By Keri Foy

I had all my questions ready. How do you camouflage a muffin top? Minimize saddlebags? The questions I often ponder when shopping for a bathing suit. That is, until I met Laura Patterson.

Laura, designer and owner of Cannonball Swimwear, has an almost disarming way of transforming swimsuit shopping into analyzing your true perspective of your own body image. I thought I felt pretty good in my own skin excepting the tug of war with a one-piece swimsuit. But how comfortable am I? Within a couple minutes of talking with Laura, she had me taking a deeper look at my seeming self-confidence.

Prior to starting her swimwear line, Laura made clothes and other wearable items but has always loved swimwear.
Photos by Sunni Wigginton 

Laura is more likely to ask, “Why do you think you wouldn’t look good in this?” But, like most women, getting to this point of self-acceptance has been a journey for Laura.

“[Wearing a bathing suit] is one of the most potentially self-conscious and physically revealing things that we do in life,” Laura says. “I’ve done all kinds of things to feel OK in my skin — insane things to feel good in my skin.”

But Laura now encourages women to accept their bodies and be thankful. “It’s my journey as a person — becoming a woman — and there is part of that that’s always changing.”

“Women who shop with Cannonball are the the kind of women who invest in themselves in more ways than just a bathing suit,” Laura says. “People who shop with me do other things to feel good from the inside out.”

“Before I was making these bathing suits, when I would try on bathing suits, I didn’t see it as a problem with the suit, it was a problem with me — I need to lose weight or tone up this part,” Laura says. “I realized there was a fundamental physical flaw with other bathing suits. The elastic is too tight.”

Laura says this fatal flaw creates the sausage effect, not necessarily your curves. “It’s like something made for a 12 year old,” Laura says. “Cannonball Swimwear is made for women. The elastic is really soft so it doesn’t dig in.” Laura says most of her customers are moms ages 30 to 45.

“I built the swimsuits by trying them on my body and other people’s bodies,” Laura says.

Laura says people have tried to pin her style as retro, but she balks at that label. “I’m into current fashion. I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t cool,” Laura says. “I see what’s happening with clothes and translate it into swimwear.”

Right now, high-waisted bottoms are appealing across the board. Younger women are going for the cheeky bottom. “A lot of people love their butt, but not their tummy,” says Laura, who adds that a woman going on vacation with her husband may swap the one-piece for a cheeky for the sheer sexiness of it.

“I’m a big believer in proper attire for the proper occasions,” Laura says. “I’ll wear a full suit at Lakeside. I’d go cheeky at Nolin Lake or Miami. I’d go topless if I were in France.”

Almost all Cannonball suits are reversible. If you get a one piece, you have two options and with a two piece, you’ll have four options. She even has a couple of one pieces that easily pull double duty as a body suit. “You’ll feel better about yourself and the way you look in a swimsuit that’s nicer,” Laura says.