Limitless. Such a simple word, yet contradictory at the same time.
One can perceive them as the farthest, highest or deepest one will go in life. Limits are only what one sets for themselves personally, emotionally, psychologically and professionally. We do it all the time, and yet we never know it. Sometimes out of safety, or out of fear of going too far, past what one normally does.
How does one learn to become limitless?
In an industry such as the world of modeling, models as young as 14 get their start, and are often limited by their height, age or race. the bare minimum height that most modeling agencies will even look at a prospective model is 5’8 and above, one can get discouraged due to these so-called limits.
But what if you forge your own path?
In the world of fitness modeling and lifestyle, there is no set guidelines as models come in all shapes and sizes from bikini bodybuilding to doing fitness swimsuits, one can set their own future. Thanks to the advent and growth of plus-size models, the growth of athleisure and active sportswear trends, and such limits are no longer existent.
One such person who truly believes in living limitless is fitness model, athleisure entrepreneur and Zaqavi Apparel founder, Alyssa Dunlap.
Dunlap, a Denver, Colorado-born swimsuit and fitness model, co-founded the lifestyle apparel brand, Zaqavi Apparel alongside her boyfriend, Braden Everly with the mantra of living limitless, as the best life lived is the one on the path not yet taken.
As a fitness and swimsuit model, Dunlap has modeled for the likes such as Mile High Sports Magazine, Jeneration Apparel, Aflatis Films, SNS Bikinis, Six Zero Strength and Fitness along with Zaqavi. In addition to being a designer and fitness entrepreneur, Dunlap is also an artist at her own company The Siren Aesthetic, which showcases her fine print and acrylic painting works.
Below is my Q and A with Alyssa as we discuss mermaids, Zaqavi Apparel, the growth of athleisure and how to live limitless.
Name: Alyssa Marie Dunlap
Birthplace: Denver, CO
Athleisure? Fashion or fitness fad? Fashion style for sure. Especially with the recent boom of varieties of leggings. Who doesn’t want to walk around in pants that serve so many purposes! So many leggings now a days can be worn with a dressier top and heels, with gym shoes and a tank, or even to bed! So long tight jeans!
What inspired you to found Zaqavi? Watching people settle for a life less than one they always dreamed of having when they were younger made my heart ache. My boyfriend and I want to change the mindset of people to believe that Monday doesn’t suck, to stop living for only the weekends and to be passionate about what they do every day by taking the risks necessary to chase their dreams. This is why we started an athleisure apparel company designed to inspire and remind people to live limitless every day.
What are your thoughts on the growing athleisure/lifestyle active market? As a girl who loves to put on my pencil skirt and heels every once and a while, I think there is something invigorating and confidence-boosting about business formal apparel. On the flip-side, I believe in living an active lifestyle – so if you have the opportunity to both be active and go about your day wearing the same clothes (athleisure) then that’s even better!
I’m a big fan of climbing trees, getting my hands dirty and going knee-deep in the ocean should the moment call for it – which that business formal attire would not stand for. I also believe that the growing trend of quotes and graphics on shirts allows for a level of self-expression that is fun and playful, also seen in athleisure.
You describe Zaqavi as “living limitless” what separates you from other brands? Zaqavi is making a stand for happiness. We are the apparel company that is branding happiness and want you to think “happy” when you think of us. To live limitless means to live a life without constraints by societal norms and expectations.
To go for whatever it is that sets your heart on fire without hesitation.
Entrepreneur, Model, Lifestyle guru, what defines you the most and why? I would definitely describe myself as an Entrepreneur. I am constantly thinking of new ways to make money by working for myself in ways that I am passionate about including fine art commissions and prints, graphic design, and my apparel company, Zaqavi Apparel. I refuse to spend my short life working a job that I’m not absolutely in love with which was what set me on my path to entrepreneurial success.
What brands have you modeled for? Which one do you enjoy modeling for the most? Mile High Sports Magazine, Zaqavi Apparel, Felice Bridal, Nomad Occasions, Kristin Coffin Jewelry, The Bridal Goddess, Kelsey Malie Calligraphy, Something Styled, Inc., Jeneration Apparel, Aflatis Films, SNS Bikinis, Six Zero Strength and Fitness.
I must say I enjoyed modeling for Mile High Sports Magazine the most because I met my dog who I ended up adopting because of the shoot!!
Where has been your favorite place to shoot? On the beach! I’ve done shoots at El Matador Beach in LA, Cabo San Lucas, MX, Honeymoon Island, FL, Clearwater Beach, FL and San Diego, CA! Something about the salty air (although the lens doesn’t like it) and warm sun always makes for the perfect photos!
