After winning a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and pursuing an acting career, gymnast Nastia Liukin was ready to take one more world by storm -- the fashion world. On July 20, Nastia will unveil her brand new girls' clothing line, Supergirl by Nastia, in JCPenney stores nationwide. J-14 chatted with Nastia about the new fashions, winning a gold medal, and her friendship with her fellow Olympian gymnast, Dancing with the Stars champ Shawn Johnson.
J-14: Why did you decide to design the Supergirl by Nastia clothing line?
Nastia Lutkin: I've always been interested in fashion but because of my gymnastics career I've never had the time to pursue it. Being in a gym for seven hours a day, six days a week, I wasn't able to do anything else. Since the Olympics [ended], I've had the chance to branch out and do things that I really like to do. Supergirl is such an iconic brand, and I wanted to do something that would inspire little kids. It's a little bit of everything -- there are dresses, cute shirts, and then there's also athletic outfits. It's pretty casual, but something that they can wear to school or to play with their friends outside of school.
J-14: How much of a say did you have in the design aspect of it?
Nastia: I live in Dallas. but I've been going back and forth between here and Los Angeles a lot. I brought in a lot of my wardrobe and some of my favorite [pieces] to get the designers familiar with my personal style, what I like to wear, and also what I wanted to see in this line. I kind of got to go behind-the-scenes and pick out fabrics and colors. I didn't do the actually sketches, but I got to work pretty hand-on-hand with the design team. It has been a lot of fun and a rewarding experience.
J-14: What makes you feel like a Supergirl these days?
Nastia: It is just feeling confident no matter what you are doing. It's just about setting goals for yourself and achieving those goals. They don't have to be long-term goals like the Olympics, but I think it is really important to set those short-term goals as well so you feel like you are achieving something on a day-to-day basis.
J-14: You've been doing gymnastics since you were three -- was it something you just fell into or did you know this was what you wanted to do?
Nastia: Both of my parents were actually gymnasts. My dad went to the 1980 Olympics and my mom was in the Rhythmic World Champion, so it was something I had in my blood ever since I was born. I was just always [in the gym], and it was like a playground to me. Fortunately for them, I just fell in love with it and never wanted to leave.
J-14: What was it like to win a gold medal?
Nastia: It was surreal. You dream your whole entire life of that one day when everything comes together, and it was a fairy tale. Every single event couldn't get any better as the day went on. At the end of the day, standing there on top of the podium with the gold medal around my neck, and looking over to my dad and seeing the tears in his eyes, and seeing the USA fans up in the stands watching and clapping - even though it was almost three year ago, those images are still pretty clear in my head.
J-14: Are you still good friends with Shawn Johnson?
Nastia: We're really good friends. Especially leading up to Beijing, Shawn and I were really close. We pushed each other to try to achieve our personal best because we were both right there, one and two, for the past two years. We really brought out the best gymnastics in both of us. We went different ways after the Olympics ,with her doing Dancing With The Stars, which was really awesome to watch her win. We'll always be connected because the Olympics is something that not everybody can achieve. Even though we were competing against each other, we were still representing our country. It was definitely something that we will never forget.