What is your product(s)?
Santos Swim is a globally-conscious swimwear line crafted using ECONYL® regenerated nylon from ghost fishing nets and other nylon waste. There are many interconnected aspects to consider when starting a fashion label from sustainable materials + environmental impacts to economic justice + ethical manufacturing, so I feel that the label “globally-conscious” encompasses everything Santos Swim stands for.
We have partnered with Healthy Seas by donating 1% of our sales to their environmental initiative which recovers ghost fishing nets to be transformed into ECONYL® regenerated nylon. This partnership is very important to us because we are supporting both cleaner oceans and the movement towards a circular economy. Our styles are designed to be worn year after year and a majority of designs serve dual purposes as yoga tops, bodysuits or simply as reversed colors.
Where were you with your idea or business before joining Factory45?
Before discovering Factory45, I had already been trying to build my sustainable swimwear brand on the side for nearly three years. I had already completed the designs and chosen fabric, but I was struggling to find the right manufacturing partners to bring my collection to life. My first attempt ended up in a lot of wasted time and nearly unusable samples.
Other projects took priority and Santos Swim was left by the wayside lacking a solid plan on how to take action. Thankfully I watched a webinar featuring Shannon a few days before the applications closed and realized Factory45 was just what I was looking for! I really needed to understand the whole process in order to see what my next steps were.
How did joining Factory45 help you?
Even with my graphic design and marketing background, it was incredibly beneficial to go through Factory45’s modules tailored specifically to branding a sustainable fashion label. There are a lot of unique aspects to sustainable fashion brands that you may not see when developing other companies. Through these exercises, I was really able to further form Santos Swim’s brand identity and lay stable foundations for our commitment to sustainability.
Factory45 also gave me a complete understanding of the manufacturing process and, most importantly, an actionable plan on how to bring my collection to life. Equipped with email templates, key questions and general timelines, I was able to confidently prospect potential manufacturing partners. This resulted in the selection of a reliable partner and ultimately the production of Santos Swim’s first collection!
In your opinion, what is the most valuable thing about Factory45?
Having Shannon as a mentor through the process is definitely the most valuable aspect of Factory45. Prior to enrolling, I had a few connections in the swimwear industry that could advise me here and there, but even I was feeling overwhelmed by the number of questions I had. I sometimes felt like I was taking time out of their workday or that my questions were too basic to bother them with. Being able to get tailored advice from someone so well versed in the sustainable fashion start-up world was a dream come true! With Shannon, it was always easy to communicate and she provided the tools to lead me in the right direction.
There’s so much scattered info online about launching sustainable fashion brands, however the level of detail and ability to having everything accessible in one place for a lifetime after the program ends is truly priceless. I constantly go back through the program to rewatch past interviews, redo some of the exercises and refresh my general sustainable fashion knowledge.
What were some big or small milestones that you hit after going through Factory45?
I was finally able to locate a new manufacturing partner and perfect my samples, which was a huge accomplishment since that was the point I was stuck at for so long. In addition, I was able to source packaging, build my website, set up email marketing, open pre-orders, conduct photoshoots, and complete production. Although Santos Swim is still a very small brand, seeing my designs being worn around the world is truly incredible!
Please describe your business after Factory45.
Santos Swim is currently sold through our website and at select pop-up events in California. I’ve collaborated with other eco-minded businesses here in San Diego to host eco-markets, beach cleanups and other events to encourage conscious habits. I am constantly working at improving our own sustainability practices, including things like and further supply chain transparency. With the solid foundation that Factory45 has given me I really do feel equipped to take on whatever challenges come up with my next collection.