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Daily Inspiration: Meet Claire Bira Forrest

Today we’d like to introduce you to Claire Bira Forrest.

Hi Claire, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I graduated from Saint Louis University with a Fine Arts Degree as well as a Bachelor’s in English and my first job was at Saint Louis University in Development.

After two years of saving up for my first camera and booking my first 20 weddings in the summer, I had to go full-time as a photographer and filmmaker. From there, the past decade has taken me all over the world, and into the worlds of my clients with my camera in increasingly interesting and beautiful ways.

During the lockdown of 2020, I started a swimwear company with the mission of replanting coral reefs in the ocean. I was a snorkel instructor in the Florida Keys in 2009, and have become increasingly aware and alarmed at the predicament of our global reef systems and oceans. Coralee Swimwear is my passion project, and I am hoping to finally release our honeymoon collection of swimwear this year.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The pandemic caused massive issues in both of my businesses, from shipping delays, fabric unavailability, and layoffs to canceled weddings and the inability to keep staff in my office, to team members getting sick and designers falling behind or canceling contracts.

The whole world has felt a little bit like shifting sand for about two years, but it has also helped clarify and simplify what is important and imperative. The obstacles are certainly the things that keep work interesting, and our biggest opportunities for growth.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
More than anything, I want my work and my life to unfold in more impactful and helpful ways to heal the world. I love that creative entrepreneurship has led me to personal connections with clients in important life moments, and getting to share moments that matter together.

In my first business, Claire Forrest Films, I am the photographer and filmmaker, and art director for the team! We specialize in weddings and brand communication. I have taught video workshops for photographers wishing to add motion to their offerings and workflow.

In the swimsuit business, I design all the suits and work with our coral partner in the Maldives to ensure that each swimsuit we sell directly plants a baby coral in the ocean. We are hoping to launch the honeymoon collection this year, which has been three years of hard work and investment, so we are excited about that.

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
I grew up in Missouri, so I have lots of good memories of exploring areas like Johnson shut-ins and elephant rocks with my siblings. My parents knew all the best wilderness spots in the state, and I love that living in Saint Louis means most of them are still just a day trip away.

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