The Deseret News reports that Whitney Cheney, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had been going to a prestigious fashion school in New York City known as Parsons School of Design where she had been working on clothing designs that would be displayed by professional models. Before finishing fashion school, however, Whitney decided to serve an LDS mission. She sent in her mission papers and was called to serve in Busan, Korea for 18 months. After returning from her mission, Cheney felt that returning to fashion school was not the right path for her. Instead, she felt that she needed to live in Utah and pursue a degree in entrepreneurship at Utah Valley University.
Her degree led her to start her own business—a swimwear company for girls ages 2-13 called LaLa Swimwear. Whitney had always been passionate about keeping her clothing designs modest, and she noticed that it was really difficult for her nieces to find modest, comfortable, high-quality swimwear. Whitney decided to start a swimsuit company that would fix those problems and help young girls have more options to choose from that reflected their personal styles and body types.
Whitney feels that it’s extremely important for girls to start developing a sense of self-worth at a very young age. Her goal is to provide swimming suits for all body types so that little girls realize that they don’t need to fit a certain mold. Unfortunately, most stores will make you feel that way when you shop for clothes, especially swimming suits. It seems that most clothes are made to fit one sort of “ideal” body type, but most people do not have that body type, and so when they buy clothes, they do not fit the way they looked in the mannequins or on the models in the pictures.
A problem that Whitney noticed specifically with swimwear were that tankinis were almost always sold together. So a girl who is taller with a longer torso wouldn’t be able to get a larger-sized top if she wanted. Whitney decided that she would give girls the opportunity to mix and match the tankinis in her store. She also designed a tankini top that could lace up in the back so that girls who needed a longer top could order a larger size without having to worry about it being too baggy.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Whitney Cheney believes that both women and men have deep, inner worth that is not defined by their outward appearance. Mormon women know that they don’t need to show off their bodies to be valued or beautiful. The worth of a girl or a woman (or anyone) goes far beyond what she looks like or what she is wearing. Whitney told the Deseret News, “Little girls are our future … and we need to empower them now and instill them with confidence in who they are and what they can do and let them know that it’s limitless.”