Cameron Armstrong is the 26-year-old founder and CEO of Kitty and Vibe, an innovative new swimwear line throwing out traditional sizing notions. Atlanta-native and Brooklyn based, Cameron is dedicated to awakening and fueling self-love for a kinder world. In her Thrive Questionnaire, she opens up about what fuels her creativity, her tips for creating a successful business, and her mission to spread kindness.

Where did your personal drive for creating a kinder world come from?

A part of my story that isn’t told enough is how I developed such a profound mission of kindness. I am blessed to be the sister of a special needs person. My brother, Richard, has been instilling the virtue of kindness in me from the day I was born. Although he can’t talk, his heart speaks volumes. He is the purest person I know, incapable of cruelty, jealousy, or any ill-intentions. Having him by my side has given me a world perspective that I’m beyond grateful for. He’s allowed me to see through differences and dive straight into empathy.

How will your mission of kindness evolve?

I plan to shine greater light on mental health. Through my own personal experiences, I’ve found extreme relief when being able to share your struggles aloud instead of keeping them locked up in a box in your mind. I’m very open about my battles with anxiety, therapy, and antidepressants. If only all who felt troubled felt like they could speak up without judgement or question, our world would be a much happier place. 

What’s the hardest criticism you’ve faced thus far?

The hardest criticism I’ve received is the question of my legitimacy to run an inclusive company. As a white and straight-sized leader, I lean on my intentions and mission to continuously fuel kindness. If I lead with empathy and never claim to hold someone’s experience as my own, it makes space for others to have a voice. For example, I don’t claim to know what it’s like to have body weight anxiety, but it’s my skin and my history with acne that has hindered me from feeling beautiful. For someone else, it may be scars, amputations, or medical devices. The bottom line is, if we fight only for those with identical struggles, we’ll never be able to truly achieve inclusivity. Let’s make space to hear one another and respond with kindness. 

What’s an easy way to spread kindness?

My go-to is calling someone by their name. I heard once that everyone’s favorite sound is the sound of their own name. It’s personal and affirming which leads to bigger smiles and greater human connection. It’s the little things that can make a big difference to someone’s day – whether that’s holding a door for someone, asking “how are you today” (and meaning it!), or simply smiling at a stranger.

What are some tips you can give on creating a successful business at a young age?

Don’t make space for failure. I truly believe that my assurance in success has cultivated the accomplishments Kitty and Vibe has had to date. When deciding to launch my own company, I did not allow room for obsessing over risks or wondering “what if I fail?”. Instead, I focused on the joy the product would bring to its future customers, the knowledge I would gain by starting a business, and the freedom I would have by being an entrepreneur. These topics all include their respective challenges, but by choosing to not focus on fear and instead focus on positivity, success has been easier to achieve. 

What’s the hardest part about being a solo founder?

The lack of feedback. Although end of year reviews, report cards, or exams can be stressful, oh how I miss the days of consistent feedback! I have to be a lot more active on checking in on my progress as a business woman and leader. I also don’t have someone checking in on how I’m feeling with my workload, so it’s important for me to take a step back each quarter and identify opportunities to better improve my work-life balance. 

How do you foster energy when you’re feeling burnt out? 

Movement! My entire life, dance has been my greatest escape from stress. I’ve found that if I’m consumed with burn-out, carving out time to move my body will give me relief each and every time. I encourage you to make movement attainable! Whether that be dancing in your bedroom, walking around the block, stretching in public, allowing yourself to get out of your head and into our body is physically proven to relieve stress and foster energy.