What is the most exciting aspect of modeling? You never know what you’re going to get, what may seem to be a disappointing day because of weather or other limiting conditions always yields the best photos with an unexpected twist. It’s exciting and unpredictable. You have to be able to go with the flow just like in life! I remember I did a shoot on El Matador Beach in LA and it was so windy I thought for sure we weren’t going to get the photos we wanted.
My hair was blowing everywhere and we couldn’t seem to find an angle where the wind WASN’T blowing my hair into my mouth. On top of that, the water was FREEZING which made it difficult to look comfortable and natural. But the photos from that day are some of my favorites. It’s amazing what can come of mother nature’s twists and turns!
With summer now here, what fashion and style tips and trends do you have for looking good when the temperature rises? Keep it simple. A light, flowy tank with a comfortable bralette and some cute cutoff shorts are all you need. I’m also a big fan of bright, colorful summer dresses! I find that I wear less and less makeup the hotter it gets, especially with the humidity. Simple and raw = beautiful!
What swimwear trends do you see being big this summer? Scrunch bottoms, One pieces with strappy cutouts and halter/choker style tops for two pieces!
What is your go-to swimwear style that you MUST have. Lately, I’ve been really digging my deep-V cutout one pieces! There is something so classy and tasteful yet sexy about an implied one piece.
Within the industry, who is your modeling inspiration? Ashley Horner! She kicks ass both as a mom and business owner and serves as a great role model for women everywhere!
What is your secret to staying in shape? Consistency with my nutrition and workouts!
What is your workout and fitness secret to staying in shape? Lift heavy and be consistent! Whether you’re going to the gym 3 days a week or 7, be consistent and always push yourself to go heavier or get a few more reps, always! They key to muscle gain is increased strength and you’re not going to get stronger without pushing yourself so challenge yourself every single workout!
As someone who is very curvy, what do you think best exudes sexiness and confidence? Own it. Own whatever you are. I don’t care if you’re curvy, skinny, muscular or petite. Your body shape has nothing to do with who you are as a person so own life like it owes you nothing and strive hard to have the life you’ve always wanted. Society is good at helping us get way too caught up that we “can’t” wear this or that if we have curves. Wear and do whatever makes you feel like you own any room you walk in.
What is your opinion of the whole “shaming” issue that seems to permeate across social media and how have you handled it, if any haters tried to call you out? I’ve been pretty lucky with a very supportive and positive social media following. BUT I have had a few experiences of shaming in which case I block and move on. Unfortunately with the entrance into the social media universe, also comes the haters and keyboard warriors.
I think in order to muscle through the mess, you have to have tough skin and be consistent about what your message to the world is without sway from other people. When shamed or hated on, simply block and unfollow!
I think people forget that they have complete control of their social media accounts. You are totally allowed to block or unfollow anyone you want! Keep your page happy and free of social media losers because I believe social media is a great way to get positive ideas and motivating actions to the masses.
What would you say is your best feature? My eyes! I love how you can make someone feel with the power of your eyes!
Any beaches you plan on hitting up this summer? Lots! Living in Saint Petersburg, FL, I have access to many beaches! I love Clearwater Beach but Madeira Beach is my go-to because it’s only about 20 minutes away and usually pretty empty. I plan on hitting up Pass-A-Grille beach and would love to make a trip to Siesta Key here soon!
Any future projects coming down the pipeline? The Fall launch of my apparel company, Zaqavi Apparel and a fitness video shoot with Adam Bradley with Afflatis Films!
Outside of modeling, what are your hobbies? I am a fine artist so I spend a lot of time painting both for fun and commissioned pieces. I also love being outside as much as possible. So if I don’t have a paintbrush in my hand I’m probably paddle boarding, on a walk with my boyfriend and two pitties or waist deep in the ocean channeling my inner mermaid!
Sports question: Who are your favorite teams and clubs? I grew up a Bears fan since so much of my family is from Chicago. Although my boyfriend is a die-hard Steelers fan, so I naturally have been known to make yellow and black tu-tu’s for playoffs and even paint my face like a bumblebee a time or two.
What are your favorite cities to travel to? Chicago because I grew up visiting my family every year in Antioch, IL and we’d always make a trip to Chicago to walk along Michigan Ave. and get pizza on Navy Pier! It holds so many great childhood memories for me. My second favorite city to travel to is San Diego! A city I also grew up visiting and fall in love with more every time I visit!
What advice would you give to women aspiring to get into modeling? Go for it! Go for absolutely anything you want to do whether that’s learning how to be a professional rock climber or model for the cover of a magazine. Get in touch with the people who can help put you where you want to be in the world and don’t give up for anything. There will be nay-sayers and opinions that you don’t want to hear along the way, just like any dream. But stay strong in your goals in life and you can have anything you want. Be relentless in your pursuit of the best life!
Special thanks to Alyssa for her time and assistance during the Q and A interview process. All images used with permission and are the rightful property of their respective owners.