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Haus of Pinklemonaid Designer Andi Frederic Gets Personal About Self Identity

The swimwear designer is excited about sharing more of themself with the world.
Andi Frederic photographed by Julia Kiecksee

Andi Frederic photographed by Julia Kiecksee

I can remember the first time I saw Haus of Pinklemonaid swimsuits as an intern in the fashion closet at SI. They were beautiful, intricate, and looked potentially confusing to put on. Hanger appeal aside, when the suit reached the body, it was transformative. To this day, Andi Frederic understands how to highlight the female form like no other. Regardless of the amount of actual fabric used, there is always something more to a HOPL suit. Frederic’s designs have been featured in SI Swimsuit over 100 times over the last seven years. While in the past Frederic typically remained under the radar and made their name through their designs, we finally got a chance to hear their story on both a professional and personal level.

SI: How did you get your start in the swimwear industry?

AF: Professionally, it was 2012. That’s when I launched my brand, Haus of Pinklemonaid. Swim design started with my friend who asked me to make her a swimsuit for a party she was going to - I had never made a swimsuit before at that point. I got excited and created a piece using wooden bangles and wooden earrings and pinned it to my dress form and that was the birth of HOPL. When she tried it on she went bananas.

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SI: What was it like the first time your designs made the issue?

AF: At the time, I was working in luxury real estate development 9 to 5. When I first launched HOPL, I knew I wanted to be in Sports Illustrated. I had been trying to get into the magazine for two years and nothing ever made it. I was definitely in a place of questioning my talent and purpose. I know this is a universal struggle everyone deals with in their life, no matter what industry or path they are chosen for. I remember I actually prayed over the box I was sending over to SI with a friend (the woman I made my first ever swimsuit for) and then I found out on Dec. 17, 2014 that I might be featured in the magazine. Fast forward to the release date, and my birthday: Feb. 9, 2015. I was coming back from my best friend’s wedding in Mexico, arrived in L.A., ran to the newsstand and asked for a copy of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. I started flipping through the pages and kept flipping, seeing all the SI legends; Chrissy, Irina, Nina, Kate Bock. I was almost to the end and I seriously thought the image was cut. I got to the last editorial shot by Yu Tsai, who I love, and saw Gigi Hadid. I flipped the page again and then I saw my swimsuit on one of the most talked about faces of the year, who I had dreamed of working with since the “Blurred Lines” video and was literally on my vision board at the time…the iconic Emily Ratajkowski. She was wearing the ELLE, our classic one piece in cobra print with fluorescent detail.

Emily Ratajkowski photographed by Yu Tsai in Kauai, Hawaii in 2015.

Emily Ratajkowski photographed by Yu Tsai in Kauai, Hawaii in 2015.

SI: Of your many, many features in SI, do you have a favorite shot?

AF: A lot of the SI shots have been very exciting for me so this is really hard. The really special moment was the first moment, as it should be. I think anyone can relate to that intense and all encompassing experience when you feel your work has been seen, validated, respected and, most importantly, loved. I’ll give you a few other moments that I enjoyed… Kelly Gale. She is of Asian heritage like myself. The bathing suit she was wearing was made from vintage embroidered placement linen from Chairish. She looked so stunning. Another special one was Ashley Graham, shot by my fave again, Yu Tsai, in 2017. Ashley was the first plus size model for SI and I felt very grateful to be a part of that growth in the fashion industry. MJ has always been a trailblazing queen for SI Swim. When Valentina Sampaio, the first trans model to be in the issue, appeared in my suit in 2020, that was not only personally inspiring but it was bigger than myself. It was an entire movement that shifted the entire industry which is what I love about SI – MJ is forward thinking and aligns with culture and stands her ground about inclusivity. In my opinion, she is a true leader. So many special moments, so many favorites. How can I forget the Barbara Palvin moment, Chrissy Teigen, Lais Ribeiro….all the photographers that literally made my dreams come true through their exquisite work like Ben Watts, James Macari, Kate Powers…and there are so many more. When I think about it, it makes me emotional.

SI: When I think of your pieces, sexy and unapologetic are words that come to mind. What do you try to communicate through your designs?

AF: I truly believe everyone is beautiful and deserves to be celebrated. I believe that is the communication I have through my designs. A celebration of bodies and using my swimsuits as almost portals to a personal, transformative space - on both a mental and physical level. Feeling empowered and bold and connected with your true powerful self. I know it sounds very self-help book and motivational Ted Talk, but I really feel that’s the blood flow of my communication.

SI: Is there someone in your life that has had a major impact on you as both a person and designer?

