, Laneige, or Dior gloss on me for touch-ups throughout the day.
If there were more hours in the day, I would: visit my horses or spend more time with friends and family.
Healthiest morning habit: practicing gratitude.
Worst morning habit: hitting snooze a few times.
One thing I want to be known for is: Hearing Loss Advocacy.
The one thing I fear the most: not being able to achieve all of my dreams.
When I feel that fear, I: remind myself of how far I have come and to not be too hard on myself.
One trait you need to succeed in life is: confidence.
Bath or shower? And what’s your favorite shower/bath product? Showers but baths are definitely a treat. I love adding Pursoma bath soaks.