Q&A WITH OUR FOUNDERS

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Five minutes with Zanna Van Dijk and Natalie Glaze founders of Stay Wild Swimon building a business, creating Stay Wild Swim, Ocean Pollution and more.

What brought you together to create this brand?

We both have a passion for the ocean, having grown up scuba diving, snorkelling and exploring the depths of the open water.  We connected over a shared drive to be a part of positive change and to turn the marine plastic problem into a solution. Swimwear felt like a natural way to do this as it can be formed from ocean plastic and crafted beautifully. It’s true fashion with a purpose.

Why was it important to tackle environmental issues, particularly ocean pollution? 

Ocean plastic is a huge global issue. Anything from 8-14 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into our seas every year; and so we decided that we want to do everything in our power to fight this. Stay Wild Swim enables us to turn threat into thread.  We use ECONYL® - a yarn crafted from regenerated fishing nets collected from the ocean as well as other scrap materials, which is turned into high quality fabric that can be used to make premium swimwear items which are built to last.

What are your sustainable priorities?

We have aimed to be as sustainable as possible with our Stay Wild journey. At every stage we have chosen only to work with local London-based start-ups and sustainability leaders who share our passion for creating a working responsibly. Everything from our recycled packaging through to our carbon neutral shipping is chosen with the planet in mind.

The swimwear is made from premium Italian fabric, stitched using thread upcycled from plastic bottles and handmade in London. To ensure our swimwear doesn’t leave a trace, our website stocks GuppyFriend bags, which catch any microplastic that our swimwear may release when washed, stopping them from entering the water system. We are also very aware as a start up brand we can’t be perfect and that this journey is ever evolving, the more technology evolves as will we.

How did you involve your online community in the process of building the brand? 

As bloggers ourselves, we’ve built our own brands and businesses through social media and engage with brands that use these platforms. We wanted to create Stay Wild Swim in such a way that people could come along for the journey with us; which we hope will also inspire them to support sustainable brands or perhaps even build their own.  Our audience have been actively involved in colour choices, designs and even naming the collection and pieces. 

We’ve shared the development of Stay Wild Swim on our social media accounts every step of the way and have already accumulated almost 14,000 followers on the @staywildswim profile prior to our launch. From these followers over 750 girls replied to our social media casting call for models, and now 6 of these are the faces of our launch campaign. 

Our followers want to be more sustainable in their everyday life but often find it confusing - we hope to simplify it for them by providing digestible information and of course beautiful ethical and eco friendly swimwear. 

What are your ambitions for the brand? 

This is only the beginning, we cannot wait to expand in the future. Our main focus is on design and purpose - our pieces must be functional for the wearer while also being beautiful and flattering.

What advice would you give to anyone hoping to launch a sustainable business?

Take your time, don't cut corners and be sure to consider everything. It is a challenge to be sustainable in a world which is built around speed and convenience. Every decision you make is one that has impacts on production processes and the environment. 

Any other general business advice?

One of the best bits of advice we were given when we started Stay Wild was to just do it, even if we felt unprepared to just take the plunge. It’s easy to worry that you don’t know enough or will make mistakes. The truth is that no one really knows what they are doing. You learn as you go, evolve, make mistakes, grow. This is all part of the process but its much better to throw yourself in. The longer you wait the less likely you will actually do it. We wanted to be open with our journey, show the stages (the many ups and downs) from self funding it all, to directing shoots, doing designs and sketches. It’s all been such a learning curve but we are so excited for the future of Stay Wild Swim.

What’s your sustainability pledge for the future?

Going forward we want to take initial steps towards collecting our used pieces and regenerating them into future items, with the long term goal being to form a circular brand with no waste outputs.  

This Q&A was originally featured on Eco Age

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