AF: My mom. She is Filipina. I’m of Black/Filipino descent. She was so inspiring to me when I was growing up as well as now. We would look through Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and she would tell me that I could have my designs and work in these magazines. She really manifested the vision for me through her encouragement and vocal empowerment. Just imagine a mother saying those things to their 6-, 7-, 10-, 12-year-old kid. My mom left her home in the Philippines for me to have the best opportunities. It has been the most powerful impact in my life.

SI: How has HOPL evolved over the years?

AF: Hmm… I started off with a quiet presence and safe approach and then the more I evolved as a person, the more the brand evolved. There were bold pieces in the beginning like when Nicki Minaj wore my piece in her “Anaconda” music video and I had a wave of classic femininity with Ariana Grande, Kylie Jenner and the Emily Ratajowski era, but now all the work is bold and all the work is powerful. The brand is very, very personal to me, each design made for HOPL is an extension of myself. I just inked a deal to relaunch a lingerie brand which we will be dropping this year. HOPL also expanded into active wear and ready–to-wear. Those collections are a direct evolution of my classic swimsuits.

SI: And on a personal level?

AF: I have always been the type of person that lives their life, day to day, in a state of learning and growing. I am always seeking to be the best version of myself. I believe evolution and personal growth is very, very important. We should always be growing. One of my favorite books by Napoleon Hill, Outwitting the Devil, talks about the duality that you face as a person – good and bad, light and dark, all within you. This book had a profound effect on me. It has brought me to a place now where my evolution is in every sense of my being – I really feel I have come into my own – like the rising phoenix.

Valentina Sampaio was photographed by Josie Clough in Scrub Island, BVI. Swimsuit by HAUS OF PINK LEMONAID.

Valentina Sampaio was photographed by Josie Clough in Scrub Island, BVI. Swimsuit by HAUS OF PINK LEMONAID.

SI: You’ve recently shared with me that you identify as non-binary transfemme. Can you tell me about your journey?

AF: My publicist Cris, I call her Cris but her name is Christina. She was always encouraging me to do interviews and telling me people wanted to connect and hear my story and get to know me as well as my work. I always had this reluctance towards it all and to personal, public exposure. I realized I was fearful because I wasn’t being true to myself and this realization came from my reluctance to be honest about who I was to people. I then realized I was hiding from myself which was crazy because as I said, I am fundamentally about growing every day. I guess I was obediently just doing all the performance growth stuff like yoga, meditation, sound baths…all the things! This will be officially my first interview where I feel free and excited to talk about myself! Cris is very happy about it!

You know, when the photograph of Valentina was published in my swimsuit, it was an insane shift for me. It was like seeing everything my brand encompassed in print and all that it encompassed was me but I wasn’t allowing myself to be a part of that shift at the time. I saw the first ever trans model to be featured in SI and she was wearing a suit I designed. It was incredible. So powerful. And then we had a beautiful waterfall effect of seeing Valentina in my suit in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire…just like me and my mom would talk about when I was a kid.

It was almost like SI foreshadowed and manifested what was truly in my heart. It is crazy how spiritual and moving it all is. The final shift for me was almost like tectonic plates shifting under the Earth. Lots of friction and then all of a sudden they shift, click, align and there’s peace instead of a catastrophic eruption. This shift was the Met Gala 2021 for me, when Indya Moore, Janet Mock, Leyna Bloom and Mj Rodriguez walked the carpet. This was the first time I saw a representation of myself on the most iconic carpet that has ever existed in the fashion world. It was like I was seeing myself. They were walking with such grace and power. I decided at that moment I was done hiding and living a dual life. I was going to pursue my personal happiness and share it with the world.

One of my favorite quotes recently is, “It is not about changing who you are, it's about revealing who you have always been.”

SI: What does the future look like for HOPL and for you?

AF: Everything I have experienced within my relationship with Sports Illustrated throughout the years has always felt aligned and ever-evolving. As I grew, the magazine was also doing these legendary moves and challenging and moving the fashion industry to places it had never gone before. That was also me. I had never gone to that level of self-awareness and acceptance before. It feels much bigger than us. It’s all for a bigger purpose. In the future, I want to stay connected to the people, brands and movements that align with me and are culturally connected and always celebrating the beauty of everyone. Being able to show who I was within the SI pages has just been incredible. This will be the seventh year we have worked together, seven has always been my lucky number and I felt this would be the magical year. And it is! I just want to keep working hard and focusing on my values, which is celebrating the beauty of the body, empowering people to feel their best selves.

This interview within itself has been such a special moment for me. It is the first time my gender ID has been publicly printed and the first time I have shared my true heart with the public as well. It's an honor to share this moment with Sports Illustrated. Thank you so much. I can’t wait for what the future holds. Hopefully the SI Swim cover!