Growing up in Southern California, I was raised with a love for the ocean. I spent almost every day in a swimsuit and was taught that you should leave the beach cleaner than you found it. That was pretty much the golden rule. But beyond these informal beach cleanups, I was never really made fully aware of my own impacts on the planet.
My sustainability journey started at Tesla Motors. While working as a sales associate at Telsa, it was my job to change people's perspectives about sustainable transportation. That opened my eyes to a whole new world of eco-friendly companies out to make a change and prompted me to start to analyze my own impacts.
I started to think about how I could combine my love for the ocean with my passion for design and sustainability. This is where the idea of Santos Swim was born, but where to begin? With a ticket to Bali...
I said farewell to Tesla and my mom, sisters, & I explored Bali for 2 months together. I could feel my creativity being sparked again. I always loved to paint, create, and design, here I felt alive again. The island is gorgeous, but the environmental impact of growing tourism could be seen in the form of plastic waste and trash scattered about.
After Bali, I took off on my first solo adventure. I had already sold my car, ended my lease, and gave away most of my clothes, art, and belongings. I downsized into a backpack and my favorite carpet bag. It was so liberating to be free of "stuff" and I was reminded of the importance of quality over quantity.
During the time I was traveling, I was living off my savings and started to take on design projects as a freelancer. In between websites and logos, I was slowly developing branding for Santos Swim and sketching out designs for the first collection.
I wanted my first collection to reflect the beautiful island that inspired me so much while being mindful with my creations. I thought back to the trash-ridden beaches in Bali and Thailand, the sustainable practices I saw implemented in Australia, and my need for versatile and quality pieces while traveling...
So I started where anyone would, online! I eventually found a one-stop-shop manufacturer in Bali and started to work with them virtually to develop my samples. I had chosen a beautiful fabric created with 78% ECONYL® regenerated nylon from ghost fishing nets + other nylon waste. Everything seemed to be going great...
A month or two into the sampling process, I took a trip to Bali. While I was there I wanted to check on the progress and visit the factory, but I quickly realized things weren't as they seemed. They had outsourced the work to other factories, so I had no way of seeing where they were actually being made. The samples weren't what I was expecting, due to some modifications that were different than the designs. I returned home empty-handed and could only wait for the next round of samples to come in.
I realized how hard it is to break into the fashion industry on your own. Historically, It's a secretive business. People don't want to share their trade secrets out of a fear of losing their competitive edge. I didn't want to invest more time and money with another manufacturer until I really understood the whole process.
I joined entrepreneur groups, reached out to contacts in the swimwear industry, and researched as much as I could about ethical fashion - but still couldn't find all the answers I needed to launch my sustainable swimwear brand. I really needed a complete education in sustainable fashion, but enrolling in fashion school seemed farfetched at this point. That's when Factory45 came in.
When I stumbled upon it online, I couldn't believe that there was a program not only about launching a fashion brand but specifically focused on sustainability. It was a no-brainer! Factory45 is a 6-month, sustainable fashion accelerator program designed for anyone who has the dream and the drive to launch their own ethical fashion brand. Covering everything from branding to sourcing to manufacturing to marketing to launch, Factory45 gave me the blueprint to get Santos Swim off the ground.
Fast forward to just over a year after starting the program, I was able to locate a quality manufacturing partner, produce my first collection, and successfully launch Santos Swim! By focusing on sustainable business practices, Factory45 allowed me to make informed decisions when it came time to move forward with production. I knew what questions to ask, what answers to look for and had a seasoned mentor to guide me through the process.
Finding Factory45 was nothing short of life changing and I'm so excited to share I am now an Alumni Mentor for the program! Whether someone is looking to start a swimwear line, hat collection, shoe brand, clothing company, jewelry collection or something totally new...I'm excited to motivate the next Factory45 class to launch their dream companies. Visit Factory45 to learn more.
In the meantime, please don't hesitate to reach out to me with any questions about the program. Feel free to pass this info on to your friends who have been waiting for an opportunity like this! I'm happy to be able to share the journey of Santos Swim with you and can't wait to hear about your sustainability journey next.