Sustainable swimwear for the beach and surf
The native Australian plant genus ‘Hakea’ is known for its rare and diverse beauty coupled with extreme resilience. These are qualities that swimwear designer and Hakea Swim founder Casey Eastwell describes as being the essence of the woman befitting her brand.
Hailing from a little landlocked town in regional Victoria, a 17-year-old Casey couldn’t wait to get her taste of city life. She attended university in Melbourne, but after a ‘long and wonderful stint in the city’ was ready for a sea change. ‘I now call Byron [Bay] home and feel so lucky to be surrounded by nature, waves and a really inspiring community’.
As the coast started to call her name, the roots for her swimwear label Hakea were planted. There were few protective and flattering surf wear options available for women, and so the idea for her brand started to organically form. ‘It really came as a response to solving a problem I had had with finding a lack of sun protective swimwear that I could surf in that was flattering, functional and reflected my style.’
She started taking on a ‘slow and sustainable approach with versatile designs in timeless cuts’, and then everything took off from there. Casey then travelled to Bali to connect with people she had met through her previous role as a graphic designer with Melbourne-based label Handsom, whom she credits with providing her with a real insight into running a small business, sourcing fabrics and pattern making.
A regular listener of the podcast ‘How I Built This’, Casey looks to The Design Files and Sight Unseen for some inspiration. Otherwise, she is driven by the colours and shapes she finds in nature or in her travels. ‘I think when travelling, you’re more present which can allow you to be more inspired and creative.’ Her designs are a correlation between the shapes her customers look for and that she herself would wear and the ‘muted earthy tones and arid landscape where I grew up along the Victorian coastline’. The positive feedback received by customers finding confidence in their Hakea swim sets makes it all worth it to Casey.
'I find it’s inherently more sustainable. It allows customers to make thoughtful decisions and gets rid of the sense of urgency and impulse buying.'
With influences like Jesse Jamm and Yvon Chouinard, who ‘appreciate and recognise how important it is to have a connection to the natural world’ and who strive to provide ‘high quality pieces designed to last [and which] slow down consumption’, rebuking the notion of fast-fashion is clearly important to the Hakea brand.
Casey’s drive for sustainability has filtered through all aspects of her work. Shifting to the use of ECONYL®, a brand of regenerated nylon making strides in ethically and environmentally conscious material, has been a positive change for Hakea. The brand’s choice to venture away from the 4-seasons-per-year model has also been a success. ‘I find it’s inherently more sustainable. It allows customers to make thoughtful decisions and gets rid of the sense of urgency and impulse buying. It reduces waste from trying to move sale items… and financially it means we are producing less samples per year’.
Running her own business has been a lesson in learning how to switch off. ‘It’s so important to take care of yourself’ and having the right systems in place early on is a crucial piece of advice she shares. ‘It’s hard to start a good habit when you grow and have even more on your plate!’ For self-care in the beautiful Byron Bay, sometimes switching off her phone and taking a good book down to the beach is an ideal way to unwind for Casey, who is currently reading and loving Three Women by Lisa Tadeo.
'I’m fortunate to have friends in similar positions to me – I can always call if I need some advice or a bit of a pep talk.’
On the day-to-day, she credits her productiveness to listening to a good mix of music (check out the Hakea x SOMSIREN playlist on Spotify), alternating between tasks and networking with a great group of friends who also run small businesses. ‘I’m fortunate to have friends in similar positions to me – I can always call if I need some advice or a bit of a pep talk.’ This is an absolute asset in an era where young creators are often grappling with the self-affliction of “Imposter Syndrome”. ‘I find reading or listening to interviews with successful business owners that really get into the grit so helpful. Everyone started somewhere and has had their own struggles they’ve had to overcome’.
Written By Rebecca Costanzo
Published March 22 2020